Monday, June 30, 2008

When a Child Threatens to Run Away

Family counselor and TV therapist Randy Rolfe had a client whose 8 year old kept threatening to run away. His mother was at a loss what to do. She had told him he couldn't, had told him he wouldn't last an hour by himself, told him to go ahead - she didn't care, told him his father would be furious, and told him to stop being silly. Yet nothing worked. Almost every day he would be packing up his favorite clothes and toys and fighting with her at the door.

Randy talked with her about what he might be feeling. His father had been away a lot on business, and she had been very busy keeping the house together in his absence. They wondered together if he might be upset he was getting less of her time and attention. She protested that she did everything for him and loved him very much. Randy asked if she had said so lately. She admitted she had not. So they rehearsed a short dialogue.

The next time he threatened to leave, she said, "I guess you are really angry at me. You must be really angry if you want to leave home. I guess I haven't been listening to your problems, have I? Well, why don't you tell me exactly what's bothering you that's making you want to leave, and I promise I'll listen."

He didn't say much, just that he didn't know what to do with himself when she was so busy all the time. She gave him a quick hug, thanked him for telling her, and offered to go to his room to play video games for a little while before supper.

He never threatened to run away again.

Take Home Tip: When you feel your frustration growing because your child is doing something really unfathomable, just ask him what he's feeling and give your total attention without judgment. Most weird behavior is an attempt to get attention when all else has failed. Read Randy's books You Can Postpone Anything But Love and The Seven Secrets of Successful Parents for other creative answers to tough situations.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Empty Nest Syndrome

Someone asked family counselor and parenting educator Randy Rolfe today to help her with her feelings now that she faces "the empty nest" - one child is moving away after college and the other is leaving to go to college. This is the answer Randy gave her, and she said she was so grateful to know that her feelings were quite "normal" and okay. Hopefully it may be helpful to you too.

This is the simple bottom line. Restructuring is the right term. Make sure to tell your husband how you are feeling and that you need more time and attention from him to help you adjust to the new smaller family community.

Things around the house stay where you put them, for example! It’s crazy-making!

Parenting is a life-long process of letting go that starts when you give birth. Humans are designed traditionally to have at least some of their children in their daily lives for life (think tribal living), so this kind of thing we are not well adapted to and it does take mental energy to deal with it.

Let the kids know too that you are feeling a bit needy and it’s not about them, it’s just that you are transitioning to them being who you always imagined they could be.

Make a list of all the great things you did for your children and pat yourself on the back that your job is done. Now you are meant to enjoy the fruits of your labor, even if just from afar.

Have a chat with each child about how often seems right for you both to connect by phone, and keep generally to that schedule. Then they feel you are confident about them and just want to connect regularly out of your love.

Often you hear stuff like get a hobby, blah, blah, blah, but don’t worry about that. It’s about processing your great parenting experience and appreciating it fully, so that you can move on into the second half of your life!

The second half will indeed be wonderful. Randy talks to her children about once a week and sees them monthly or quarterly depending on geography. If it goes longer than that, boy, she feels it in her bones!

But we moms have the glorious gift of love and that pulls us through always!

Take Home Tip: Parents feel separation feelings as deeply as their children. Talk about it freely and confidently. It's all about love.

Read Randy's books You Can Postpone Anything But Love, and The Seven Secrets of Successful Parents to understand more about the gradual process of letting go and celebrating your family all through your life.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Secret to Parenting

The movie and book The Secret have caused a sensation around the world by telling people that their own thoughts can change their world. As a mother myself and in my more than 20 years advising parents, it has been made obvious to me that your thoughts are truly the ONLY way to change your parenting world. How you think about your child will in large part determine how you interact with him or her and how she responds to you and also to the rest of the world.

For example, if you know your child is sweating a test coming up at school, you may be thinking, "I sure hope he studies hard enough to get a good grade so he won't be disappointed." He will feel your fears and doubts. Even if you say nothing. What if instead you changed your thoughts to, "I know he will succeed at whatever he puts his mind to and if he wants to do well he will." Imagine the different vibes he will get from you without a word passing between you.

TAKE HOME TIP: A nice way to check yourself is to imagine what kind of vibes you would have liked to have from your parent in that situation. The Secret is that you attract the reaction you expect. Expect your child to manifest her best self, and she will. And never doubt it. And let her know it.

Find out more, for other specific parenting situation, in my books You Can Postpone Anything But Love, and The Seven Secrets of Successful Parents.