Have you ever felt stuck!?
It’s a common parenting conundrum, for sure. I’ve been there many times. I get stuck in frustrations, sadness, the mom guilt cycle we have talked about here before.
In the Purejoy view we see that you are never truly stuck, but that you might have a one-sided view of the situation at hand.
Here is a metaphor to support. You’ve had a dead battery in your car before- yeah? You open the hood of your vehicle and locate the battery. It has two poles, one positive and one negative. In order to restore power to the dead battery you have to connect both of them to the support source. You have to hook up the negative and the positive. If you only attach one, you will still be sitting there all day- you’ll be stuck. And yet when you connect them both you restore power and then you’re on your way!!!
So often when you are feeling stuck it’s because you’ve got one side of the situation hooked up. The good news is you can practice hooking up the other side also.
In my own parenting journey there have been many times where I was only focused on the negative aspects of a situation with my child. For a time one of my kiddos was hitting quite a lot. He was hitting his sister, the neighbor kids, even me a few times. It was intense, no doubt, and all I could see was that he was being aggressive, hurting others, and that if he couldn’t stop big bad things would happen to him, things that were way out in the future.
I was really stuck, I could not get him to stop.
I could make a long list of negative things I saw, the drawbacks of hitting, and quickly.
Here’s what I’ve practiced over time when I have a long list like that. If one of the sides come quick and easy. I realize I have one side hooked up, and support myself to find the other side. First, I zoom way out, and see that the world is what it is- it’s moving along in neutrality and there truly is nothing wrong or bad- only what is.
From that view I can challenge myself to find the other side.
Back to the example of my son hitting. I sat down with a fresh sheet of paper and said what are the benefits of him hitting!? I can still feel a whole body cringe to remember that moment. Benefits? Of hitting? But ok…I’m safe here sitting in my SacredSeat, in my imagination where in neutrality (the world view above) I trust there is the other side if I am willing to look for it. I’m wishing to get unstuck with this one, and be in true relationship with my child in his moment.
I start by saying- find one, you can find one benefit of his hitting. So I borrowed the one he shared with me, that he really needed the neighbor kiddo to get away from him. Ok! self-defense, that’s one. Then a question that deepens- what’s the benefit of self-defense? He’s holding his boundaries.
I kid you not! Just a few moments into finding the benefits of hitting I felt more connected to my truth as a parent. Something shifted for me. I saw the brilliance of my child’s behavior, of all the ways he was taking care of himself and setting boundaries. My energy was restored. I felt it in my body. I was more relaxed, more present. I had new and more creative ideas now to support my child with what feelings drove him to hit and the curiosity to connect both the negatives and the positives.
It went on a bit more, and as I uncovered more benefits, others revealed themselves. His hitting was yes, boundary-setting, but it was also his embodied feelings, it was communication. Was it a mature way of getting his needs met, no. He was only seven at the time, after all. It really began to paint a picture of the support he might need, and the capacity he had to take care of himself in a moment I was not with him.
I really felt the value of seeing the behavior from both sides, how it invited me into intimacy with my child and his feelings that drove it.
In time I applied this to other parenting moments I felt stuck in.
With my teens and their love of video games! I was stuck in a view of only the negative, again. I thought it was all bad and they were rotting their brains! I believed many parenting tips I had heard about the negative effect of screen time. The list of why it was all bad was quick and easy.
So I took the other side. I practiced- what are the benefits? What are the games like? What does screen time give them? I even tried some of their games!
I found relaxation, entertainment, delight, and consistency. They were engaged, they worked hard, and they were so happy! They were creative and expressive!
It was beautifully connecting to meet them where they were, in the experience they were having. I had to be willing to see the other side.
Here’s what I know now. That the other side is always there it’s just that I’m fixated on the side that serves my beliefs or views. That’s how I get stuck. When I am willing to hook up the other side, the other polarity, I notice I am more free to be myself alongside my kiddos, supporting them to find what works well for them, for their life, and their experience.
So try it this week- if you find yourself really listing out all the reasons something is positive or negative. Hook up the other polarity and see what kind of energy flows into your parenting batteries!