First Do No Harm
Updated: Dec 9, 2019
We parent (and do everything else) from two sides of our being:
Our analytical, problem-solving side, and
Our emotional, core identity side.
We need both of these sides to parent well; we need to be in a good place emotionally before we can solve the puzzles our children present to us.
Recently I have been struggling with how to support my teenage son as he goes through emotional changes and social struggles in high school. I have ridden a roller coaster of extremes.
Sometimes I want to confiscate his phone, move him into the bedroom adjacent to mine, pull him out of school with its bad influences, and attack him with drug-sniffing dogs! Other times I think it's better to give him the free-reign he wants, let him screw it up, and hope he learns from his mistakes.
I have been so angry, ashamed, terrified and in love with him all at the same time for months now. It's like I have a tornado of beliefs, feelings, fears and stories swirling around inside me all the time.
I have been so angry, ashamed, terrified and in love with him all at the same time for months now.
It has taken me all these many months to grapple with my emotions, face my biggest fears as a mother, and understand which parts are about me and unrelated to my son. And during that time I haven't really been doing a whole lot of discipline or parent strategizing, even though I knew something had to be done.
I talked with him, my husband, my therapist, HIS therapist, our pediatrician, his teachers and lots of other moms and teen experts. I maintained my connection with him (no matter how tenuous) and handled my own emotions the best that I could. I needed that time and learning to deal with my issues and get my self re-aligned with who I am as a woman, and what I believe as a mother.
Now, months later, I am finally ready to implement some parenting strategies.
And guess what? A lot of them are consequences that I thought of months ago in reaction to his first boneheaded risky rule-breaking, when I was still in anger and fear. But if I had done them back then, they would have blown up in my face and turned that tornado into a category 4 hurricane. Now they will be effective at helping and supporting him, because they're coming from a mom who is reconnected with herself and confident in her approach.
Here’s the thing: the parenting strategies we have available to us aren’t categorically wrong or right. What makes them wrong or right is why and how we do them.
Are you disciplining out of anger and worry vs. belief and love?
Are you trying to make something happen or teach about life?
Are you punitive or empowering?
Are your reactions emotionally charged or cool and confident?
Every consequence or punishment we can think of can come from either one of these extremes, and it's easy to see the drastic difference in the possible outcomes.
When a problem arises, humans immediately go into problem-solving mode (usually with unchecked/unconscious emotion driving the solutions they come up with). The moms who start working with me are no exception. It can be frustrating for these new clients to see that, while we talk about solutions right away, I sometimes say, "Not yet."
They might not be ready to implement solutions until we also ask - why? Why are you upset? Why do you lose your temper with your child? Why do you feel like a pushover or a meanie? It’s not because of your child's behavior; it means something deeper to you.
All the strategies in the world won't work if a frazzled, overwhelmed, doubtful mom is the one implementing them. Will your children’s behavior improve when you work with me? Hell yes! Do you learn the exact response and consequence for each of your children’s misbehaviors? You bet! And it happens because we connect your emotional and analytical sides, so your solutions come from the right place and actually WORK.
If you’re ready to look at what’s underneath, I’m ready for you!
Reach out today and tell me what’s going on with you and your family.
I can't wait to listen. firstname.lastname@example.org