Breaking the Cycle Dysfunctional Parenting: What important idea have I learned from being a parent? Parents must be able to raise themselves before they can raise their children properly. This includes identifying dysfunction from their own childhood (even inherited dysfunctional patterns) so the cycle can finally come to an end. The most important thing I have learned is that we need to face the truth (no matter how ugly it is) about our family background, relationships, and/or genetics in order to make a plan to treat ourselves better than ever by getting the help that is needed to identify the negativity and stop it all before the cycle repeats itself again. Once I identified the negativity, I made sure the cycle of it ended with me, never extending to my daughter.
Death of a Relationship: There are stages necessary for recovery. My relationship involves the death of my union from teaching. I was described to me as a divorce: I still loved it and cherished it, but it no longer loved me back. It had become toxic and no longer was good for me. Stage 1: DENIAL---"This cannot be happening to me!?!" This stage was only temporary and used as a defense for me to move forward as I felt incredibly guilty about those left behind (students, colleagues, etc). Stage 2: ANGER---"Why is this happening to me?!?" I was difficult to deal with because I was so incredibly angry. I had misplaced feelings of rage and envy, protection of my worth and resentment, all revolving around my resignation. Stage 3: Bargaining---"I will do anything to keep teaching..." Basically I was holding on to false hope, that I would somehow be able to reform my life in order to still teach, even though I knew and understood it was the end, but if I could just do this or that, just maybe..." Stage 4: Depression--- "I miss teaching so much. What else is there to love for?" I was starting to understand the certainty of this death of a relationship and started to become silent, wanted to be left alone, and spent many hours just crying. I disconnected from all love and affection as I grieved this tremendous loss in my life. Stage 5: Acceptance---"This will be OK. I can't fight the inevitable anymore. I must move forward..." FINALLY, I started to find peace and understanding, however, still wanted to be left alone, but at least my physical (crying, constant pain, etc.) were subsiding. This was the end of the relationship struggle: the death of my relationship with teaching.
Intentional Parenting and Teaching: Connection is key with respect being the foundation: talk little and listen A LOT. I have found that many kids of all ages WANT to talk more with the adults in their lives BUT these adults just don't have enough time or don't care to make the time. Um, I think there is a reason as to why we have two ears and one mouth! From my experience, listening is so important as we model and mold, love and encourage. What's good for the parent/teacher is also for the child: understanding, patience, acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, love, discipline and natural consequences. What are those goals we have as teachers and parents for the children we care for? Here are some that come to mind for me: joy, happiness, harmony, cooperation, kindness, connection, security, mutual respect, etc. Speaking of mutual respect, how does one build this in a relationship? By always setting boundaries as they build self-confidence and awareness in both parent/teacher and in child.
How to Break the Parenting Toxic Cycle: First, you must realize that what a child sees, s/he will most likely do, but you can transform dysfunctional into functional once you step back and look at it from a different perspective. If you are a complainer or a blamer, what do you expect from your child? The cycle will continue. If you criticize others without a second thought, what do you think your child will do? Take inventory about how your household is run and see if you can change the outcomes. Also, please keep in mind the actual time you spend with your child. Are you constantly doing things (working, reading, serial media searching, shopping, texting, etc) which make you, as a parent, unavailable? Be aware of becoming a "dry addict" if you decide if you are unavailable for any reason. I know I was addicted to work at one time and once my addiction was gone, I felt out of control, which then made everything else feel out of control. I found myself becoming more controlling, critical, competitive, and full of anxiety which added to the confusion and chaos. Once I realized what was happening, I stepped back and took inventory and intentionally made changes to stop the toxic cycle from continuing.
Classroom and Family Temperaments: What makes a household or classroom successful? I believe that by acknowledging temperaments is a huge key to success. People are all born with different temperaments. I believe we should acknowledge and be aware of the temperaments of all those we encounter while fostering patience and understanding. Bringing this all to light can immediately cultivate empathy, patience, acceptance and growth on the parts of ALL parties involved.
Family Time: This has been a God-sent for our family to bond. Every night (for about 30 minutes more or less) we do Family Time. We turn off all electronics and do something as a family. During this time, we bond as a family and nurture each other's existence as we connect with each member, without the outside world of technology as our means of facilitating connection. What do we do? We play games, tell stories, come up with imagination plays, take a hike, go for a bike ride, bake cookies, play outside in the backyard, read a book together, etc. Family Time has been a wonderful tool to create bonding within our family unit.
How to Build Strong Bonds by Active Listening and Steps: 1) I listened to students as they described their wants- something they wanted to have. I would often ask, "Do you believe this is necessary?"2) I listened to students as they described their needs- something they felt they needed to have. I often listened for the need and its significance. I often would think back to Maslow's Heirachy from undergrad in order to decipher for them and ask, "So in order to feel good, you need this? Tell me why, please..." 3) I would listen and ask about their values; values draw us forward and are inherent in our own genetic make-up and be can be changed/developed as we grow, learn and experience life. I would ask, "In your heart, is this who you really are? How do you feel about this?" 4) We would discuss road blocks: these can hinder personal development by not wanting to disappoint others, over promising, never saying no, not setting boundaries, etc. I would ask, "
1. Denying negative emotions and feelings only intensifies them; acknowledging them (through any sort of medium) allows good feelings to return while healing in the process.
2. LOVE is the strongest emotional vibrational frequency which exists. Focus on love.