Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ideals Versus Resource In Parenting

The reason I use a timer when I have special time with my children is ideals versus resource.

My ideals would be that my attention on them would always be that of delight, enthusiasm for each and every thought they have. My attention would be focused and unwavering. My own "stuff" would be set aside in order to pay good attention to them. I would be playful, unhurried, flexible.

Wow. No small order. Or maybe to you it sounds simple. There are a few of you out there. I don't like you very much but you're there. :)

If I had received that kind of parenting I might not find it so challenging to offer it to my young ones. The parenting I received was different than that. It came from loving, intelligent and well-intentioned parents. It came as the very best they knew to offer me. And a few components were missing. Nothing I can't heal from but it does create a challenge nonetheless. The kinds of challenges which at first made it impossible to play at all with my children. The kinds of challenges which made it easy to clean up and cook but not to sit still with them and listen to their thoughts.

So I use a timer because then I know that a beeper will ring and I'll get to stop this hellish activity! Each time I do this and each time I use a listening exchange afterward (or before!) with a peer, each time I notice big changes within myself.

For example, playing with my young ones becomes less a "hell" and more of an interesting series of moments. Sitting still and being with them becomes restful not restless.

I think because of being raised with a task-orientation, actually counseling my young ones has been easier for me. That might be more difficult for some of you. I don't like you very much but lol, that's what I call internalized parents oppression. A topic for another post. (Of course I like you!)

The counseling part usually comes after a good special time. The young person has had fun with you. They've gotten attention. You've connected and they feel loved and safe and they have your attention now. Voila! Big feelings come up when special time is over! Leave a little slop time for just this thing. Teaching you to counsel your kids is easy. It's doing it that is harder. I can prepare you for their lashing out but nothing prepares you like when it happens and you notice your own feelings come up. You want to take it personally. You think you're a bad parent. You want to "put them in their place." You want to verbally or physically punish them.

This is where ideals versus resource comes in.

This is where having listening partnerships with other parents comes in. This is a regular occuring appointment you have with another parent. The purpose is to gain resource. Resource with which you will be there at, I'll venture to guarantee, an infinitely more present decibel.

And your young one will respond at an infinitely higher decibel.

Wanna do special time?

Wanna counsel?

It's not easy. At first. But gee it is so rewarding!

(During these special times) do play listening. Have pillow fights, rearrange the furniture to have sock fights where the kids win and the adults lose. It’s a golden time where the kids decide what to do,” says Patty Wipfler.

“These special times put the child in charge, it shifts the power. Adults follow what the child wants to do. Love every idea they have,” says Idleman.

If you've never sat with your young one all the way through a "tantrum" to the other side where they are lucid and relaxed and their mind begins a new intricate inquiry into what the present moment has to offer. If you've never, yourself, had someone listen to you all the way through, I mean all the way through, an inner conflict, then you might find it more difficult to listen to your child.

I set a timer so my pretentiousness doesn't take foot. When I do small increments, that is more in line with what I really have to offer given the way I was raised and the society I am a part of.

A parent writes to Hand in Hand:

"After reading a success story in which the parent did Special Time for 5 minutes every night, it occurred to me that we might try Special Time in the mornings. We already do Special Time with him several times each week, but usually in longer chunks. It hadn’t occurred to me that such a small amount of time would be useful, but it certainly seemed worth a try."

Of course, my kids always seem to know I have much more resource than I actually beleived I did. They will push on you. They will pull on you. That's because you do have much more to give than you ever thought you could give. You have much more attention than it feels like you do. And

And ... they are so much more resilient than you dreamed. They are doing well despite what your own doubts and fears tell you.

A special time class is forming in New Columbia, North Portland, Oregon, USA, to teach listening partnerships for parents and how to counsel your young one during or after their special time. You will need to apply to be in the class. Call LFC 503-341-0665


Blogger Willa said...

Useful post. I enjoyed this a great deal.

4:37 AM PST  

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