Thursday, January 10, 2013

More Nurture in 2013

In my years as a mental health/substance abuse therapist there were things that just never seemed right to me, but I was not always able to articulate them.  One of those things is in the area of parenting.  It seemed like problem behaviors and issues were dealt with by charts, rewards, consequences, etc.  Those things are not necessarily bad and definitely have a place in parenting.  However, one element seemed to be left out nurturing our children.  Somehow it seems like we seem to have forgotten that children need to be nurtured.  The way they need to be nurtured is going to vary from child to child as there is no one size fits all. 

One diagnosis I saw on the rise when I left my career was Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Now there are truly cases that are very serious that need intervention so if you have a child who needs that then please seek that out or if you know a parent who has a child needing intervention then offer support and encouragement.  However, I believe that some of the reasons for the rise in this diagnosis is the idea that if we nurture our children then we are "babying them" or children or that our children must keep up with what everyone else his/her age is doing.  When we bring a new baby home we nurture that child.  This is a good thing, but where I believe we fall short as a society is that we lessen the nurturing too soon.  When the child care provider, the teacher at school, or the "expert" says we should then we lessen our nurture.  However, in my opinion we can use these opinions as a guide, but not the rule.  I am not saying that teachers or experts in child development don't have some good ideas because they do serve a very good place in our society.  They are not experts on my child as an individual.  I am the mom and I have been with them since conception.  I should not let my own instincts go because an expert contradicts it.  We need to monitor our own children and follow what that child uniquely needs.  That is our job as parents.  A teacher at school has to tailor the class to meet the needs of the majority and I am not putting that down-- in fact I highly respect teachers for their ability to do this.  However, there seems to be an idea I have noticed in some families where "teacher knows best" and it is replacing the family nurturing.  I want to encourage moms and dads to make sure they are nurturing their children, listening to them, and in the process teaching them to respect those in authority such as teachers.  When I was a child in school my parents and teachers worked together.  Now it seems that parents have given their jobs to teachers or other experts.  So I encourage parents to nurture their children.

That being said I have realized this is an area I need to improve on.  I shared in a post yesterday that I realized that I did not need to meet others expectations.  This has given me some freedom to examine what needs to be done in my own family.  I have one child whom had the early bonding between he and I disrupted-- he was 8 months old at the time.  He has had some struggles as he has grown.  I have been told it was because I babied him too much and others who told me that I did not nurture him enough.  This only made things worse as I was struggling to find myself as mom and this affected my son as well.  Recently, however, I have been observing, praying, and asking the Lord to give me some guidance on this subject.  I now see that my son needs more nurture.  I love him so much, but I am not sure he realizes or feels this in the way that he should.  Our children develop their concept of Christ through their relationship with us when they are young.  Also the relationship I build with him now will help him to trust me in his adolescent years when he will need him mom and it will not always be considered acceptable by his friends.  His friends could likely suggest extremely harmful things that he might be more willing to accept than if he knew he could talk to him mom about it.  My prayer is that he will love the Lord his whole life and he will seek out parental counsel at appropriate times when he is older. 

I realized that he is not the only one who needs more bonding to heal.  I have been hurt by our lack of bonding as well.  So I believe we will both heal as I take the initiative to nurture him.  I have realized that I know my older son, he and I have a close relationship.  I am so glad that my older son talks to me about things and asks questions when he encounters things with other children that are new to him or don't seem right to him.  We have talked about things that are pretty big at a pretty young age because other children in the community are dealing with these things.  I realize that God needs to repair things for my younger son and I to have this kind of relationship.  I also have discovered that I do not always know how to show love to our youngest in a way that his heart hears "I love you."  The fact that I love him does not mean much when he does not receive this message.  I started reading a book called The Five Love Languages for Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.  I am asking the Lord to give me some insight as I read this book and as we live out our day together.  I just know God has some healing to bring to my relationship with my younger son.  That is one change I am making in 2013 is to nurture my children more-- especially the youngest.

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