7 Habits of Emotionally Healthy Parents (Part 3)
Please notice I said emotionally healthy parents are in control. I did not say emotionally healthy parents are controlling, there isdifference. Emotionally healthy parents are not controlling however, they are in control or their thoughts, actions and emotions.
When we keep our thoughts, actions and emotions under control we are better parents and, we parent better. We parent from a wise mind, not an emotionally dysregulated one. Emotional dysregulation is a term often used to describe an over reactive response to a situation. The term itself means “not regulated.” Here are a few phrases I have used in the past to describe my emotionally dysregulated responses to my kids.
I “Blew A Gasket.”
I “Over Reacted.”
I “Lost It.”
Can you relate to what I am saying? Have you ever lost it with one of your children? Have you ever over reacted to a situation with your children? Me too. However, I did not want to stay that way or parent that way on a consistent basis. We can beat ourselves up or we can believe better. Let’s believe better and start moving away from emotionally dysregulated responses to wise minded ones.
Parents who are emotionally healthy respond to difficult situations with a wise mind, not a dysregulated one. Think of a wise mind as a balanced mind not an emotionally reactive one. Think of God’s response to His first kids in the garden.
When Adam and Eve heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, they hid from God. Genesis 3:8 MSG. So, why hide? The same reason our kids hide, they made a bad choice and they are feeling ashamed. An emotionally dysregulated God would not be walking in the garden He would be running in yelling, “Where are you? Get out from behind those trees now!”
God, being wise in mind, “Called out to the man, ‘Where are you?’” Genesis 3:9 MSG. A wise mind often comes with a question mark, not an exclamation point. God knew where His kids were. He not only knew where they were hiding but why they were hiding. He knows why your kids hide and He knows why parents hide. The simple answer is shame and fear.
We don’t want to avoid frustration as parents we want to embrace it, learn from it, and grow in it! As parents we have our fair share offrustrating moments sometimes on a weekly basis but most often on a daily or hourly one. When those times come how do we respond?
Do we blurt out whatever we are thinking at the time?
Do we stuff it and blow up later?
Do we smile and talk to ourselves?
Do we put ourselves in “time out?”
Do we “blow a gasket, over react or loose it?”
Or, do we respond with a wise mind?
4 Steps To A Wise Mind
My default used to be and still can be an emotionally dysregulated one. As a result I have to think in a way that will help me “get into” wise mind. Wise mind doesn’t just “happen” naturally at first. It will become more apart of you once you begin to practice it but it takes some time.
Here are four steps we can take to move ourselves away from emotional dysregulation and into wise mind.
Watch what is happening or what is going on around you. It could be chaotic and there could be crying. Listen to what is being said, take note of the sounds, the frustration. Take note of your own emotions. Are they starting to rise? Is the volcano beginning to rumble? Take in the experience.
How would you describe the experience you are seeing and hearing? At this point you are being careful not to judge or jump to conclusions. You are simply putting words to what you are experiencing.
Your emotions may be a raging inferno of wrath that you want to blurt out right there in the moment. You may want to engage immediately with your child or children. Speaking from experience I don’t think I have ever said anything valuable when I immediately and emotionally reacted to a situation. In fact, I usually made the situation worse by engaging my mouth when my emotions were out of control. I would say things I did not mean and I would say them in a way that was full of anger. What if we took a moment to simply empty ourselves of that adrenaline that was coursing through our bodies before we engaged? (There is another post coming on the ways we can empty ourselves before engaging)
You are now ready to engage. You are fully aware of your emotions but you are not acting on them. You are “Walking In The Garden” and you are ready with a question mark not an exclamation point. There is no blame there is no shame. You are seeking to understand with grace, love and mercy.
Emotionally healthy parents learn, over time, to take control of their emotions so they can respond in ways that is full of love and understanding.
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