Finding Joy in Your Children
Finding Joy in Your Children
by Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
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 behavior. We can turn our
children, and they us, into villains.
When mired in conflict or parenting challenges, some parents reasonably turn to
counseling. They look for strategies to manage their children’s behavior. They
seek better forms of behavioral 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 behavior and discipline can give rise to ongoing bad feelings
between parents and children. Resentment can continue to build on both sides.
Focusing only on behavior 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 behavior rather than
relying upon control and enforcement.
Reflecting on joy, one parent writes:
● It somehow brought their preciousness back to life for me and I realized that
there are definitely times that it’s difficult to appreciate or feel loving
towards our children until we revisit the times it was so easy to love them.
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:
● Catch them doing something right.
● Watch your children when they are asleep.
● Remind your children of the pleasure and pride you take in them.
Reflecting on the outcome of using joy on her now adult children another parent
● Having 3 very headstrong boys, when they were teens, I used to go into their
bedrooms after they were asleep and just look at them and remember when they
were babes curled up in their cribs. I also thought of times when they gave me
laughter and tears of pride. I knew down deep that they would grow into
responsible adults who not only would be my sons, but my friends. That got me
through some rough times – did not resolve conflict, but did give me a better
perspective and some patience the next day.
Mired in challenges or conflict with your children? Then think about finding joy
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