Slaying the Monsters in Your Child’s Life
Every day our children battle dragons and other mythical monsters. Boggarts, shape-shifters that assume the form of a child’s greatest fears and insecurities, dance in your children’s minds. They tower over your children, taking the form of personal failure, overwhelming schedules, rejecting peers, family instability, financial woes, or even death of a friend. Boggarts appear larger than life. They leave a child feeling inadequate and unable to deal with the towering fear that has taken shape in his or her mind.
Your child may also battle the giant bully monster. This giant monster towers over a child with bulging muscles, red anger-filled eyes, a forked tongue of ridicule and threats, and fists that can pulverize your child’s personal strength. Your child may encounter the giant bully monster in the community, in school, or on-line. This monster threatens your child’s confidence and can send them reeling into the legendary pit of emotional darkness, depression, and despair.
The most frightening monster of all may live right in your own home. That’s right…the two-headed-fighting-parents-monster can appear right in your living room and wreak havoc in your family’s castle. Although connected to the same body, the two heads of this monster agree on nothing. They constantly fight, call one another names, and verbally abuse each other. Because this monster resides in the home, it creates an atmosphere of insecurity for your child. As long as the two heads continue to yell, scream, and argue, your child will never feel safe. In addition, their loyalty to both heads will tear them apart, potentially leaving their heart torn to shreds.
Parents can help children slay these monsters. They serve as the protector and provider, the knight in shining armor rescuing their children from these monsters…even as they attack. How do we slay the monsters in our children’s lives? Here are three strategies that other parent-knights have found effective.
· Remain present in your children’s lives. Stand with them…be physically, verbally, and emotionally present in their lives. Let them see you in the community, in the school, and in the home. Make your presence known to them in their technology. Text them. Email them. Call them. Friend them on Facebook. Establish a precedent from the very beginning that you, as a parent, have access to their Facebook, phone, and any other technological device so you can monitor what happens there. Assure them that you monitor these devices for their protection. Even offer examples of people who have encountered the giant bully monster and boggarts on-line. You are there to protect them from those monsters, even on-line. Let your children know they do not have to face any monster in their life alone. You are always ready to help!
· Tame the two-headed-fighting-parents monster. Work with your spouse (the other head) to resolve arguments as they arise. Let your children witness the resolution in your spoken apologies and affectionate interactions with one another. If your children witnessed the two-headed-fighting-parents monster at its worst, you might even explain to them how you resolved the argument and assure them that you love each other. Children grow best when they know their parents have a stable, loving relationship. Allow them to witness your love for one another in how you speak to, touch, and support one another. If you experience significant trouble taming the two-headed-fighting-parents monster, seek counseling. Don’t wait until both heads are beaten and abused. By that time, your child is feeling the devastation of the battle. Get help. Learn how to resolve your differences and tame the two-headed-fighting-parents monster.
· Spend time talking with your children so you can learn about the boggarts they live with, the fears and insecurities that take shape in their mind. Be open to hear about these fears. Listen closely to understand the fear. Accept that this fear is a real concern for your child, not just some childish fantasy they’ll get over. Acknowledge the bravery they exhibit in facing their fears. Encourage them by helping them recall other times they have successfully overcome fears. And, problem-solve with them. This may include planning ahead, breaking the boggart into smaller parts and tackling one issue at a time, identifying more resources, or any number of other solutions. By listening, acknowledging, encouraging, and problem-solving, you teach your child the skills necessary to slay any boggarts that arise in their life.
As you help slay the monsters in your children’s lives, they will be able to rest and relax in your home. They will rest in the assurance that you, their protector and provider, have made their home a safe haven in which they can find peace.