Losing a sense of connection
Isn’t it funny, when you are expecting there are lots of people available to give advice, from family, friends and even from magazines, media.
They tell you how to bond, bathe, even how to socialise them. We hope that the foundations we have put in will make them strong and independent, kind and assertive. We hope that we give them ll the tools they need for the world outside of our bubble. We follow as much guidance as we can find when new challenges come up, or we go with the knowledge we carry from our ancestors. We are always questioning whether we get it right.
We get comfortable with our kids when they are small, we get to know them inside out. All their loves, hates, likes and dislikes. Then we reach adolescents.
Have you noticed that the advice suddenly thins out? No one talks you through the tough stuff like, that strong mind has them asserting themselves at every given opportunity?
No one talks to you about the fact that they stop liking everything you know about them. They stop wanting to hang around with you, its like trying to get to know a whole new person.
Feeling this sense of break in the connection with our little people is so hard to cope with as parents and can often leave us feeling unsure of how we best support them. There is a sense of sadness in what we lose when our children are exploring who they are. We feel that loss of connection with them.
But the good news is If we stay curious and see them for who they are and not who we think they are, we can have a beautiful new connection.
While I am definitely not saying that is easy, it can be a wonderful adventure.
My kids ages are 9, 10, 13, 15 and boy its tough but what I have learned (well I am learning)
The less I am holding on to how they were the more I am enjoying the new. Tough, especially wen it feels like you are up against it. I always am with the 4 of them. But when I am curious about what they are doing they show me little pieces of gold dust. For example, my boy has a newfound love of history. He shares so many interesting facts. He is super sensitive to emotions, always asking for explanations of what makes people respond the way that they do. I don’t think I would have noticed this before if I had still seen him as the football loving wreck it ralph kind of boy he was.
My eldest daughter was super independent as a baby, she wanted to do everything on her own. She walked the quickest, talked the quickest and just so confident in exploring the world. Now I find her more reserved, she enjoys intimate connections and is less adventurous. But the beauty is the fact she is willing to share herself with me now. For a spell, she often didn’t want to spend time with me.
My youngest and my middle child are really struggling to find themselves. So that means lots of boundary pushing (sometimes breaking rules). That means lots of what feels like endless negotiation (nagging).
Here at Potential in families, use the term get curious. Now at first my thought was yeah I am curious, but where am I going wrong?
Now do you see what I did there? I went straight to self-blame. I assumed I was getting it wrong.
How often do you find yourself internalising when things go wrong or when things are so tough?
The shame we feel and the blame we take as parents is often challenging to hold. It often causes us to respond in ways we are actually not happy with, which then intensifies the blame and shame that we did not handle things the way we wanted to.
So how do we support ourselves, to regulate and shake that blame and shame that we don’t deserve. How do we get to a place where we can explore the adventures with our children, without feeling that loss of connection?
Hindsight, how much of a bummer is that after we have time to think about it?
Did you know?
The reason we have hindsight is because we allowed the time and space for the frontal cortex (our thinking brain) to come back online?
When we are stressed our thinking brain leaves us so we respond entirely on the reaction of our Survival brain and our body.
So I would like to invite you to practise a little something the next time you feel stressed or are in the midst of something overwhelming. This is a great tool for our children too.
Now the aim of this is to offer enough space and time for the thinking brain to come back online so that we can have calmer reactions. (Especially, when people are pushing our buttons).
Sounds much more complicated than it is but super simple to do. Ok so I invite you to practise this every time you need to answer a question. Not specifically a question that challenges you just in your every day life. The more that we practise this, the more it becomes habit.
Coherent breathing means to breathe in and out in equal measure.
For example: Breathe in for 4, Breathe out for 4.
Do what feels comfortable, maybe you can do 6 in and 6 out or you can only do three in and three out. The aim is to do what is comfortable to you. So lets do that every time and let me know how you get on.
Does it help you respond more rationally and calmly?
If you notice that there is less guilt attached to your responses let us know what your thoughts are on inviting in coherent breathing in your relationships around you? Is it a useful tool?
It wont work for everyone but the hope is that with lots of different tools in our belts we find the one that fits with our own family dynamics.