A sure fire way for me to slip into ineffective parenting is to parent out of fear. My older kids recognize it and sometimes they’ll even point it out, which I don’t really like, but I’m glad they do it.
I’ve written about this in the past and apparently I still have a long way to go.
All week I’ve struggled with fear over some of Eby’s behaviors. I’ve written of his Sensory Processing challenges in the past. For a long time we thought his behaviors were attachment related, then a professional recognized his sensory problems and we did some work with an OT. Once we had eyes to see the sensory issues, we were able to calm ourselves down and focus on helping him cope. It gave us an entirely new paradigm.
The sensory problems seem to be growing, and despite our efforts to meet Eby’s needs, life is hard for him. I wish we could have worked harder with him these last few years, but most of our energy was focused on Dimples and trying to hold our family together. I made some calls yesterday and hope to not only continue our OT work, but have a more comprehensive evaluation. Sadly, the waiting list is 6 – 8 months, but at least we are on the list.
The issue of my heart this morning is that Eby’s behaviors trigger fear in me. I start thinking, “Oh no, we’re going down another long, horrible path,” or “I can’t handle another really hard child. What am I going to do?” Those are both legitimate fears and questions, but I need to stay present with Eby and not let the fear wash over me. When I do, I become dysregulated, if not externally, internally, and I become significantly less capable of helping Eby regulate himself.
This morning I was able to get Eby to sit next to, as long as I didn’t touch him, and give me enough eye contact to tell him that I’m sorry he had a hard morning and that I love him. Then I sent him get his backpack and coat. Three minutes later, with tears on his cheeks, he came and asked me to help him with the strap on his backpack. I got down and knelt in front of him to get the strap, I spoke softly and told him I was glad that he wanted my help and that I love helping him. Then I lightly touched his cheek, and he didn’t flinch or pull away.
There is no fear in love, friends, and we need to work hard not to let it creep into our parenting. Keeping my find focused on God and his plan for our family helps me. Knowing that he trusted me enough to let me be Eby’s mother gives me confidence that he is going to show us how to meet Eby’s needs.
Question: Do you struggle with fear as you parent your children? Can you share anything you’ve found to be helpful?