Saturday, April 7, 2012

Therapeutic Parenting or The Lack Thereof

A few days ago a friend wrote a blog post about therapeutic parenting, at scooping it up, that really had my head spinning. Please go read it while having an open mind of how this could possibly relate to someone with  chronic illness, then hear me out.

I commend and praise the Scooper and her husband for recognizing the need to parent ALL their children in a responsive manner rather the a reactive manner, while they admittedly stumble in this process, they are striving for it. Because as we children grow to become adults we learn how to deal with the world by how we were parented. Sure, we can "change" that pattern with a lot of work but it would be so much easier to learn from the beginning how to be responsive rather than reactive.

The three principles the Scooper lays out as she sees it is: disarming fear, teaching a person to feel love and to connect, and how to manage stress.

Let's start with disarming fear. I won't recreate the wheel so if you have read the post then you understand how trauma, loss, grief, etc begins the cycle of fear. Well, wouldn't a chronic illness like CF begin the cycle of fear? The fear of each time you start feel slightly ill will land you in the doctors office or worse in the hospital or even death. The fear of what each test result means for your future. What about the fear you sense from your parents or caregivers as a child or teen when they are given news about your health? This can all stimulate fear driven reactions. Now, not all people with chronic illness or great trauma have this experience but I would wager a lot do, maybe they know it or not. But stop and think about some things you have done, were they driven by security and love or fear? I can tell you from experience that things I did and still do are driven by the fear that resides deep down.

Example: I wrote a post about love thru my diseased teenage eyes, the "love" that I felt I needed/wanted and was willing to subject myself to was not driven by the feeling of security but rather from fear of not living long enough or even being of value to experience true authentic love. I struggled to connect in a healthy way.

Moving on to teaching a person to feel love and to connect. For me there is so much behind feeling love. The basics start from how my parents showed love; positive affirmations were scarce while negative affirmations were constant in our home. Looking back I know why. We were parented by fear (which is based on how my parents were parented and how their parents were parented, so on and so forth: chain reaction that was never corrected or attended to). My parents divorced early in my childhood and for the most part they didn't get along {insert more trauma}. Therefore, how they outwardly showed love was thru fighting over us, step-parents not wanting bio-parent to have direct access to us, etc. What does this pattern show a "normal" child let alone a "traumatized" child? Then, heaven forbid a bio-parent dies, which in my case happened. So, now we're adding more trauma onto an already traumatized child, I do want to be clear that the death of said parent is no ones fault, but trauma nonetheless. My personal story involves adding one traumatic issue and/or experience after another while adding little to the healing process. This I believe was a direct result in my inability to connect with men and women appropriately. I had a hard time developing friendships with women and sought in appropriate relationships with men.

Are you still with me? Hang on just a bit longer.......

The last is how to manage stress. This I have failed at. Completely and utterly failed. With all the aforementioned, how could I rationally deal with stress. I have no idea how to coup. NONE. I lashed out, I tried to commit suicide at the age of 16, I wanted to lay down and die. The level of stress in each person's life is difficult to measure as we all have it. We all have developed ways of dealing with it. Some people are extremely wise and understand how to manage in a constructive way, while others have parents like the Scooper and her husband who recognize the need to parent in a way that addresses, supports and teaches how to disarm fear, how to feel love, how to connect positively and how to manage stress, however many like myself have so many layers that our vision is clouded. We so desperately want to be able to have composure, to be constructive, to come out on the other end whole, but can't or haven't learned how to.

Managing stress is something I still am working on building a foundation for, because in order to have a solid foundation, I have to learn to disarm fear and feel love and connect to others first. This is something I have been working on for roughly 10 years, it takes a long time to reverse and relearn.

So, while her post was about parenting, I read it thru my eyes, my experience with trauma, my struggles with fear, love, and stress. I read it from a stand point of if B and I have children, how am I going to be able to teach them what I wasn't taught or rather how do I teach something I am still in the infancy stages of learning?

Such a thought provoking topic.


1 comment:

  1. Kari, this is so beautiful. So profound to see these things in terms of ourselves. You are breaking the cycle. You are amazing.