Finding Joy in Your Children
Ever get caught up in challenges or conflict raising your kids? Not uncommon.
The sad truth is though, that when mired in conflict we can lose sight of happier, better times and lose not only our own spirit but also the spirit of the relationship. When mired in conflict we can lose sight of our mutual love and escalate bad feelings, not to mention bad behaviour. We can turn our children, and they us, into villains.
When mired in conflict or parenting challenges, some parents reasonably turn to counselling. They look for strategies to manage their children’s behaviour. They seek better forms of behavioural control or discipline. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as children do need to learn limits and internalize rules. However, a focus just on behaviour and discipline can give rise to ongoing bad feelings between parents and children. Resentment can continue to build on both sides. Focussing only on behaviour leaves out a vital ingredient for parents and children to both feel great about themselves and the relationship. It may sound corny, but that ingredient is joy .
Finding and expressing joy in children tells them they are of value. As children feel and experience their parents finding joy in them, spirits lighten and bad feelings can fade. Rather than being mired in challenges and conflict, attention is directed to good times, good feelings and cooperation. Parents and children experience a different kind of emotional energy; one through which they can return to talking and discussion as a means of mediating behaviour rather than relying upon control and enforcement.
Reflecting on joy , one parent writes:
The challenge in using joy as a means to rekindling parent-child relationships and better feelings is that some parents may have forgotten how or where to find joy. A survey of parents involved in early childhood education, social work and family therapy provides the following suggestions for finding joy in children:
Reflecting on the outcome of using joy on her now adult children another parent writes:
Mired in challenges or conflict with your children? Then think about finding joy in them.
Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert on child development, parent-child relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations and social work.