What about this...NO MATTER WHAT & for As LONG AS It TAKES commitment that I talk about?
I get mixed feedback about this philosophy. And I get it, it's a mouth full. Lots of people say "of course that's my commitment", but many others say "but, it is so hard or I am so tired or I don't know if I can do that" as their response. The reality is that I have said all of them too.
There are so many families in our midst who are facing "stuff" that is just unimaginable. Parents trying to stay in it with their children through thick and thin. Children who can't see the forest for the trees - can't accept the LOVE they're being offered. Love in the form of overlooking being called stupid or being spit at. Love in the form of hugging and kissing their child even when it feels fakey. Love in the form of 2nd chances (and many times 3rd, 4th, 5th and many more). Love in the form of another bail-out, and I don't just mean money. Love in the form of parents pressing pause in their own lives to help their "adult" child get past their present struggle - over and over again.
It is the CAN'T that is the reason I call for NO MATTER WHAT & for As LONG AS it TAKES. I know, I know...many, many, many times it doesn't look like can't or feel like can't. As Intentional Parents, we have to KNOW it is! It is a CAN'T born from trauma. Not trauma we caused, but trauma we now have to clean up after.
Parents, when you are waivering, when you feel like you are just too tired and don't know if you can go on, I want you to remember that your child is feeling the same way and doesn't have the tools to deal with it. Trauma has left them unarmed and ill-prepared...you are their hope in the darkness. The fact that you stand by them no matter what and for as long as it takes can make a difference. Your LOVE is life giving, don't forget that!
So, today I want to lend you my hand so that I might help you get back up...one more time.
I want you to know that you are not alone in your struggle.
I want you to know that it is okay to feel sad and mad sometimes.
This is hard. You are an amazing parent. Loving someone who is afraid to be loved or can't accept the love you have to give is a physical and emotional workout like none other.
Hold tight friends...you CAN do this!
One of the biggest struggles reported by parents is BEDTIME. Families dealing with children who won't stay in their beds, who have tantrums, and take forever to fall asleep (just to mention a few). Unfortunately, bedtime becomes Battle-time.
Here's the thing, the issue is that we are not seeing the big picture. The battle can be won (without any casualties) if we are intentional about bedtime. There are so many variables to consider...some of which we have a lot to say about and some we do not. Those that we have a lot to say about begin with us (the parents, the mature ones, the ones whose job it is to keep everyone safe and healthy and the ones who ultimately are supposed to make good choices for our family) - no pressure!
Parents: The first thing we need to do is get our stuff out of the way before anything else will work. The second thing we have the most control over is really knowing our whole child and really knowing what bedtime means to him/her. With these two steps in place, we can handle anything.
We can make sure we stick with our routine no matter what. We can make sure our children get to sleep early enough that they don't get too tired and have to deal with the implications of the release of Cortisol when they are over tired. We can understand that the dark can bring up feelings of abandonment and therefore trigger our children. Anxiety can be decreased by being emotionally plugged into our children during our bedtime routine so they don't have to draw us in with behavior. Finally, we can meet our children right where THEY are at - not get caught up in what other families are doing at bedtime, what our parents did, or even what we thought we would do.
Be INTENTIONAL. Slow down, think outside the box, move your old expectations and do what is best for your child, even if it is totally different than anyone else you know. In our crazy and chaotic world, bedtime really gives us a very rare opportunity to send strong nurturing messages to our children - you are valuable, you are loved no matter what, and your needs are important. Wow! The scene just went from battleground to Peaceful Kingdom. Who lives in a Peaceful Kingdom? A strong, healthy, connected family!
I know that some days you are just TIRED. Life throws so many curve balls and after awhile it feels like things are never going to change. What is worse is when someone comes along and starts telling you how to pull yourself up and take action. They don't get it.
I am NOT here to tell you to just shake it off and get moving. Yes, down the line that has to be a choice but, first you must take care of you. Be gentle with yourself. Be Gracious. Be forgiving. Our job as parentscan be VERY difficult. If you are in that cycle of life, there is healing to focus on - YOUR healing!
Give yourself some time to be tired. Physically rest. Emotionally rest.
Talk to those you trust.
Take time to do simple things that fill you up.
