13 Tamuz 5779 / Tuesday, July 16, 2019 | Torah Reading: Pinchas
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Ending the Crazy-8 Parenting    

Ending the Crazy-8 Parenting

The longer a negative relationship pattern between you and your child continues, the more doubtful you both become that anything could change it; here's your chance...


Do you ever yearn for a better relationship with one of your kids but you just don’t know how to break out of the pattern of tension and conflict that’s developed between you? The longer a negative relationship pattern between you and your child continues, the more doubtful you both become that anything could change it. After a while your child may feel that he or she can almost predict the way you’re going to respond to them. You too may feel that you actually know how your child is going to react even before they do. At those times when your theory about your child was “correct” you may say to yourself, “I knew it…I knew he would do it again…how could he forget to take the garbage out -- again?! That kid will never listen!!””


Every time that your child disappoints you, he also grows more certain that no matter what he does, it will disappoint you. He learns to look for your disappointed reaction to everything he does. You in-turn may be (unconsciously) looking for selfishness or rebelliousness in whatever your child is doing. Then what happens is that your beliefs about them and their beliefs about you become so rigidified and entrenched, that your relationship breaks down. This has been called a “crazy eight pattern” – since you both feel that you’re trapped in a vicious circle with each other that will never end.


An effective strategy to break out of this type of discouraging pattern is to do something unexpected that is so different from what your child expects that it interrupts the pattern and makes the kid wonder: “What's going on here?” Circuits are redirected, even if only temporarily, and hostilities are suspended. Grab that moment, when they are open to changing how they relate to you, and give them a new message, or develop a new way of having a conversation with them. This leads to a new, healthier, stronger bonding experience with your child. Try to act in a way that shows that you have a new, heartfelt understanding of your child. I hear so many kids say: “My parents don't understand me.” The good news is that parents really can understand their kids, it's just usually, the child stopped wanting to communicate with them.


Anything that you do that doesn’t fit into the narrow image your child has pigeon-holed you into could lead to a breakthrough in your relationship. Make jokes; dance around the house; change your seat; dress differently; start taking more days off from work... Whatever unplanned, spontaneous activity you pick, like taking them on a hike, sleeping in a tent in your backyard, or bouncing with them on a trampoline. Each of these types of occurrences, even if they’re small ones, could potentially create a breakthrough moment when Hashem will bring your child closer to you, once again.


Remember Emuna Coaching’s rules of successful parenting:


* Have less rules

* Take a more flexible approach

* Remember kids are not adults

* Remember you were a kid once too

* Parents are teachers, not disciplinarians

* Teach and lead by example

* Child-rearing starts with “self-rearing”

* Be willing to fail

* Never “demand” to be honored

* Keep asking yourself: “what’s really going to work for this child or teenager?”


Here's one last question: Has anyone ever gone the distance for you? Have they shown you pro-active love and concern? Have they given you their time, or shown you special attention? If yes, then you know how wonderful it is to have a parent who really cares for you. If not - you know how painful that feels, and that is surely enough motivation all by itself to break the negative pattern that’s developed between you and your children, and create a healthier relationship with them.



* * *

We invite you to visit Dr. Zev Ballen's popular daily web journal Spiritual Coaching.

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