Every month, I want to share a bit of the "blue print" that I use with individuals, couples and families.
As always, I hope the questions from the last blog post were thought-provoking, helpful and an encouraging step toward getting on the same parenting page.
Over the next two weeks, I want to look at why it can be so difficult to feel unified with your co-parent (regardless of whether you are in a romantic relationship with that person or not). There are two parts that make up this struggle: the “parent” side, and the “partner” side. Let’s take a look at the “parent” side today.
In her book Raising Parents, Patricia McKinsey Crittenden writes, “Parents are children’s primary attachment figures and, as such, they function to promote children’s survival and well-being as well as to prepare children to become attachment figures to their own children. As with any primary attachment figure, they are irreplaceable…and more dedicated to their children than are any substitutes” (p. 3).
I believe that 99.99% of parents care deeply and fiercely about protecting, preserving and caring for their children’s well-being. These parents desperately want their children to grow up into mature, responsible, rational and thriving adults. They inherently know the weight of being a parent and the love they hold for their children.
And I also believe that when 99.99% of parents see their children misbehave, act inappropriately or do dangerous things, their care for their children turns into a frantic fear that can cover up our best intentions.
“If my child keeps acting this way, will s/he end up homeless and using drugs?”
“If my child doesn’t learn that being aggressive is wrong, I’m so afraid s/he will turn out to be some horrible person who winds up in jail.”
“If my child hangs out with these people, what will s/he become? How will other people see her/him?”
I believe that 99.99% of parents care deeply and fiercely about protecting, preserving and caring for their Children
The list goes on and the fear takes over. And as the fear takes over, parents often become more strict, more controlling, more aggressive, more adamant, more checked out or more demanding. Good intentions that become hidden behind behavior. And all that kids see is parents’ behavior, and usually that means that kids keep acting out in defiance, hiding, aggression and more. (This starts a vicious cycle that makes things feel even worse.)
When the fear takes over, kids are not the only ones who are affected; your co-parent is affected as well. My guess is that when your co-parent sees the behavior (control, demands, checking out, etc.), than s/he responds in a certain way. We’ll get into more of this next week, but certainly something to keep in mind as we reflect on the “parent” part.
My encouragement is to spend some time reflecting on your “parent” side:
- When I see my child misbehave/act out, what does my fear tell me?
- What is my heart’s intention for my child in that moment? What is my “parent’s care and concern” saying to me?
- How do I let my fear take over? What does my behavior look like in that moment?
- How can I let my care and concern be known, rather than my fear?
Good things ahead,