05/03/2021

Bitterly Blended

Posted in Family, General, Self-Awareness, Teen Trials tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 5:44 am by The Water Bearer

 

Ever since the Boomers discovered divorce and gave themselves permission to break their marriage vows, there’s been a steady increase of single parents and blended families. I’m not telling you anything new, and we’ve all heard plenty about the negative consequences and scary statistics that befall the children who aren’t raised in a home with both of their loving biological parents.

However, in this post I plan to share some helpful tips for parents to mitigate some of the damage.

Relationships are complex in the most stable of circumstances, and parenting is a bloody hard enough job without doing it alone or bringing more outsiders into the mix. Especially at a time in history when emotional instability is at an all time high. There certainly are occasions where parents separate amicably and continue to nurture their children with love and respect for each other long after the romance has passed. But the more common theme is one of bitterness, tension and ill will.

Whether that bitterness is between Mum and Dad, or Step-Mum and Mum or Step-Dad and Dad etc. It’s extremely toxic to children… I’ll say that again.. IT’S PSYCHOLOGICALLY TOXIC TO CHILDREN!

“looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;”
Hebrews 12:15 NKJV

I have testified many times the dire psychological impact from my own experience with this toxic formula. It happens while the parents are all consumed with their own powerful emotions, and trying to navigate each turbulent situation, so no one is really interested in how the children feel.

I tried for decades to explain my traumatic feelings to my bitter parent and yet I never felt heard or respected, safe or even loved. In response to sharing my pain, I was met with defensive justifying excusing their actions, along with all the reasons for their feelings. I was reminded of All the “acts of care and effort” they had done, as some sort of evidence that I should not feel the way I did. The message was loud and clear… Their feelings mattered and mine did not.

Is it really so hard to ask a child in your care “How do you feel and why?” Or ask “Is there anything I can do to help ease your pain?” Or owning your humanity admitting you made a mistake and say “If I could go back in time I would have done things differently” Especially as the children grow into teens and start realising the unhealthy strategies they’ve adopted to cope with their traumatic feelings.

In relationship therapy there is a simple process called “Active Listening” It goes like this… Ask “How do you feel and why?” Then paraphrase back “so what I’m hearing is….. Is that correct?” If you were correct then validation is so important “That must have been awful for you, you must have felt…. (Add in 3 or 4 similar feelings that they might have felt)” then reassure “I reassure you that from now on I will… (Your plan of action to prevent repeat)

Don’t parents think we know it all! We can even assume to know our child better than they know themselves… so instead of being heard, understood, validated and reassured when I withdrew emotionally to protect myself, I was accused of being ‘cold hearted’. Instead of asking why I stopped playing happy families and avoided close contact, I was called “ungrateful”, and instead of considering if my feelings were valid I was told I had been “brainwashed” or “coerced” by my other parent.

If you are a parent, in any style of family and you catch yourself doing any of the things listed above, allow me to be the one to knock some sense into you! If you accepted the role to care for a young person and you can’t see past your own feelings to show empathy to theirs then you are headed for a future of loneliness and drama, likely cut off from those children and their children. And you will find yourself having to badmouth those poor kids to everyone who asks “how are your kids?” as you try to shirk any blame for them cutting you out of their lives. Trust me, no one may tell you to your face, they may all sympathize and tutt and say “you poor thing, how terrible!” but underneath that they are thinking “how horrible does someone have to be to badmouth their kids? No wonder the kids don’t call or visit”. It’s not a good look… Ever!

If their unhealthy coping strategies don’t destroy them, at best those kids will end up in years of therapy paying someone to listen to their feelings cause you couldn’t manage it!

If you’ve read this and know of someone who badmouths the young people they accepted care of, either through birth, adoption or marriage, please be brave and tell them what empathy is and how to actively listen. That it requires putting their own feelings aside for a moment to be able to show compassion and support for someone else’s pain. You may just save a family and a child from becoming another statistic of God-only-knows-what!

 

 

 

 

 

14/05/2012

The adventures of a social butterfly*

Posted in General, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 9:26 am by The Water Bearer

One of my pet peeves is wasted time, we are here but a blink and sitting around twiddling my thumbs is just not an option for me. If I have an hour between responsibilities I try to drop in on a friend for a quick cuppa and catch up. I love my friends dearly, and looking into their eyes, sharing in their lives for a few moments is what I like the most. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind getting on the phone and having a good chin wag as well, but in the rush of life we are becoming more and more prone to keep in touch via social networking and mobile phones, and this lacks the personal touch which I crave. I want to hug people!! I want to allow my intuition to tell me how they really are, I can do that pretty easily most of the time, even on the phone, but face-to-face is a much easier platform to engage with them about what I’m sensing.

If I have made plans to fill my day and the opportunity to get a visit or an invite from a friend arises I will do my best to fit them in. This is getting more and more difficult as life gets busier, but I figure I can run errands and do housework any time, while a chance encounter with a friend may not be so easily rearranged.

I am truly a people-person, I am at my happiest when I have a room full of people whose brains I want to pick and whose lives I want to engage with. People are my teachers, their lives, thoughts, experiences and beliefs are the foundation of my research, and therefore my writing. Your lives and struggles inspire me, please comment in the section available on a blog if you feel you have something to share about the topics I write about. It encourages me deeply to know how others feel and it teaches me more and more. I am educated by the lives of others, not only my own experiences.

While reading a fellow bloggers post this week I stumbled across a fabulous poem, its insight, its humour and the way it was presented were clever and entertaining. It relates to the digital trap of technology that distances us from the touch of others. Enjoy the link below…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GAx845QaOck

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