Digesting Life...

What Children Really Want

Working with children, tweens, and teens as they experience a spectrum of negative feelings about their non-custodial parent confirms my conclusions that when a divorce/separation is inevitable, the parents should be directed to receive parenting therapy/coaching, together, before the dysfunctional alignment ensues.

In high conflict situations, children have to survive. Survival often translates to supporting an angry custodial parent at the risk of the relationship with the other parent. Translations that take place in this manner leave a child focused on never forgiving the other parent for what they have experienced, both in reality and vicariously, through one or both parents.

Too many children have shared that if their parents could stop arguing then their lives would be less stressful. We continue to identify the children as needing the counseling when it would be more productive for the fractured family to be so ordered to participate. Treating the system with the goal of moving them to a parenting position that is at least tolerant of each parent is a more viable goal.

Words

Recently I was in the market to purchase a hat. I approached the vendor and asked him if he had any hats for big heads because that is the description of my head. I do not know the reason or purpose for my large cranial but it is real. Add thick hair and my head far exceeds the norm.

Because of my very accurate description of what I was dealing with, he handed me a hat that was minimally snug but not my style. I engaged this man in some conversation about how difficult it is to find decent looking hats that fit my big head and I observed that he became apologetic to me and ended up stating that it is not nice to call my head big. Although I assured him I was fine with it, after all it has been attached to my body for over 50 years, it brought to my attention that political correctness has certainly inserted its tentacles deep into our lives.

In our quest to never hurt anyone’s feelings, we have developed an apologetic style of interaction with others which may not be the healthiest way to communicate. It excludes honesty and motive while encouraging anxiety in interactions which can be stifling. It is okay to be confident in speaking the truth, always testing our motives while allowing others to be offended if that is where they want to go. When our motives are pure and did not intend to hurt, then we can feel secure that we are not responsible for someone else’s perception of pain.

What I Say

Believing that change first occurs within me and while being mindful, I notice that my own use of the word “sorry” has grown out of proportion. My sense is that it is a cover for my relational errors without providing meaning to those I may be offending. Sorry, especially when said after something I meant to say but realize the receiver is not perceiving the same message, is a most interesting practice. My words can never be returned to my mouth and extracted from one’s ears. It implies that I am not in control of my language which is never the case. While it is true that my conversation can be inhibited (or dis-inhibited) depending on how I am feeling or if I have allowed myself to be under the influence of a substance, I am still responsible for what and how I present myself.

In order to address my concern about the use of “sorry” I have created “no sorry zones” around myself through being mindful of how I influence others. I must report that when I impulsively desire to say “I’m sorry” for an infraction and instead offer a brief explanation or silence, the interactions have not been negative. Likewise, I offer this freedom to others who feel like they need to be sorry for too many normal interactions with positive results, which gives me a chance to explain why they do not have to be sorry to me for most interactions, which spreads the freedom.

What High Conflict Parenting Does To Children

When parents maintain a high conflict relationship with their co-parent it causes their children undue stress which can result in acting out behaviors as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Next comes the medication as they get diagnosed as being unable to focus at school, creating little zombies who a parent decides should have limited contact with that other parent who hurt them because it has to be all their fault. While the custodial parent may experience a feeling of righteous vindication the child is robbed of developing into a well balanced individual whose sense of self is fully developed.

Could you please just not act out this way for everyone's sake?

Change

This word is often avoided with thoughts that "I just don't know how," "I can't" or "That's just the way I am." Add to that the many different ways we are told that change occurs and it might appear to be overwhelming. Desiring change in my own life, I considered whether or not I would be able to effect a change if faced with a situation of death if the change were not implemented.

There are many people who have experienced this dilemma and made choices in both directions. I have not. However, I challenge myself to think on these lines as a means to effect my personal desired change. Since changing a habit requires a resolve that occurs within my brain as part of the process, and I want to die to myself in relation to that habit, then there is no doubt that I would have to be successful. I add to this my spiritual element for support and strength. I'll let you you how it goes.

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