I spent nearly ninety minutes in the rocking chair yesterday with Dora, processing where we’ve been these past three weeks, and where we need to go. She did her morning chore well, for the first time in days. (In fact, she did it correctly this morning, too. She’s acquired more practice on animal clean-up duty today as she tackled the round pen where the horse now resides!)
We talked about how her passive/aggressive behavior rises up whenever she feels like a “throwaway kid”. We talked about her inherent worth, her many gifts and talents, and her right to be treated as a valuable person. We talked about the parents’ job in the parent/child relationship as well as the child’s responsibilities in the relationship.
I told Dora that not every parent was willing and/or able to become a therapeutic parent. I described the vicious cycle that occurs when parents expect certain behaviors or responses from a child that the child can’t meet … and how the parents (understandably) become angry and resentful … increasing their negative responses to the child, thereby increasing the child’s stress and inability to respond any differently. I told Dora it was the parents’ job to help the child figure out how to respond differently, and that it wasn’t enough for the parents to demand a change in behavior … some tools needed to be given to the child to facilitate the change. I remember how tired I was of being told how the problem was all my fault … by mental health professionals and all the folks who should have been helping me out of the fire, but instead only fanned the flames. When I came to the realization that although the problem was not of my doing, it fell upon me to be the one to make the changes … it was a sobering moment. I didn’t want to acknowledge that it was, indeed, me who needed to break the cycle. (Check out the crazy cycle.)
Similarly, I explained how it then became the child’s job and the child’s choice to decide whether to use those tools … and in the case of Amy, she chose not to do so. I acknowledged that there came a point in time where I “quit” on Amy … deciding not to invest any more effort on her life until she did likewise. However, I did not make that decision lightly, and did so only after more than a decade of effort. And … I did so with great, great sadness.
More coming about our conversations, about rages and tantrums, and the ongoing school saga …