Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Somebody Stop Me

The child whose home fails to give a feeling of security looks outside his home for the four walls
~ Donald Winnicott; Child

Extreme times call for extreme measures. That is why adolescents display the so-called impulsive behavior typical of borderline pathology: anorexia, self-cutting, alcoholism or other addictions, tantrums, suicide threats or attempts. On the edge of separation and independence, facing into the possibility of non-existence (picture the fledgling on the edge of the nest facing into the vast expanse of blue), she wants to jump yet with her behavior cries out somebody stop me!

Instead of jumping, she creates the limit she cannot feel by drawing blood, stopping menses, arresting the ebb and flow of normal expectations. This is not wanting to die. On the contrary. This is raging against non-being in it most virile form. Isn't it the same when you drop a penny to the bottom of a well and listen for the sound, or call across a canyon and wait for the echo? You seek assurance in the answer, the mirror, the edge, that calls back to you I am.

When your child by his or her behavior cries out “stop me!”, be the answer that contains, the arms that hold and soothe, that voice that coos lovingly back “I am here, and you are too”.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Freedom to reject is the only freedom
~ Salman Rushdie; The Ground Beneath Her Feet

As a parent, one of the hardest things to do is embrace your child's autonomy, especially when it means accepting things that you may disagree with. It is hard to let a child assert her independence, harder still when you think she is making foolish choices. Every bone in your body wants to protect your child. But this has to be tempered with allowing your child to make mistakes.

Unless the consequences are life-threatening, mistakes are precious learning opportunities and your child should be allowed to experience them. Your child needs to test her strength and find out what her limits are*. If you interfere with this natural process, your child may be forced to go underground to assert herself (rebellion). Worse, you may quash her will, becoming her inner compass and she may end up quite lost in a world that feels hostile and alien without you (anxiety).

Sometimes what is called for is non-action, calm abiding, just standing by your child and showing her you have faith in her ability to overcome adversity.

*Oppositional behaviour begins during the terrible twos, when your toddler says NO to everything, whether it is good or bad for her. It subsides a bit during the latter years of childhood but then rears its head again, quite violently at times, during adolescence. It is a normal part of becoming independent.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eros seizes and shakes my very soul like the wind on the mountains shaking ancient oaks
~ Sappho

We are constantly bombarded by an endless stream of information and opinions. Ads stare at us from every direction, clamouring for our attention and telling us what to wear, what to eat, where to go and how to get there. Our calendars are dictated by social conventions and obligations whose importance we don't even remember. But we have no time to question them. The pace of our days is so fast that, before we know it, the poetry has been sucked from our lives.

Ask your children to spend some time with you doing nothing. Go for a walk with them, take them for a drive, or just hang out with them in the living room with the TV off.

Ask your spouse to sit facing you and just hold hands. Gaze at each other and see what happens.

Eros. Love. Desire. Life. Whatever you want to call it. It is why you are here. Make room for it and watch it shake things up.