Being on theme with Valentine’s week, I want to share a therapy technique I use when I get stuck. What does it mean to get stuck as a therapist?
There are some parents that are simply difficult to work with
because they are in a loop of complaining about their child. When in that loop, it becomes difficult to see any hope, love, future success, etc. for your child. As a third party observer, I can see how toxic this type of thinking is for both the parent and the child. It becomes tricky to navigate between holding the caregiver’s feelings and also challenging them to change their thought process.
I have a variety of therapy techniques to use to get a parent out of that loop and one of my favorites is to bring ideally both parents in for a session with their children and simply say, “Tell me your love story. Good, bad, ugly, beautiful.” Talking about their love story in front of their children creates a space for a conversation shift away from the child and his or her behaviors and gets down to at some point a happy place.
Regardless of where the relationship ended, at some point, there was a glimmer of happiness and hope.
I explore with the parents their first kiss. I love watching them smile and look at each other and most of the time argue about when and where the first kiss happened. Some don’t remember which is telling as well. Asking the parents about what their first conversations were like on their first few dates or get togethers is refreshing for the children to hear. I am by no means saying that we should promote a fairy tale to children, however, I am saying to be cautious about the language you use around relationships.
No matter what, your child will grow up and need to form relationships with others.
While many of those relationships will be easy or even mandatory (work relationships for example), there will be some that are difficult. Being married, being a parent, being an adult who has feelings for another adult is really hard to manage at times. It is essential for your own mental health as well as for your children’s mental health to talk about the special moments.
Parents who have been through a lot can become cynical and children cannot interpret what cynicism is.
Tell your kids about your love story.
Share with them the magical moments, even if it was when your hand was grabbed for the first time in the parking lot of Applebees. Those moments will serve as a learning tool for your children on how to love and how to show love toward others. It will teach them that even though the world is a scary, sometimes sad, sometimes unforgiving place, there is value in searching for the silver lining.
My blog title is “In Between the Lines” because of how strongly I feel that we HAVE to look for the positives smushed in a disgustingly gross sandwich of hate, fear, judgement, drama, and violence. It is not that hard to do when you start to practice it. Just last night, my mom told me on the phone something she has told me many times over my life, “Kelley, everything happens for a reason.” Go back through it, find the good, share the good.