Today we are up to Chapters 16, 17, and 18 in this wonderful book by author Dr. Louise Hart. We are moving through this book, and will be starting our new book entitled “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and it comes in audiobook and Kindle editions, along with the traditional paperback and hardcover versions, so grab a copy to be ready for later summer! Here is the Amazon link (no affiliation)
So, off to Chapter 16- “Touch.” The chapter opens with “the recommended daily requirement for hugs is: four per day for survival, eight per day for maintenance, and twelve per day for growth. Touch is vital for life.” We have all heard stories of babies who were deprived of touch and died, and have seen the importance of parents, caregivers, and volunteers who cuddle infants born prematurely who have to stay in the hospital. Touch disorders – neglect, abuse, incest – are all trauma that needs to be healed. Touch is not just sexual; it can be warm, affectionate, nonsexual. This can be a hard thing for people to learn. There is an exercise in this book on page 153 modeled from a program in New Zealand; try it out! There is an entire section of this book devoted to child abuse. Sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse needs to be discussed and healed in order for us to parent effectively. Behavioral patterns are handed down from one generation to the next, so sometimes we have the first opportunity in our family to choose to break the cycle.
Abuse may have some common background traits: a history of battering the belief that beating is the “right way to discipline”; a view of the child as inherently bad and deserving of punishment; unrealistic views of childhood development; exepctation that children will fulfill the parent’s needs; lack of warmth; a negative focus; poor communication skills; abuse of power (the child “must be taught who is boss”); overpunishment for small things; isolation. The author gives suggestions and examples from parents who have overcome this cycle.
Chapter 17 is about “Beliefs.” Most of our beliefs are not conscious, and were handed down to us from our parents. We create this belief pattern and system and use it in our lives, even if the pattern becomes outdated. On page 164, the author offers up some questions to look more closely at belief systems – what do you believe about life? what do you believe about children? what do you believe about parenting and family dynamics with a partner? We also carry expectations, attitudes, judgment, and self-talk, and then we behave as if our map of beliefs is true. Therefore, in order to change our own behavior, we must change our beliefs. And, we must be careful what belief system we are instilling in our children – this, to me, is the true power of inner work for the family. We must constantly weed and prune out the beliefs that are not good for our lives.
Chapter 18 is about “Self-Talk.” Our internal dialogue (self-talk) becomes our beliefs, which creates our feelings, and our feelings become the basis of behavior and our behavior becomes our concept of self. Self-concept is how we view ourselves at any given moment, and self-image is how we imagine ourselves to be.
Affirmations can help us flip our self-talk, that internal dialogue. I rountinely use affirmations and visualization. Dr. Hart writes on page 172, “We tend to act out feelings – with words or behavior. If we feel like winners, we act like winners – working hard, thinking clearly, an ddoing what we need to do to win….Over time, we tend to become what we think about the most.”
Our worst thinking may be polarized (black or white, either or, no middle ground); taking everything personally; projecting what is going on in our own self-talk to others; catastrophizing (imaging and expecting the worst); blaming; overgeneralizing. Affirmations that you can repeat 20-30 times a day can help. One affirmation story noted in the book is,”I am a loving and effective mother.” I think more mothers I know need to hear that, internalize that, and believe it!
Change your mind, change your life. As an aside, if you skip ahead to the appendixes, there are many valuable tools there, including “100 + ways to praise and encourage a child,” my very favorite “New Rules for Kids,” leadership styles chart, locus of control charts, more resources for parents. The appendixes are great!
I would LOVE to hear from you. Do you use affirmations? Have you had an abusive past and how did you overcome it? As always you can also email me at email@example.com if you need help getting your family life together via phone consultation!
Blessings and love,