We are jumping ahead to Chapter Two, “Soul Fever”. Kim John Payne opens up this chapter with the fact that parents know their children so well and all of the different sides our children can have, “the too little sleep side”, “the overcome with silliness side” etc. He admits toward the bottom of the page that our love for our children never falters, but the instinctual knowledge of our children can wax and wane.
In many cases, I have talked to parents who have felt so disconnected from their children. This can especially occur as children grow older and are out of the house for almost more hours a day than they are home. I have also talked to parents who are very fearful of their children being away from them and are fearful their connection will no longer be strong as their children’s world expands. It is a delicate balance, and I think worth checking to see where you are right now, today, with connecting to your children.
Simplification can help declutter things so we can focus on what matters. Kim John Payne talks about when “something is not right; they’re upset, overwhelmed, at odds with the world….You could think of these as “emotional fevers,” yet I prefer “soul fever” because there is something so uniquely individual about the way each child manifest their tribulation.”
Have your children ever experienced “soul fever”? What did you do?
I think “soul fever” can be more difficult to treat than a physical malady because it may involve tough choices. It may involve saying, “No, we are staying home this week” or it may involve saying, “You can only do one extra-curricular activity this semester of school.” It may even involve changing an educational situation or makes choices that are hard at the parental level so we can be at home.
Kim John Payne remarks in the story of “Teresa”, a teenager, that what is often needed is “consistent, commanding, and compassionate adult presence.” A teenager is working toward self-regulation and it is not a smooth, gradual incline toward that state. So, think about how much we often expect out of our tiny children.
The solution for soul fever is often just two or three quiet days. However, I find many parents are struggling with children whom they describe as more consistently “off” in terms of emotional regulation, tolerance for small things, changes. It is very important to show these children not only the importance of “downtime” (ie, where are they and what are they doing when they are their best?) but also to look beyond just a two or three day period if an entire change of pace is needed. Bring your children close to you and do what you enjoy doing together and re-group toward your next steps of family wholeness.
Tell me about your experiences.