We all look at the world through the ‘lens’ of our beliefs and worldviews. Often, our these beliefs and ways of thinking about parenting have been handed down to us by our own parents in subtle ways such that we don’t give much thought to them, they are just there. That is, until something challenges the old ways of thinking. Then we might hold on to the old ways only because it feels more familiar, not even because it works anymore.
I experienced this when my husband and I brought home 6 year old twins from a Russian orphanage back in 2005. I just assumed the traditional, very authoritarian way I had been parented, and the way we had parented our 5 bio kids would also work for our new sons. My view of their struggles was colored by the lens through which I viewed their challenging behavior – willful disobedience, lazy, attention-seeking, controlling, manipulative, limit-testing, rebellion. Thankfully, I listened when God showed me I needed different glasses.
So much research has gone into what we now know about kids from broken places. No wonder what my husband and I were doing with them wasn’t working – it was counter productive in so many ways to what they really needed – more connection with us, not more discipline or structure. We needed to first know that there is a perfect for us balance between structure and nurture; then we could work on the balance designed just for our family.
So much of what parenting hurt kids can do for us as parents is motivate us to find that new pair of lenses in order to see the needs of our children who became traumatized before we began parenting them. With any new growth on our part as parents and caregivers, we must be willing to trade out a lot of old thinking about what is driving the challenging behaviors of our kiddos, and put on new lenses of compassion. This is harder than it sounds.
I suggest that we let our mantra be Kids do well if they can: if my children could do well, he would do well. That right there was revolutionary for me, who had been taught that I need to be strict on the kids so they don’t get away with anything. What hurt children need are skills of adaptive behavior, not some kind of external motivation to behave well, without the heart change. Often, your child won’t know how anyway, and even when she does know how, her little body is in such a fear state from past trauma that she is unable to follow through. Our kids need our help.
At the core of God’s heart for all of us, and the basis of TBRI is the idea that connection is the most important thing you can offer your child. We are created to connect. I work with parents to show you the tools to guide your child’s behavior while maintaining an emotional connection with them. That was a completely new lens for me. Part of what this means is no yelling, shaming, or sending them to their rooms in isolation. Instead, everything you do for your child is through the lens of creating, maintaining and repairing connection with then. This is how you will begin to see improvements in your child’s behavior, and more joy in your family.
Start with your lens. How do you feel about this statement? Kids do well if they can. The link takes you to a 4 minute video clip of Dr. Ross Greene explaining this idea.
I welcome your thoughts and comments.