Respect Your Parents

I was thinking about a Dar Williams song today that she wrote about her therapist. The line goes something like this, speaking of when she was in a therapy session; “When I hit a rut she says to try the other parent”. It is a great song and tongue in cheek it is quite funny. It seems to ring true about how traditional talk therapy tends to be based on blaming our parents for all of our problems.

There is no doubt that parents do have the biggest influence on our development of self esteem, confidence and sense of worthiness. Things can go a little wrong in a family when parents might be young and overwhelmed with their own dysfunctions that they might not have been as available as they would have liked or maybe got angry a lot. And things can also go VERY wrong in a family when there is abuse, gross neglect and terribly dangerous situations for children. Being abandoned and adopted can also do a number on children’s sense of well being.

Even though parents have this influence on our sense of who we are in the world, when trying to heal from these experiences, the worst possible thing to do is put blame on your parents.

I am not saying that they are not responsible for things that they did or did not do, but holding the stance of “if they could have done better they would have”, is far more healing for those wounds.

One of the most primal survival instincts is to “belong” to your family. One of the biggest wounds that I see in my clients over and over again is a sense of not belonging and then continuing that pattern out in the world with others even outside of the family.

To hold the stance of “blame” when working to heal these wounds only puts more distance between children and their parents. And as long as there is distance between them no one will heal.

A much more useful thing to do on the inside when working with theses things is to look at ALL of what your parents gave you, realizing that they gave you life and they were the only ones who could have done that.

And instead of judging them and what was or wasn’t there…just say a peaceful “ok”.

That’s it, “ok” and notice the resistance that is created by trying to make something in the past be different gets still and quiet.

Then, there is room for healing and not a minute before. Now, I am not suggesting that means you have to make amends in person with abusive parents etc. This is done on the inside of yourself.

I invite you to try it out for yourself. Notice what it is like to blame your parents and hate your childhood and notice how that feels.

Next, look at your parents and all that was and silently and peacefully just say “ok”.

And notice that the tension of resisting what already is, relaxes.

For more information on how NLP and Family Constellations can heal your life quickly please visit my website.

Be well,

Cinthia Dennis.

Children of Abused Men – Family Violence From the Eyes and Hearts of Battered Men

There is a plethora of information on the Internet and in the media about violence against women. And for the gentleman being abused, finding relevant, accurate insight and advice is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Even harder for abused men is finding answers for the questions they have about their innocent minor children. Below are a couple of questions pertaining to the children of battered men.

1) “How can men successfully protect their children from and in abusive relationships?”

As a parent, we seek to protect our children from danger. It is a primal instinct that any parent feels from the core of their being. But when that danger lurks within your home and interfaces with your young on a routine and regular basis, protecting them gets tricky. Why? Because your doing so is by-in-large ultimately regulated through a system. (more on this in question #2 below pertaining to divorce)

However, within the confines of your home and your relationship with your child, there are many important things you will want to offer a child that witnesses and/or experiences domestic violence.

• Give your child unwavering unconditional love. While all children deserve and thrive on unconditional love, the child of domestic violence families will use this to help offset the impact of a controlling parent’s conditional love.
• Be the empathic adult attachment figure for your child. You can be the resource through which they come to discover and validate themselves.

• Help your child see the difference between what is his/hers and what belongs to others. By doing this with your child, you will increase the likelihood of his/her not blindly embracing an endless abuse dynamic.

2) “How do abused men protect their children from a controlling battering parent in their divorce?”

In some respects, I believe this is where the men have a greater advantage; not because they are men, but rather because they are more likely the breadwinner. As we know, abuse is about control. So be honest with yourself right out of the gate as you embark onto the steps of your local family courthouse.

The controlling parent will see the divorce process as just one more thing to control. And let’s face it: litigation is about control. So in this arena, the batterer will feel at home and she may thrive in her seeking control…unless you know how to offset her agenda.

If you are the primary financial agent of your family, you will have a much better chance of preventing your controlling spouse’s abuse of the legal process. You will be in a position to create alliances with people who assist in encouraging equitable closure.

If, on the other hand, your abusive partner holds the key to the family purse, you will want to be mindful of the social, financial politics of your case. And you will want to know the strategies and tactics abusers successfully use in custody and divorce proceedings.

If you are an abused man in an abusive relationship or in family court with an abuser, you will want to know all you can about the dynamics of domestic violence, legal domestic abuse and legal psychiatric abuse. The more you do, the less likely your abusive relationship will spiral out of control.

Parenting – How to Beat Stress

Being a positive parent is not always easy. Most parents find staying positive the most challenging part of rearing a child. If you find yourself feeling like you’re going to go off the deep end, the main culprit is almost always stress. By reducing your stress, you can increase your patience, get a handle on difficult situations, and be the positive role model that your child needs.

1) Count to three. Sounds silly, but your brain’s reaction to a quick stressor is to yell or become angry. Fortunately, the primal instinct to yell only lasts for two seconds. So, if something bad happens that causes sudden stress, such as a gallon of milk busting on the floor, or your child has covered the bathroom in a liter of shampoo, you can count to three to get past the knee-jerk reaction time of your brain and react how you know you should.

2) Come up with a plan on how you will handle a difficult situation. Planning to react in a certain way will make you think twice before you have a negative reaction. Set rules with any other caregivers in the child’s life. Consistency is so important on many levels of brain development. For example, you can decide that an appropriate punishment is time-out. Make sure that all of the adults in the child’s life are “performing” the time-out in the same manner.

3) The most effective way to handle time-out is not to yell and scream all the way to the designated spot, but to purposely give no attention to the bad behavior. Quietly lead the child to the corner. Do not respond to fits, questions, threats or other attention-getting behaviors (unless the child is endangering themselves, of course). Only give positive attention for positive behaviors. The child will instinctively learn that positive behaviors get them the attention that they need for survival. Whatever the form of punishment is, you will find yourself experiencing less and less outbursts, yelling, anxiety, guilt and stress.

4) Train your body to react how you want it to. If you go nuts and stress out over things that are bound to happen while raising a child, then you train your body to react to stressors in this way. The cortisol surge that sends you flying can last for a very long time causing anxiety and health problems. When there’s a plan, your brain won’t be searching for a reaction because after those first two primal seconds, the routine of the plan will be apparent. Your stress levels will respond as you train them to and recover more and more quickly.

5) Lower the stressors in your life. TV’s blaring, computers running, lights in your eyes, clutter and a long to-do list can cause so much underlying stress that you’ll feel ready to blow at the drop of a hat. Purposely lower stress levels by leaving the lights off whenever possible. Set aside ten minutes of every hour to spend relaxing with your child. Do something that they want to do, or get something done that needs to be done daily. Babies and toddlers love to throw clothes into the washer or pour the laundry detergent. Get things done while giving your child some positive attention. Let them help you hang their clothes on their baby hangers or infant hangers. Anything that they can do to help will help keep their stress levels down as well and in turn help you keep yours under control.