perfect little angels

September 7, 2006

I’ve been reading the Continuum Concept email list again and there are a few postings at the moment that reflect our own experience with child rearing – which is that no matter how hard we try to provide the best circumstances for our children it often appears to be making absolutely no difference.

And I’m not just talking here about parents moaning because their kids aren’t perfect but about children (especially around the age 4) who are nearly impossible to live with, and even worse, children who seem quite unhappy a lot of the time.

It leads to a lot of heartache for the parents – and despair about what to do next too.

One thing that occurs to me is that we might be falling into the trap of comparing our children with those raised with more ‘conventional’ child rearing practices which usually involve breaking the child’s will and creating a subdued version of the original personality. The result being that the children either don’t express their feelings to their fullest or that they don’t bother to express them at all, so strong is their subconscious belief that their parents don’t care.

It might be that the results for parents of 4 year olds who were not left to cry as babies and who have been allowed to express themselves is a child in the midst of expressing the full horrors of living in civilisation (which would be perfectly logical). The possible causes for our children’s unhappiness is endless, starting with toxins in the food and environment, passing right through to the unresolved trauma that we as parents express in our daily lives – and then even beyond that to the unresolved trauma that was passed on to our kids in the womb and for which there is just absolutely nothing we can do.

I think 4 year olds are still at the stage where most modes of expression are physical and this combined with what I assume is an increasing ability to sense that not all is well in their world combines to produce these often violent little people. I know it’s better for them to get this stuff out of their system but it’s nearly impossible to cope with on a full time basis – members of our extended family get worn out after just a couple of hours with our kids and that’s when they’re usually at their best.

So far there hasn’t been any really useful advice on the CC list (which is a bad sign because it’s usually such a good resource) and I can’t comment on the individual people because I haven’t even met them but I’m going to assume that the problems stem from a) our chemically toxic environment and b) our own unresolved trauma as parents. I suspect that most people aren’t aware of all the myriad of ways that this affects their own behaviour. I tend to think that I have a good awareness of this ‘myriad of ways’ because I am writing and reading about it a lot of the time, it’s possible that that’s just my denial system kicking in but either way the knowledge of the issues I am aware of is not enough for me to keep myself under control – especially in the pressure cooker situation of a nuclear family with two small children who both want to use that toy right now damn it!

When there’s no where else to turn all I can do is remind myself of the logic of the principle’s of child raising that I believe in and remember that I’m in the middle of a 15-20 year project. Most importantly though I need to remind myself to have patience.


One comment

  1. Applause applause to you for your concientious, intentional parenting! You are correct, what you are going through right now is the appropriate and to-be-expected result of such child-centered and child-honoring parenting. If your children were quieter, more “well behaved” it would show that you had been taking out your own unresolved trauma on them. Man I just love hearing that parents like you exist. Parents who know about the existence of their own unresolved trauma(s). This is the way I and my ex raise our children, and the judgments and knowing glances between members of the extended family are hard to bear. Alas, my children moved to Illinois with their mother after our divorce. One of the best things that I would remember to do in moments of nearly unbearable frustration with my children was to help them recognize and name their feelings. “Wow, you’re really feeling frustrated right now, sweetie.” “I can tell that you’re feeling homesick right now, aren’t you honey.” And then to not “banish” them for those feelings. Time outs were for unacceptable behaviors, never for emotions, and almost never happened away from everyone else (like sending them to their room.) While helping them name their feelings wasn’t a way to change behaviors (which I desperately longed for), it was a way for me to ground myself, give myself a pause, and try my best to make it be about the children rather than about myself. Commenting in one paragraph about parenting is a bit silly, as you well know, but I just wanted to give you a little cheerleading. Your way is the right way, and it is not at all the easy way.

    Posted by: casemeau | 09/08/2006

    Oops….Ahem….Your way is *a* right way….:-)

    Posted by: casemeau | 09/08/2006

    Hey Casemeau, it’s nice to hear some encouragement instead of the usual doubtful tones – and I like what you say about the difference between unacceptable behaviour and emotions – it’s a distinction worth remembering in those stressful moments

    Posted by: Aaron | 09/10/2006

    Hi. New to this blog. I’m the mother of two sons. The youngest is nearly four, so I know where you’re coming from. When he completely loses his mind over something, he begins shouting, “Ooooh I have anger.” At that point I ask him if he likes feeling that way. Usually the answer is “No.” “Well, let’s take it out then, ” I say. I have him open his mouth then I pretend to use a lot of effort (lots of grunting and pulling motions) to take the anger out of his body, then we look at it. “What does it look like? Feel like?” After that I ask him if he’s done with the anger. If he says yes, we pretend to throw it away, shouting things at it all the while. If he says no, then I tell him it’s ok to carry it around for a while. I know this sounds goofy, but it usually works.

    Posted by: Loretta | 09/12/2006

    Loretta, that sounds great. At the moment our four year old goes totally uncommunicative when she’s angry, it’s pretty frustrating and about all we can do is wait for her to feel less overwhelmed – while tryingto model calmness and not frustration :-)

    Posted by: Aaron | 09/12/2006

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