Weekly Special: This is Me Loving You
January 18, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Josh was out of town at a Librarian conference. He ended up being gone for 6 days. Young children are really needy, so the thought of going without back-up for 6 days was quite the undertaking, in my mind.
The first two days, the kids asked for Papi a lot. Were we going to pick him up from the airport? Where was he? Was he at work? Can we call him? Can we send him a message?
After these initial days of personal stress, not knowing how I was going to deal with no breather, I had a bit of a cathartic break-through. I realized that I was involving myself in a trauma drama cycle.
How does this work?
As you can see in the diagram below, one person plays the victim role, another the perpetrator and another the rescuer.
What I began to realize was that I was making myself into the rescuer of any disagreement between my children. I would assume one to be the perpetrator (the one taking the toy, for example) and the other the victim (the one crying, usually).
I would come in to save the day. I would start getting mad at the kid I assumed was the perpetrator and comfort the kid I thought was the victim. Every time I heard a disagreement, I’d assume my role and make other assumptions about my kids.
I resented their disagreements. I was also exhausted after each episode. Until I saw the cycle repeat itself.
Maybe it was my husband being gone for so long that gave me the opportunity to open my eyes and see that engaging in this trauma drama cycle with my kids wasn’t the best thing for us. Maybe it was just timing all around.
I don’t particularly enjoy hearing my kids bicker, nor do I prescribe to the “let them work it out” all the time, but unless it sounds like they could use some guidance, I wait before stepping in to assist. The truth is that they do come to me when they can’t figure something out. But I’ve got to say that I do get excited when I hear them figure out how to manage the last cookie or the hurt feelings. I feel happy for them.
I do have to remember that just as you can over-design in fashion (doing more to your garment and hurting the overall effect), you can over-parent. What is over-parenting? As this article puts it: “Over-parenting comes from the belief that for a child to be happy and secure, he must be protected from unpleasant or sad experiences.”
Childhood disputes are for childhood. I don’t want my children having to sort through childhood disputes as adults. As much as it pains me to see my children cry over “spilled milk”, I know that it’s part of life. They will have lots of upsets as their lives get more complex. I will be here for them, as I am now.
If I do believe that we are given tests that match our capacity, then I will trust my kids’ capacity to endure the tests that come their way. As they show me how upset they are, I will hold their hand and be present. I can’t fix every sad face and that’s a reality I will hold to.