Friday, September 30, 2011

For Struggling Parents

This letter is an expression of my grief.
This letter is written with love and hope
for parents who are having a hard time
loving (and/or liking) the child(ren) in their family.

Dear Parents who are struggling with children who don't behave as you expected,

Please do not use food as reward or punishment.
Please do not lock your child in isolation.
Please do not withhold attention for long periods.
Please do not hit your child.

If you are using or considering any of these methods
if these seem like reasonable solutions to the problems at hand
PLEASE get help. Please find people who are experienced in helping families
follow a path of patient love and compassionate teaching.

There are ways that work. There are ways to solve problems
that do not harm children.

I know it is hard to take it in
when you find your child lying to you
or completely ignoring your rules and wishes
I know they do all kinds of things that you never thought of
that you never witnessed
that you never dreamed a child could do

I give you these red flags to watch for:
If you feel very angry in response to your child's behavior
If you cannot see something good in your child every day, some way she/he is growing
If you feel afraid and alone or overwhelmed by your child
If you tend to avoid being around others because you are embarrassed by your child
If you have tried the same method of problem-solving repeatedly and there is no positive change
Find someone to help you overcome whatever is inside you that is being triggered by your child's fear

Your child will find your triggers and will reflect your unhealed hurts
Your hurts will raise to the surface from deep within you
Where you buried them
Your child will unwittingly bring you to your knees
This is an opportunity for you
to be a better human being
to admit to not knowing
to connect with others
to learn and to be helped
things that all human beings need
things that you wish your child would learn how to do


Know this: if your child does not see you learning new things
if your child never sees you admit you made a mistake
if your child never sees you as naturally imperfect
and okay with the fact that you are imperfect
Your child will never see imperfection as an option for herself

Your child is a work in progress. Your child is a person.
Your child is not clay. Your child is not something you own.
Your child is a garden.
Your child is a precious growing being.
Your child has a heart and a mind and a spirit
that is growing and learning
and observing and hoping

Misbehavior is a message. It means "I don't feel safe" or "I don't understand" or "I am overwhelmed"
Sometimes, it is just "I'm not perfect."
Sometimes, it is just "I'm not you."
Many times, it is your child begging for help
It is your child asking you for limits, yes,
But also for love.
Loving limits, explained limits, simple limits
imits appropriate to your child's age, experience, and past hurts
Limits which need to be accompanied by concrete praise and gratitude
and words that show you understand
Or that you are trying to understand
"I see you did this part right"
"I see you trying really hard"
"You seem confused"
"I see you remembered this step, but forgot this step"
"Everyone gets scared"
"Everyone makes mistakes"
"Everyone forgets"
"You don't have to be perfect"

"Every human being needs words that show true acceptance
"You are beautiful."
"You are an amazing human being."
"You are so smart... and more and more you will see how smart you are!"

And information: "That was a mistake."
"That is not okay."
And direction:
"Show me how you can do that with kindness."
"Here are a couple of options for ways to deal with that problem."

Mom, dad, aunt, uncle, whoever you are to a child:
You Don't Have to Be Perfect.
Accept yourself, and accept your child.
But, if you are overwhelmed with a sense of how imperfect you are
if you are angry all the time
if you are taking that out on your kids
Your kids are not the ones have a problem
Take Care Of Your Own Internal Problems

That's what adults do.
Adults admit when they need help.
Adults do not stop growing and learning.
Adults to not use their power to damage others.
Adults don't let their distress get in the way of their kindness and compassion.
Adults make sure everyone is SAFE.

You a work in progress. You are a person.
You are not clay. You are not something you own.
You are a garden.
You are a precious growing being.
You have a heart and a mind and a spirit
that is growing and learning
and observing and hoping

You can change and learn
But no-one is going to do it for you
or make you do it
or even know to help you learn how to do it
You have to take the step
You have to decide to change
You have to seek the people to help you.

If your children are not safe, and growing,
and able to behave and play and joke
and able to look into your eyes
at least some of the time on most days
then you are not doing your job as a parent.

If you are not able to look into your child's eyes with love,
You need help.

If your child is afraid of you,
You need help.

Humble yourself and ask for help.

If you are overwhelmed, afraid, exhausted, depressed, or angry all the time
You need help.
Get help.

Don't stop looking for it,
until you find it.

in memory of precious Hana
who did not receive what she needed
and so, rebelled

1 comment:

Beckster said...

Thank you so much for this. I am also an adoptive parent through AAI and I am so confused and frustrated and angry. Your post really spoek to me.