Part 3 - Learning how to handle the hard parenting moments.
If you missed part 2 click here about building a connection with your child -
When my son first came out we had a lot of hard moments. In fact, for a while, it felt like all the moments were hard.
Eventually, things started to feel less hard. We learned how to be better parents for our LGBTQ child and how to manage his needs. Now it is rare for us to have a hard moment, in fact, I thought we were over having hard moments...I was wrong.
Last week our son came home for Christmas. He was excited, we were excited, but we forgot that it takes him some transition to ease back into the chaos of five sisters. Currently, the dynamic of our house is 3 teenage girls and 1 preteen living at home. The chaos of those 4 girls is our norma, but it can be a lot - loud conversations, many things going on at all times, basically, just lot's of busy- chaos is our normal.
Our son getting used to finding his place and feeling heard in that chaos was the result of a really hard moment. Experiencing that hard moment made me realize 3 things:
Even if you have a great relationship that doesn't mean you are free from having hard, the hard is probably always going to pop-up occasionally.
I have gotten a lot better at handling the hard moments.
The hard moments do not define me as a mother.
You will experience all the emotions in parenting and some of theses moments will feel very unfun. Being the parent doesn’t make you immune to feeling hurt by what your child is saying and doing.
Parenting can feel overwhelming and hard. There will be days that you will feel like you are doing it all wrong and you will struggle with your confidence. You will need to keep reminding yourself that experiencing bad moments with your child does not make you a bad parent.
In our recent hard moment, even with all of my experience and knowledge, I still needed to remind myself that just because we were having a hard moment that didn't mean I was a bad mom. When the incident was happening my brain immediately went to I was doing something wrong and that this was my fault.
See how our brains make these hard moments about us and that something had gone wrong. When we experience negative emotions, our brains look for evidence that we are doing something wrong. Because my son was angry and I was feeling frustrated, at that moment my brain was telling me I was failing as a parent.
I realized that even with all my training and work on our relationship that I can't prevent experiencing the hard moments. Unfortunately, we can't escape the hard- it is part of our human experience. We can't control what we experience but we can control how we experience these moments - and that is what has changed. The difference now is that my incorrect thoughts are shorter and I don't let these moments define how I think of myself as the parent.
When my child exploded I quickly reminded myself that his explosion was not about me, it was about him -how he was feeling and his pain. He was feeling hurt and overwhelmed and was trying to inflict that on me and the rest of the family.
This awareness gave me the ability to remain calm and not mirror his emotions. The awareness allowed me space to not react but just to observe his reactions without feeling anger. The result was the bad moment didn't get escalated to a worst moment.
In all families, there will be hard moments. We are human beings that feel emotions. These emotions can cause us to not always react and say the right things. Making mistakes is part of being human.
If you don't have the right tools these hard moments can turn into some serious damage that will change relationships negatively. To be a healthy parent, it is essential that you learn how to manage your emotions when your child is having a hard moment.
I used to not be very good at the hard moments, so these moments were draining and made me feel dislike for parenting, my child, and myself-this caused some damage that took time to heal.
Now I know better so I do better. These hard moments still happen - but our family bounces back quickly, we are able to process it better, and very little damage is done to our relationships.
If you are feeling you are having more than your fair share of hard moments, I want you to realize that you are not the only family experiencing hard moments- that all good families have hard moments. I can't take away your hard moments but I can help you learn how to handle them better.
Here are some key things to do when those hard moments happen:
This is not about YOU: If your child is acting -well the nicest way I'll but this is-like a jerk - remember this has nothing to do with you. He/she is making the choice of how to react to life and if they are acting like a jerk they are usually hurting. We can't control our child's actions (unfortunately 😳), but we can control how we react to their reactions. How you react to their actions will either escalate or diffuse a hard moment.
Mirror, Mirror on the wall: We naturally mirror other's emotions and it takes training not to. When people are happy they infect others with that happiness but the same thing happens when people are miserable. When your child is being unpleasant, take a breath, and be ok with a moment of silence. Slow down the moment so you can consciously decide what to do and say. Pausing for a moment reminds your brain that it's not your job to match your child's emotions, you get to choose how to feel.
t's All About Timing: When the hard moments happen the first thing you need to do is to decide what is the best way to diffuse the situation. I have learned that sometimes not saying anything and removing myself is the best reaction. Of course, I want to immediately handle the problem but when I don't react immediately I get much better results. Rarely is communication effective when someone is having a hard moment. So at that moment of hard, usually the most effective communication is no communication.
Detective Mode: When you give your child (and yourself) time to calm down is when communication is most effective. I have found that every time one of my children is acting unpleasant they felt like they have a good reason. They weren't just being unpleasant because they thought it would be fun, they were usually reacting to a strong emotion that they were feeling and that emotion was caused by their thinking.
Our job is to find out what they are thinking and why. This takes an investment of time and patience to sit with your child and let them talk while you listen (remind yourself to listen more than you talk). This creates a safe place where your child can become vulnerable to you. In order for them to open up, it is essential they are not feeling your judgment. As the parent, you need to truly become curious about what is happening with your child to stay out of judgment. Don't start the conversation until you have processed your judgment of your child.
Spiritual Armor: I have found prayer to be one of my most effective tools for parenting. There have been many times where I didn't know the right words or actions and I needed comfort and peace that only the Lord could provide for my heart. Partnering with Him in these moments has made a big difference in my results with my relationship with my child.
With my recent hard moment with my child, I spent over an hour of prayer and reading my scriptures until I was able to find the peace that I needed to start the conversation. Then it was time for me to invest the time to sit and talk to my child. It took about 10 minutes of talking until I got the real answer for why he was in pain. Once I understood what he was thinking his actions made complete sense. This didn't excuse his bad behavior but it did give me compassion.
Once you can feel compassion for your child it is much easier to feel love. Parenting from love is parenting from your higher-self. From love, you can teach and make decisions that will help you and your child move forward and learn from the hard.
Learning these skills will help you find peace even in hard moments. It can be very difficult to step out of our reactionary cycles with our children. It can be difficult to stop the patterns that we are so used to doing. It takes some outside help to interrupt and change our patterns and retrain our thinking.
If you feel like you could benefit from some outside help, please reach out. I know the pain you are experiencing, it is the reason I become a certified coach, to help other families do it better and to feel less of the "hard."
Book a free consult with me and see if we are a good fit for you and your family. I would be honored to help you with your journey of becoming more connected to your LGBTQ child.