It’s Raining Chaos!
Weathering parental storms: A guide on handling conflict with yourself and your children.
Raising children can be challenging at times, but you can make sure you are prepared to face whatever may come your way.
Parental storms arise from personal struggles such as divorce, abuse, employment or illness that impact your relationship with your children. Also, when your child is having troubles such as behavioral problems, being bullied, sexual activity or mental illness, it not only wreaks havoc on your stress level—it also impacts your relationship with your child and the dynamics within the family. Emotional and parental storms are like real storms in the sense that they are out of your control, but necessary for growth. The question is: What are the storms in your life, and how do you weather them?
Here are a few ways for you to prepare yourself for storms:
Check the weather report – Sometimes you get warnings of a storm to come, and other times, it seems to pounce on you. Gathering collateral information can help you identify areas for concern. Stay in touch with your children, even when they try their hardest to lock you out. Pop up at school. Check their social media and technology. Talk to them often. Talk to their teachers, coaches, friends, friends’ parents and imaginary friends, too. Most importantly, children often reflect their environments. So, check yourself. Do a regular self-inventory, and explore how you are feeling and how your actions may be throwing cows into the tornado.
Heed the storm advisory – Denial is not a river in Egypt. If you continue to have the same problem or get the same feedback from your child or others, then ignoring or denying it will not make it stop. People often discount what children say because they are children. But even in their innocence and naivety, they can have profound insight. Actively listen and pay attention to nonverbal cues such as changes in behavior or mood. Ask questions to and about your child, and be open to the responses, even if the feedback is uncomfortable.
Take cover, and batten down the hatches – Cover yourself with an umbrella of support. You’ve heard people say that it takes a village to raise a child. It’s true—you need social support. Call on the positive people in your life for advice, prayer, meditation or a break. Look to your family, friends or church. Join or start a parent support group. Partake in an activity with other parents. No matter how unique the issues are, you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek professional help if the situation does not improve.
Blame it on the rain – Millie Vanilli had it right to “blame it on the rain.” Conflicts like storms are inevitable, so depersonalizing allows you to separate the emotions and focus on the problem. Placing blame will not shelter you. Chalk it up to the weather, and move forward. Reinforce your storm shelter with forgiveness, communication, structured routines and consistency.
Rejoice in the rainbows – Rainbows are those little boasts of beauty in the midst of rain. While it is difficult to see a silver lining behind the clouds in the throes of struggle with your kids, focusing on negativity will only reflect the same. It is important to recognize those moments of calm and goodness. Take a moment to enjoy it, celebrate it and praise it. Those moments are life rafts, saving you and yours from drowning.
Handling conflict within yourself and/or your children is challenging. But, like nature’s storms, “this too shall pass.”
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