Being the parent of a child who has suffered loss, grown up way too fast, lives with the impacts of trauma and battles the demons of mistrust can be a VERY long journey. A life time, as a matter of fact.
They need us to do "it" differently. They need us to hang in there NO MATTER WHAT and for AS LONG AS IT TAKES. They need us to do all of this in the midst of challenging behavior and words, the symptoms of diagnoses upon diagnoses, the pushing back of relationships, the irrational beliefs about themselves and the world we see acted out each day and so much more.
I have found that one of the ways to survive it, and actually thrive within it, is to find the good in each day! To keep a positive outlook and attitude amidst the challenges. So, I want to share with you my 5 top ways to stay positive on this long journey:
1. Write Down The Good In Your Day
It is so important to be intentional about looking for the good in your day. Some days it will be easier than others, but consistently doing it EVERY DAY is the key! Then write it down somewhere, doodle around it, write it three times...all of these help integrate it into your filter. It helps you stay out of your child's spin! It helps you to stay or get rational, be empathetic and hang onto the you that you can be proud of. REMEMBER- it doesn't have to be a big, huge, life-changing, light bulb moment kind of a thing...it can be simple, it can be that you made it through the day or that you cooked everyone a healthy meal. The criteria is...find something good or positive.
2. Fight for HOPE
Work really hard to hang onto HOPE for your child. It isn't always easy. So many times it seems like they sabotage any good that comes their way. But, one thing I know FOR SURE is that if WE have hope for them, they can have hope for themselves! Our hope is truly the best gift we have to give!
3. Take Care Of You
Finding the energy to take care of you feels almost impossible sometimes. It is not like we don't dream of getting a break or a nap; it just seems like if we let go, everything will unravel. If we let go, everything will go backwards. I get it, BUT what I have learned over the years is that if you do the work on the front side, it doesn't have to go that way. You may end up with a little "fall-out"; however, the value of you being filled up is worth it for both you and your child. So make plans to take care of you. Even if they are just little plans, it really helps a lot!
4. Remember Your Child's Emotional Age
Your child's emotional age is where you should have your relationship with him. It is where he can succeed, it is where he needs nurturing, it is where he needs your help to gain mastery. Whether or not you can get the rest of the world to meet him there or not it is a set up for both of you to have that relationship anywhere else but at his emotional age!
5. Surround yourself with support
There's just no way I would want any family to be alone on this journey! Being around like-minded people is SO empowering! People that get it can help hold you up. Find those people - actively seek them out! Support groups, workers, other parents who have been there, therapists, and coaches. Social media can be really GREAT and really NEGATIVE. If you are on the pages or sites that are constant war stories, hateful and just negative, GET OFF! UNSUBSCRIBE! That does not help anyone. I understand those families are really hurting, but their state of mind is only making their situation worse. Find SUPPORTIVE, LOVING groups to be a part of!
There is so much WE, the parents, can do to create healing. It takes making the choice. There are lots of other ways to stay positive...find yours and make the choice EVERY DAY!