Sometimes parenting can feel like stepping on a lego…Wait…isn’t parenting easy? Not always, even in the best of circumstances, it can get a little hairy. When you are the parent of a child that has experienced trauma, the good times are really good. You hold on to them, and somehow, kind of, forget about the not so good moments. And then…without warning, BAM! The atmosphere shifts, the child is upset, and loving can hurt.
Sometimes, remembering that you’re not the only parent going through this can make you feel less alone. Those guilty feelings of dislike toward your child are just that, feelings, NOT facts. When guilt comes barreling through the door of our hearts, like an unwelcomed house guest, criticizing you for the less than lovely sentiments about your child, tell guilt to leave! This condemnation can cause a vicious cycle of mood swings, for both parent and child, especially if your child catches wind of your guilt. They could use it to manipulate future situations in their favor.
I have a few tips, to keep your relationship with your child mended together, especially if they’ve had trauma.
Instead of retreating, press in.
Not in a combative way, but in love. When you know any little thing can cause a meltdown, it’s easy to avoid conflict. When we avoid conflict, we often allow rules to be broken, or in some cases never establishing any to begin with. This can be counterproductive, because your child is most likely going to try getting your attention. From their perspective, “negative attention is better than no attention.” Press in, in the good times and the bad, in a loving and supportive way. Don’t wait for the negative to happen before loving on your child. Talk to your trusted family and friends to support you and give them information on trauma so they can support you and your child in a loving and safe way as well.
Check out http://lovingonpurpose.com/blog/kite-strings-of-connection for additional great tips.
Your child may perceive love differently than you do.
There are many love languages. Find theirs at the following link.
Get your emotions under control.
When you feel less than adequate, you won’t be the best parent you can be, and your kids will notice. No one is perfect, but you are the perfect parent for YOUR child. No one can love them, the way you were designed to love them.
Remind yourself every day, that you’ve got this under control.
Say positive affirmations, to yourself and your kids. There have been many studies that prove your children rise to level of expectation you set before them. If you say “You’re a brat!” to your child, increases the likelihood of them acting like a brat. Think of the messages you heard growing up and how they have impacted you.
To learn more about how negative words impact you check out one of the many experiments on the important impact of our words at:
Loving our kids can feel just like stepping on a Lego. Can I let you in a little secret though? When you step on a Lego, it doesn’t break you. It hurts, but you’re designed to be stronger than that. Remind yourself, that even when it hurts to love sometimes, it won’t break you. You’ve been created to love, and you got this!
Helmstetter, S. (1990): What to Say When you Talk To Yourself.