Welcome to the last installment in our blog series!
It is my hope that you have become more aware of the challenges that your child will face as they navigate our world. A Mother Bear that is AWAKE is a powerful thing. Your awareness is so key.
Today I'd like to talk about something beautiful AND vitally important and that is CONNECTION.
As I have walked down this road of educating myself in this realm of p*rnography prevention and such, one line kept coming up: "Connection is the antidote to addiction."
I wasn't sure how I felt about that line. It made it seem like if I wasn't connecting with my child, they would automatically become an addict. And I didn't like that notion. I knew, in my heart of heart, that I was just one mom doing the best that I could. I knew I couldn't be all things for all people.
So I didn't like that "ideal" that it was all up to me. What I have learned is that it's more about creating a CULTURE that is warm and inviting. It's about me becoming a better person, a "safe place for my children to land" type of person. And that means I have had to change and get better, softer, more open and authentic with my kids.
(Parenting is the best self improvement program out there!)
So I want to be clear: this isn't about being a "perfect parent" and totally "on" 100% of the time. It's more about creating a powerful relationship of connection.
Think about a relationship that you have where you are seen and loved by another person. There is a warmth there. Addictions cannot get in where you are in that place of security. So now I get that phrase. When we are in deep relationships that truly connect us, something powerful is at play, keeping addictions from developing (or being needed, if you think about it).
This relationship of unconditional love can also come from Christ. You'll love this story; I recently asked a woman to share her conversion story with me. She was such a strong Christian and I wanted to know what had occurred in her life to create that.
She told me that she was raised in a nominal Catholic family, they went to church on Sunday but didn't bring God into any aspect of their lives other than that.
Her brother, who was a wild thing, went to college, he had a huge conversion experience and she was intrigued. She wanted the same thing.
She said she had an experience while in Adoration (at Benedictine College) where she felt the Gaze of God.
She knew she was fully known and fully seen.
It wasn't about her behavior, it was about something else entirely, which was His love for her. And that understanding caused her life to explode with that new kind of something.
That's what connection does.
I love that so much. We just want to be seen. That's what our kids want, too. Seems pretty easy, right? Well, here's the deal: even if our hearts are in the right place, sometimes we don't see what our children really need from us.
I've discussed beliefs in this blog series and how they can blind us to the reality of what's really going on.
Beliefs are how we operate in this world; we formulate assumptions based on what we see, feel and experience. For example, you might think to yourself that your son doesn't like to have deep conversations. Or that your daughter doesn't want to spend time with you. Or maybe you think to yourself that since YOUR PARENTS never spoke to you on a deeper level, then you cannot do it, either.
Can you see how our beliefs can hold us back? They can be quite damaging. The good news is that when you shine a light on your distorted beliefs, they actually become something quite different.
So let me share with you how a belief I had about one of my children caused damage in his heart, disconnecting us (without my awareness).
Okay. So, as probably already know if you've been with me for awhile, I have eight children and yes, they are all pretty loud and crazy like their mother. However, Matthew is the one child that is truly like his dad.
See, my husband Russ is an interesting mix. He is an engineer, and is wired with LOGICAL THINKING, yet he also has a great personality and likes being around others. Believe me, it's a great combination. Matthew has the same traits.
Russ likes his family. However, his threshold for Crazy is lower than mine.
When Russ gets overwhelmed with the chaos and noise in our home, you can usually find him in the garage, taking a little break to decompress and find some quiet.
I noticed Matthew doing the same thing in his life; when he got overwhelmed by our family, he would just pull back and be by himself.
As he did that, over and over, I clearly formulated a belief: Matthew needs the quiet. He is a kid that needs (wants) to be by himself.
I believed that was a healthy thing. I didn't find out until later, much later, that in actuality, Matthew wanted to be found.
"We come into the world looking for someone looking for us." ~Dr. Adam Young.
Matthew came into the world looking for someone looking for him. He wanted his parents to find him. He wanted us to sit by him.
And I totally missed that boat.
I am sharing this with you because WOWSA, that taught me to ignore surface beliefs and realize we all want connection.
Another reason why I am sharing this: Matthew has had addictive tendencies in his life and I wouldn't draw a straight line from his challenges and our lack of connecting with him, but it absolutely contributed.
The Good News: it's never too late! Once I realized the damage that my inattentiveness caused, I've been able to acknowledge his hurt and apologize for not seeing his needs.
And the best thing is how, when we address the hurt, it can be healed. And a beautiful bridge is formed from his heart to ours. I love that.
I now know that my son wants to hang out at times. Yes, at age 21. He still wants to be found.
I encourage you to look at your own family. Look at your beliefs regarding your kids, especially if you have formulated some specific thoughts around a child or two, such as:
I assure you, they need you. They want to talk. In essence, they want to be seen, known, loved. They want to be found.
Connection IS the antidote to addiction! And that's the cool thing about being a parent! We can have those connections!
It's about becoming aware of the needs in your family and how to formulate a home that works for everyone in it, parenting your children "below the line," being intensely glad they are alive and in your life, creating that atmosphere of "give and take" in love.
That connection is just beautiful! Now, some of you know exactly how to do that. For those of you that want more assistance, I created"The Parenting Dare 2.0 Proactive."
THANK YOU FOR WALKING WITH ME IN THIS MINISTRY OF BUILDING STRONG FAMILIES! I love the "dare" of it all. It's not easy to go into all these places with your kids, but look at the positive impact you make when you do. It's quite gorgeous.
I believe in us as parents!
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