In our last post, we looked at the four things the authors of “Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers” outlined in regards to “collecting” our children after separation. You can see that post here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/02/01/hold-on-to-your-kidscollecting-our-children/
I got a wonderful comment on this post that basically stated it didn’t seem as if the steps outlined in this chapter would really work for a child that was either in a truly difficult developmental stage and where parent and child were feeling disconnected or perhaps in a situation where a lot of separation was going on due to life circumstances.
I have a few thoughts about this and I hope if you are in this sort of situation you will go through these suggestions and take what resonates with you and your family.
- If you are in the situation where separation is occurring frequently, is there a way to pare things down? Sometimes families cannot pare it down due to work obligations or school, but if the separation is due to things outside of school and such, perhaps it is worth investigating cutting activities outside the home down. Can you pare down how many hours you are working outside the home? Could you possibly homeschool this child to give them extra time at home? What can you do with extracurricular activities? Many families will put a stop on sports for part of the year and just enjoy family activities. Some families will say no activities at the dinner hour. Perhaps if separation is occurring due to these extra activities, these need to be looked at within the context of the needs of the whole family. Sometimes we have to give things up in order to gain things. Simplify.
- Get out a piece of paper and write down what separation is occurring each day and what happens before the separation and what happens after you and your child are reunited. What rituals are there around going out the door, or reconnecting after school or work?
- Do you cook and eat dinner together most nights? This is really important and well worth the effort.
- Do you parent your child to sleep? This is important for all children, but for children nine and older, this may be the ONLY time they open up about their day. It is important to be able to give your child this time.
- What do you do on weekends? Is there a family activity one afternoon a week? Even if children protest, this is an important ritual to establish. It does not have to be expensive, and can involve something as simple as hiking, taking a walk, bathing the dog, having tea.
- Are you speaking this child’s love language? Here are the back posts on that: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/06/16/how-to-work-with-the-love-languages-of-children/ and this one: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/06/13/loving-children-in-their-love-language/
- What kind of language do you use daily with this child? (http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/19/using-our-words-like-pearls/) Do you connect with this child through your warmth and love throughout the day? Do you consider yourselves on the same side and maintain your calmness whilst you help your child meet the rules and boundaries of your family?
- Boundaries foster security. If you are being a jellyfish in your family, (see this back post for an explanation of what a jellyfish is: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/10/what-kind-of-family-are-you/) now is your time to stop. It is not punitive to consider logical consequences for behavior that you would not want your child to do to any relative or friend!
- If your child is very enmeshed with peers, is there a way to change the scenery? Is there a way to limit time with peers?
- If you are going through a rough patch with a child, actually spending more time together and not less is often a key to drawing closer and communicating. Some mothers I know have even brought their most difficult child home to homeschool with excellent results.
- Meditate and pray about this child and carry this into your sleep and see what new insights come to you in the morning. You have the keys to help this child within yourself. You really do!
- Go slow. Things are not going to change overnight. I suggest you look at this as taking at least a six month period. Write things out on a piece of paper, your plan, and put it into action. Tweak as you need to, but start small with something tomorrow.
I would love to hear the experiences of mothers who have survived a difficult period of connection with their child and came out even stronger in the end. Do you have a story like that to share with us?