Children are not pets

Pets Corner, photo by Hazel Moore, United Kingdom, appropriate loveThe love we feel for our children needs to be different from the love we feel for our pets, because children are not pets. When we want to hold our children non stop we teach them to be clingy and they get serious abandonment issues. This slows the child’s ability to develop good ego boundaries and affects their relationships later on in life. When I see that type of behaviour I, as a family therapist, suggest that the parent(s) get a pet in order to balance out their need to cling onto their child. Pets thrive on cooing and playful love, and humans benefit from showing them that. Children thrive on appropriate parental love and parents benefit from having their children develop healthily.

Zelma was totally focused on her disabled daughter Elli
and took great pride that she was a loving mother but
hadn’t noticed that she was treating Elli like a pet
hugging her, cooing to her and using baby talk
even until she was an adult and
didn’t see how it annoyed Elli
then one day Zelma became embarrassed
when her daughter barked at her!
so she got a dog and a cat so that
they could coo over them and kept
appropriate love for her daughter which
made a huge difference to Elli’s development

Pets Corner, photo by Hazel Moore, United Kingdom, appropriate love

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Children need love, so parents chill out

Anger, photo by Ivar van Bussel, Groningen, Netherlands, abusive tantrumsFathers and mothers, with small children, are usually at a Life Stage when stresses affect their behaviour, making them intolerant. It’s vital that we don’t psychologise abusive behaviour exhibited by stressed parents. In other words, avoid excusing abusive actions just because parents are stressed – there’s no excuse good enough for abuse. So parents, remember that although you’re having a hard time, when you over-react about your children’s mistakes this negatively impacts on their self-esteem. Also your behaviour is seen as inappropriate and abusive by children and everyone around too! What’s more if the ‘punishment is too severe then the lesson is lost’. When you’re finding it difficult to keep your cool, then maybe you need to see a therapist so that you can let off steam before it becomes abusive for everyone concerned. Children need love to grow healthily, not fear. Childrearing specialists claim that prisoners didn’t get there from too much parental love as children.

she was almost hysterical as she told me
how her family was driving her crazy
her husband was in the same state!
you may say “no wonder” when they
are in stressful jobs and trying to
make a decent lifestyle for their family!
then as the story unfolded they realised that
their lives had become unmanageable due to
hard work, lots of bills and not enough rest
everything had become so serious and
children have no way of knowing how
to deal with their parents’ stress, therefore,
they chose to do things as a family that
would bring them fun and relaxation
as well as putting their home in order
instead of just excusing the dysfunctionality

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Belonging to your community

Figures earth, photo by Sanja Gjenero, Zagreb, Croatia, community activitiesA natural need of a human being is to belong to another and to a community. Belonging to your community is far more important than people realise. Without that we can be tempted into isolation. The community can be your family and friends sharing similar interests, or your church group, or your self help group. Some of the those interests can be doing voluntary work for charitable and benevolent projects, or hobbies and sports. The learning community is another powerful area involvement. Even if your community is not a church group, belonging to a community is another form of spirituality.

how wonderful a project to see schools promoting
a marathon walk or something similar where the students
collect sponsor signatures to raise money for a charity
the excitement experienced by
the participant and the supporters
with the outcome of raising funds
or other donations which benefit
people, animals or the environment
ultimately the process rippling out globally
such a simple beginning with a profound ending
which can be duplicated over and over everywhere

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Role models

Dad's Shoulder, photo by Joseph Zlomek, Pottstown, United States, loving parentSome people have had abusive parents as role models. Others have had one parent functional and the other dysfunctional. Unfortunately, there are those who have been abused and become abusers, mainly because they experienced how powerful induced fear was. The promising thing is that as we grow most of us learn to appreciate the healthy role models and mimic them in adulthood.