Go ahead and get support from a professional - it's okay!
Talk to those you trust.
Remind yourself that you can handle this.
Begin to plot your path forward.
Share your plan with those you trust.
You will slowly start feeling like you are ready.
When you are...take the first step!
You CAN do this!
For some parents, the process will take hours or days and for others maybe weeks. Find what works for you. If you can't work through it by yourself, go get some support - now there's real strength.
The getting back in there, the No Matter What and For As Long As It Takes is ultimately the strongest positive message you can send your child - after all, it is opposite of their experience in life this far.
I just want to remind you that life definitely has its ups and its downs and sometimes to make it you need to tread water for a bit. You CAN do this!
Remember...you are NOT alone
Setting limits is a hard task for many parents. Some find it hard to stick to the limit once it is set and some are on the other side of things and are very rigid about sticking to the limit they set. As Intentional Parents, trying to meet our children where they are, we are presented with a wide variety of variables to consider. While we work to create our individualized set of boundaries, there are a couple tricks we all can use to be more successful.
1. Be consistent about the fact that you (the parent) are in charge of the boundaries. The reality is the goal is to not set a boundary you are not willing to follow through on. However, life can throw us curve balls and sometimes we just can't make it happen. You can make the decision that for today the boundary can be changed because of special circumstances. It's really about your child understanding that YOU are the source of their safety at all times.
2. Once you give a boundary, you are not obligated to justify it. You are the parent; it is your job to set boundaries that are healthy for your child. When you are confident about that, your child will be too. It can be helpful to give the reason you set the limit, but do not repeat yourself - it will just tick you off. Offer the explanation once and then...zip your lip. This is especially important if everything deteriorates to an emotional meltdown. The reality is that they are in fight or flight and effective language is not accessible. You sound like the Charlie Brown teacher - you are wasting your breath. If you need to speak (some people just NEED to speak), use a simple mantra to get you through...my favorite is, "It is my job to keep you safe and healthy."
Limit setting is no parents favorite thing to do, but it is so crucial to the emotional health of your child so focus in and be intentional. Find that sweet spot that helps your child be successful and your relationship with your child flourish!
A note to self...
Being there for my child for as long as it takes and NO MATTER WHAT is just the thing that will create healing.
Learning that what my child says is not necessarily what he/she means, I need to listen with my "whole" child in mind.
My child has gifts and challenges...I need to know them all inside and out and parent from there.
Every day of our lives is integrated into who we are. The past does not simply disappear.
Trust is a make-it or break-it concept. Rebuilding it takes forever sometimes.
All I can do is set my goal to give my child the best of me every day. Sometimes I will meet it and sometimes I won't, but to start new each day with this as my goal is the ticket!
I don't know that most parents really understand just how POWERFUL they are in the making or breaking of their child's self worth and life's successes or failures. The reality is the foundation of our confidence and ability to have really strong, satisfying relationships in life all begin VERY early on - in the hands of our parents. (Don't worry this isn't going to be an article about how we can blame our parents for all of our "stuff") However, if I could wave a magic wand and give moms and dads one crucial tool, it would be to understand the power they hold so that they would be VERY INTENTIONAL about each and every moment they parent their child!
It all begins in-utero as our brains are being wired. The choices our biological Mother makes (or doesn't/can't make) has impact on our experience of who we are and how valued we are. In infancy, we began to read cues from our parents and to integrate them into our beliefs about ourselves. Toddlerhood brings the first opportunities to experience the concept that we can make a positive impact on our world. Preschool years are when the building of a strong verbal relationship is begun between child and parent. And the school-age years are when, among other things, we develop our own personal style and strengths as we go out into the world, always knowing we have a soft place to land - our parents. It doesn't end there. Young adults still look to their parents for acceptance and understanding, which affects all other relationships (jobs, marriages, etc). And finally when we, the children, are parents ourselves, we look to our own parents again for input and acknowledgement. A powerful relationship!
In the midst of our automated, fast-paced, competitive world, it is SO easy to forget that we as parents play a role in our children's lives that can make the difference between struggle and flourish. And (as they say) with great power comes great responsibility.
