THE FIRST STEP: Describe one or more areas in which you feel you could be more effective as a parent.
When it comes to using Pain-2-Power as parents, the First Step is one in which you ask yourself, what is it we you most want to change about your relationship with your child or children? It isn’t enough to say you want things to improve. Ask yourself how you want them to improve or what area of your child’s life you better want to understand. Do you want more closeness, more obedience, less drama? Do you wish that you could get past a specific event from the past that led to conflict between you?
Put your thoughts on paper and expand on whatever feels truest to you. What kind of fights happen a lot? When things are tense between you, what is the point of tension? You may feel like you have a million and one problems with your children, and that’s OK. Many, many parents do. But as you begin to think and write and then read what you’ve written, it’s likely one issue will initially stand out as the one that really nags at you or keeps you up at night, or seems to be the one that your son or daughter complains the most about, and that area is where you want to put your energy—at first. Later, you’ll identify other areas, and address them one by one.
Don’t worry that by choosing your first issue to focus on that you’ll be neglecting the others. Think of whichever one you decide is the most pressing in your relationship as the door that leads you into the house of your truth. It doesn’t matter how you enter, as long as you manage to get inside. Because once you start to move from room to room, you will eventually see the underlying emotions, fears and desires limiting the richness of your relationship with your child (or children). And once uncovered, all those feelings and realizations can give you the key to understanding not only what the trouble really is, but how to fix it.
I believe problems are linked. When you start to uncover the roots anchoring the main problems in your relationship with your child, you’ll end up tracing the roots of other problems, too.
Here are some of the ways you might express a desire to parent more powerfully:
- I wish my children felt safer turning to me for insight and support.
- I wish my husband and I could be more of a united front when it comes to disciplining our children.
- I wish that my child and I did not fight so much.
- I wish that I were able to help my child do better in school.
- I wish I were not so obsessively worried about the health and safety of my children.
- I wish that I could help my son past the resentment he feels about my divorce.
- I wish that I could help my daughter identify worthy goals that move her.
You definitely want to feel when you read your statement that it strikes you as real, and maybe even touches you emotionally. But your goal isn’t set in stone. It isn’t crucial to identify the exact right issue or problem when you begin doing this work. What is important is you have decided to uncover the truth about why your relationship isn’t working ideally. Because uncovering the truth, choosing to be reflective rather than reactive, leads us to deeper truths. It leads us to question what we thought we wanted and needed as parents from ourselves and our kids, and to imagine positive changes.
Dr. Keith Ablow
Check back soon for the next 7 steps of Pain-2-Power Parenting. I’ll be adding a link to an e-book on the topic.