Nina was surprised that her mother’s abusive behaviour
hadn’t made her an emotional cripple, but remembered
that her father was a gentle, loving parent and
whenever she was tempted by her mother’s words
to believe that she was ugly and worthless
Nina would recall her father’s unconditional love
which gave her the confidence to make healthy choices
at times it took a lot of work to raise her self esteem
because her mother’s words would creep into
Nina’s thoughts unexpectedly, however
that was short lived as she developed the skills
to diffuse such thoughts by sending them
off into the universe in imaginary balloons

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

2 sleeps to go

Christmas, photo by Bartek Zielinski, Glowno, Poland, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/678266, Christmas DayChildren’s favourite words today are “2 sleeps to go” and with that we realise the thrill that goes with the anticipation of Santa’s visit which results in more presents for them to open at Christmas. Life at this time of the year is quite joyful with people busily celebrating the festive season by partying, and shopping for gifts to exchange, regardless of their religion or their socio-economic position. Also around this time of the year, charitable and benevolent organisations increase their activities to raise money for those people in need of financial and emotional support. The spirit of giving such support increases this joyful atmosphere. Watching the joy on children’s faces is another huge reward.

my youngest grandchild left me with the instructions that
I need to remember Santa is bringing me a present only…
if I am nice!
considering she is not quite 4 years old this means I am
going through a huge refresher in humility as I
agree to follow her instructions
nevertheless the confidence she shows in
giving me these instructions gives me
several ‘warm and fuzzies’ which hook in
my inner child and memories of my infancy
with the joy of the festive season and the gifts

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Codependence and pets

My dogs 1, photo by Debbie Miller, Monroe United  States,  love a petWhen we want to live functional lives, a solution is to get a pet. A codependent flips between manipulation, attempts at controlling, and becoming an enabler causing the victim to remain dependent. Codependence and pets means that the need to overwhelm someone with love is then directed to a creature who thrives on such devotion. So the behaviour is diverted to a healthier end. When a mother wishes to avoid being over-protective towards her growing children, I as a therapist recommend that they get a pet. This way the pet will not suffer from too much affection and it will keep her busy looking after and training the pet.

my children were 11 and 12
it was time to let go in order to avoid
too much mothering, or so I thought
so I got a German Shepherd called Kara
who at 6 months couldn’t even walk,
due to an overwhelming fear,
so I taught her to walk and I
loved her and called her my baby
she just bloomed and so did
my kids who were learning
how to be confident and independent
childrearing was a success thanks to
Kara, who I still miss a lot
but now that I’m alone I have a cat, Midnight,
who’s my baby to coo over
much to my adult children’s relief
no doubt!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Touch to stay alive

Danny and Me, photo by Joe DeCarlo, Sparksville, United States,  love therapyWithout touch babies have been known to die, that’s why attachment in the early years of childhood is so important. We need touch to stay alive. To touch and be touched is the necessity of life. That’s why one of the methods of torture or punishment has been isolation, it can make a person go crazy. It is important to teach children from a young age that sulking (withdrawal) is counter-productive to having their needs and wants met. Communicating what they are feeling is vital to their own wellbeing and future relationship development.

they argued constantly
from early morning and then
when he came home from work
late into the night
sometimes they wouldn’t talk for days
sulking so badly that you could
cut the air with a knife, so to speak
I often wondered how they managed
to get through the day in such an
atmosphere of bitterness and misery
with no touching
then after 13 years they divorced
and took their dysfunctional behaviour
to their new separate relationships
which did not last long either
we need touch to stay alive
in more ways than one

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Unresolved grief issues

“I am wondering how much the loss of a parent contributes to a new, hopeful, but tentative relationship becoming dysfunctional and morphing into a love addiction.”

Holding hands, photo by Laura Kennedy, Johannesburg, South Africa, lost loveLetitia made this comment when I wrote about the loss of a parent and my response is that awareness is 50% of the solution to a problem. So if we are aware of our unresolved grief issues then we can avoid letting them contaminate our relationships and turning them into dysfunctionality and/or love addiction. With unresolved grief issues it is difficult to avoid loving someone who subconsciously reminds us of our parents, whether it’s a loving parent or a punishing parent. This is, mainly because we search to find either a replacement for the loving parent whom we miss, or the punishing parent whose approval we seek. That is why grief counselling is vital, so that we stand a better chance of developing healthy loving relationships.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail