Thursday, November 19, 2009

There is a fine line somewhere in the sand and I'm digging around trying to find it. Honestly, I've probably covered it up in the destruction I've left behind. Here is my question/dilema:
If I'm supposed to parent my children in a non-emotional manner - YET - I'm also supposed to teach them how to show emotion in a correct way...aren't those blatant opposites?

My kids' attachment therapist has consistently told me to model good emotional choices - like crying when I watch something sad in a movie (in fact, we purposely watch sad movies to work on emotional reactions)...explaining all the while what made me sad, why my body reacts with tears and sadness. However...when my own children hurt me - I'm supposed to NOT show emotion. That is beginning to make no sense to me. Why should I hide that I'm hurt by them and their action towards me?
Yes...I get it. If I show them I'm hurt, they are 'winning' the control battle. There are just sometimes that I wish, I hope, that letting them win will also mean they break through just a little bit. It's still hard - all this time later - to realize that I live with kids who want to see me hurt...they like to see me sad. The weirdest part is that when I cry after a bad interaction with them, I'm usually crying FOR them. I feel so badly for the hurt they are going through that got them to this point...I feel so badly for them that I'm apparently not helping - or not helping enough.
I just want them to be happy...but be able to show emotions that fit the situation.

Last night I attending a meeting with DS1 about advanced placement at high school. The opportunities there are AMAZING. I sat in disbelief that we've gotten this far and trying to measure how much I would/should be involved in helping him choose his path. Not that I would force him to choose a certain 'career'...but I don't see a 13 year old boy real motivated to take a class with extra homework. He can't see far enough in the future to want to take that path. So, DH and I will admitedly give him a shove and hope for the best.

I guess that's all I can do with all my children - shove them in the right direction and be there if they turn around. Maybe I could get a scary mask so turning around would seem worse?


  1. With many kids, I think that you're correct that we need to impart on them that showing emotion is darn ok. Unfortunately, with kids like your DD and our older, showing emotion can get in the way. So you learn to hold it back, at least until you can get some private time, although sometimes one fails to last that long. That's been the hardest thing for me to teach myself to do...hold back almost any emotion when "something is hitting the fan", as it were. And learning to totally disengage from repeated demands with just silence. Getting angry is the natural thing to do, but that's not permitted and just makes things worse. So hard...

    Hang in there. And congrats on DS1's opportunities!

  2. I remember when we had our son tested for learning disabilities, they showed him pictures of people with different emotions and he had no concept what any of them meant. I was told to work with him on emotions. I see what your therapist meant in that it's ok for them to see you happy or sad as an example of emotions as long as it's caused by someone or something other than the children.

    A friend who is having great success with her adopted daughter credits it to her 20 years experience as a customer service rep. As a parent, she uses all the same techniques she uses with the customers and it seems to be working. She's only lost her temper once in two years. I guess I need a course.