New parents know the joy of bringing a tiny one into the world. They are fresh and new and they can do no wrong.
Then they grow up. They begin testing boundaries, they start…talking back?! Where did your innocent sweet baby go. What could have possibly happened?
In short: life. When babies become toddlers and toddlers become kids and kids become teens, parents will tell you it happens all too fast. Growing pains are normal and some defiance is an important part of the adolescent experience. Most families will adjust to this phase, put appropriate boundaries in place and the behaviors will be tamed while independence is nurtured. A well adjusted adult is the result. Congrats parents, you did it.
But sometimes those extremes are too extreme and the defiance is bordering on violence at its worst and unhealthy risky behaviors at its best. The temperature in the family home is constantly at boiling point and you can’t seem to find your way back to peace.
We can examine the “why’s” of how this happens but it’s unique for every family. This deeply personal experience is the reason why so books that offer a one-size-fits-all approach to helping families deal with their children may speak to some areas but ultimately misses the big picture.
I’ve counseled dozens of families in my time as a therapist and no two families have ever been exactly alike. No two families need the same kind of intervention. But in all the families that I have seen the common thread that runs through them is the intense need for parents to connect with their children – but not knowing how anymore. When they were babies and toddlers it was easy…you as mom or dad were the only ones in the world to them, the ones they reached out to when they had a scraped knee or something scared them. The connection was strong and a given.
As kids age, parents (to no fault of their own) begin to lose that connection because they forget that their children are changing. Parents want so badly to hang out to their children’s “kid-ness” that they resist and become rigid in the face of the obvious evidence that their babies are growing up. As a result, opportunities to connect on this new level are missed. Children feel that their parents don’t care about anything but punishing them, and parents feel that their children don’t love or need them anymore. Distance grows and behaviors get out of control. Parents feel hopeless, kids feel lost.
No wonder so many families are hurting. If you find that you’re in a similar situation, I encourage you to examine those pains. Examine the struggles in your family that you may not be addressing, but instead avoiding. And if you’re ready, reach out to someone who can help.