Parenting Through the Tough Times
By Ron Huxley, LMFT
No one likes to go through tough times. Everyone would prefer to avoid extreme challenges and painful relationship encounter but we all go through them. How we endure them reveals what we are a really made of…Difficult situations reveal our parenting character and attitudes quicker than anything else in life.
Attachment researchers call this “rupture and repair”. A rupture can be anything from a minor disagreement to a child stealing or running away to a major incident like a death or divorce. All families have them but how do they discover how to repair? It is the ruptures that tear down old strategies that didn’t support healthy communication and connection. Ruptures quickly remove strongholds in our relationships that prevent us from having the family of our dreams. This can be considered a good thing. It doesn’t feel good but it provides an opportunity to redefine our relationships.
One way that families repair is they break agreements with lies they have believed about themselves and their family. These are often dysfunctional beliefs learned early in life that served to protect us from painful rejections and taught us our to get needs met even if it was distorted and manipulative. Fortunately, if we learned dysfunctional and distorted ways to navigate safely in relationships, we can learn new ideas and adopt healthier beliefs about how to have intimacy and connection. Most parents never stop to reflect during rough times to discover these new truths.
Take a moment to ask yourself what did I learn about myself and my relationship during this most recent crisis? What was identified that needs to change and what am I willing to do to change it? Are you going to keep doing what didn’t work so well in the past and lead to this recent moment of pain or are you going to find a new thought and a new truth?
Imagine you are taking a helicopter ride straight up, about a mile high, and look back down at your situation. What do you notice that you didn’t see before being so close to the circumstance? What details stand out to your now and what new directions do you need to get yourself and your family unstuck? You don’t have to know all the steps just yet. What is the first step that you feel you need to take right now to get healthier.
The other way that successful families met tough times is to not blame one another. Even if someone else created a mess, they look at themselves to determine what messes are on their side of the street that they need to clean up. They stand on the principle of “the problem is the problem. The person is not the problem.” It can take a lot of emotional strength to stand on that thought but the truth is that you cannot change anyone, even a small child. You have to clean up your messes and your can model/teach your child how to clean up their messes. Guiding children, not controlling children is the real goal of parenting.
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