Category Archives: Parenting

Reaching for a book?

Part 1

This post lists some of the books I recommend to my clients and the ones that have remained my favorites through time. Having gone through a number of self-help books, I have experienced the hope and curiosity they trigger, the validation they offer and the discouragement that arises weeks or even days after we finish reading them. The books below withstood the test of time and produced a good wholesome effect on me. To keep this blog short, I have split the list in 2 parts and will offer only part 1 today:

The Examined Life by Stephen Grosz

Each chapter offers one story about one client of psychotherapist S. Grosz. The author takes us into the realm of the unconscious and its effects on our behavior. Gently holding your hand, he reveals the nature and impact of psychotherapy and delights you with an expected ending.

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

Do we change or do we not? This question still traverses the conversation around human psychology. Written in 2007, this book will convince non-believers that adaptive changes in our brains could be seen in brain scans, including changes resulting from psychotherapy. This is scientifically-informed captivating storytelling.

The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller

114 small-size pages will draw you into the complex and intense world of children as they relate to their parents. The innate need for survival as well as the inherent love for mom and dad lead to astonishing adaptive changes in the psyche. This applies to all of us, almost without exception. It is the human nature.

Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel

More than this book, I like E. Perel’s original video talks in which she explains “the secret of desire”. She caught the psychotherapists’ attention before she became a celebrity through her popular talks and interviews with the novelty of her ideas, direct and honest speech and a sense of humor.

Monogamy by Adam Phillips

Unconventionally-written and philosophical, this small book may not fit your taste but if it does, you will hang onto it. The ideas feel ahead of our time.

Which of the books you have read supported you and helped you make sustainable changes?

On Motherhood

Children are endearing to watch. They are funny. Cute. Delightful. Other people’s kids.

Three-year-old is Max playing in the sand. He dashes towards the road and looks back at his mother laughing. She sprints to catch him. Her face is tense. No trace of delight.

Charming smiles, tight hugs and sudden kisses, heartwarming love admissions. Squeals, loud cries. Expressions of misery and hate, grabs for the face and hair. A mix of pleasure, love and fear. Richness. Exhaustion. What was it like before – when she was just a child and not a mother? A distant memory she grasps on in brief off-duty moments.

Homework, backpacks, lunches, sports, play-dates, negotiations. Her eyes are no longer locked on her child. Her mind still follows him. The possibilities of future form, hopes of success and happiness…

She stands before the mirror and sees a woman who has nurtured, worried, and sat in the car for hours chauffeuring. Things are no longer the same. She heads toward her son’s room to remind him of something she has just remembered. A gentle knock. A loud yell in response, “Go away! Leave me alone! And you know what? I don’t like you.” She sits down. Waves of disbelief and rage sweep over her. Her knees feel weak. Her mind is empty. She stares in the dark space.

So, this is what it feels like to be a mother? Her soul aches. She is confused and grasps for answers. She tries to push back and revert the past. She wants to add control, to attack or even belittle just like her mother did to her. Or maybe she could just check out of motherhood?

She suffers yet she chooses to stay…close to her son’s experience. She feels theforce of growing up and changing. Her own self-hood is called to find answers, strengthen and expand. She must find a way to be that makes her happy.

Mother and son sit in the kitchen. Her son puts his arm around her shoulders. She looks up. Their eyes meet. He smiles so very innocently. “Sorry.”

Emotional Intelligence for Parents

Parenting is emotionally intense. Parenting teenagers is particularly hard. It could sweep the peace out of your home and throw you into a storm. Staying open to ideas when emotions run high is not easy. Part of your child’s job is to test your parenting fitness. If you are on your way to scold, lecture or insult your child marching to his/her door, you might want to turn around, take a walk or go to your room, and consider the following:

  1. What emotion am I experiencing?
  • If it is fear, what am I afraid of?
  • If I feel anger, what specifically angered me?
  • If I feel hurt, what specifically hurt me?
  • If it is something else, what exactly is the issue?

2. What other thoughts are coming to mind?

For example, if your child arrives from school with a low mark, you could think “He is going to end up like me. I think I was wrong to sign him up for this school. I failed him as a parent.” Or “I give her everything and she is not doing the one job that she has! Does she think it’s easy for me to work 50 hours a week. I hate this job…” You get it.

3. Could my emotions have anything to do with how my day has been going or how I have been feeling about myself recently?

An example would be when at work your team has failed to deliver what they promised today. You come home and find the tasks you gave your child are not done. You kept polite at work but you are enraged at your child for going against you, disrespecting you and ultimately trying to bring you down.

  1. Is my child demonstrating a repeated behavior? If so, have I set aside some time to think through what might be going on? Have I discussed it with my parenting partner?

For example, you have noticed that your daughter has started staying up late, her marks have dropped, and she is more abrasive with you than before. Fear overcomes you. Following Step 1, you have identified what you are afraid of. In Step 2, you have made connections to your past experiences and determined what your fear is based on. In Step 3, you have de-tangled the issue from your current emotional state. Now you can think more clearly about the problem, come up with some ideas of the reasons and potentially bring them up to your partner.

  1. Could I ask my child and how would I go about it?

In the case above, you could go straight to her and ask her to immediately revert her behavior, or you can sit down and talk to her. It would be of interest to understand when and why her behavior has changed, what is preoccupying her, and what she thinks about the change.

Finally, you may often get the steps wrong or skip them. Emotions often rule over our intelligent minds. However, when you are calm again and your thinking starts to clear, do tell your child that you have made a mistake. Admit that emotions took the best of you, and then talk to them. Keep trying and you will succeed.

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Thank you for reading,

Uliyana