Parents, be wary of becoming emotionally unplugged from your child. So many times we miss crucial moments when we are stuck in our own stuff. Make consistency your goal. Showing up for someone again and again no matter what is happening in life sends a strong message that the recipient is very valuable to you!
Communicate clearly. Don't underestimate the message sent by the look in your eyes or the tilt of your head or the sigh or silence. If misinterpreted, this kind of language creates doubt and shame. Stop what you are doing because this is your most important job...translates to YOU (my child) are VERY important to me and therefore the world.
Be sure to see your whole child. Parenting your child with all his gifts and challenges in mind instead of what everyone else is doing will create successful experiences for him - ultimately creating self-esteem and a deeply integrated understanding that he IS worthy of goodness in his life. When we believe we are worthy of goodness, we create goodness.
Self-esteem and the belief that you can make a positive impact on the world are the key elements to living a life that is flourishing! As parents, we create the foundation for a lifetime of continued building.
Let's build it strong and functional.
Let's maintain it through all the challenges.
Let's break free from doing it like everyone else is doing it.
Let's fight to stay plugged in no matter what.
Let's be INTENTIONAL in our parenting every step of the way.
The other day I woke up with a list that was a mile long. Internet wasn’t working – AGAIN and my mood was not so good. It would have been the perfect time to hunker down and only focus on my list or take my computer to the local coffee shop and tackle those things with an iced tea in hand and working internet. But, as you might have guessed, that did not happen.
My son and daughter are getting confirmed next week. Grace LOVES shopping so of course she had found her dress awhile ago. Shopping is not a favorite of Drew’s (surprise, surprise), but he keeps growing and growing so new dress clothes were a necessity. I had suggested that he and Grace go shopping together, while I stayed at home and tackled my list. She could definitely help him find a great outfit, but Drew was not thrilled about that. As the date is getting closer, he is getting a little more anxious. This felt like it could be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
So…I adjusted my plans, set aside my list, and revamped my attitude. He needed his mom. And that is my top priority.
As parents, we know our children best. It is up to us to be intentional parents. Know when is the right time to give them the nudge and encouragement to be more independent, know when to pull them back in closer to us, and know when they need someone to prop them up or walk alongside them. It isn’t easy, it isn’t always convenient, but it is always worth it.
I was sitting behind a mom and her two sons the other day and it was all I could do to not lean forward and compliment her on what an incredible son she has and suggest that she see this young man more clearly. Yes, I know that would have been rude...so I didn't, but oh how he needed her to have this skill!
Her younger son (2nd or 3rd grader maybe?) was a big hand-full, maybe ADHD, and the setting we were in begged that he sit calmly and quietly. Well, he wasn't doing very well on his own but his older brother ( suppose 13 or so) was incredible with him. He soothed him, entertained him silently, hugged him and had him sit on his lap when he was antsy. Mom was pretty unplugged at this time. She let big brother handle the situation. Unfortunately, it all imploded. Big brother turned to pay attention to what was happening at the front of the room and little brother lost it. He couldn't regulate on his own. He started kicking big brother...big brother lost his temper and gave him a look. Then little brother poked at big brother in multiple other ways...and big brother was done. He got very upset and quietly let little brother know where he was at emotionally. Mom caught this exchange and proceeded to let big brother know that she was unhappy with his behavior. I am behind them thinking...what?? This is an injustice! You are so missing what is happening here. As she proceeded to cuddle up little brother, big brother's feelings were SO hurt! He just looked at her in disbelief and then turned away.
Oh Mom, you sent a strong message and I don't think it was the one you wanted to send. Yes, you were SO patient with your little guy. Clearly you understand his special needs, but your older son needed you to SEE him too. As Intentional Parents, we really need to see each of our children as the whole person they are and to be able to meet them right where they are at. The older brother in my story needed his Mom to see how hard he had tried, how patient he had been and how he was just a young man too and didn't know how to handle it any longer. I just kept hoping Mom would see both of her sons.
As parents, we are so powerful in the building up or tearing down of our children's view of themselves, their ability to have strong healthy relationships and their belief that they can make a positive impact in the world. WE MUST be INTENTIONAL! Do it differently if necessary! Meet each of our children right where they are at.
Remember...you are NOT alone!
Stacy Manning .