Questions from the audience… on Parenting.
Second in a four part series.
We had a wonderful time a few weeks ago as we conducted our How We Love as Parents seminar in Laguna Hills, California. The material that Kay and I presented is the subject of the book we are currently writing by the same title.
While our material is about how to parent, its unique emphasis is about how our love styles positively and negatively affect our parenting.
With too little time and too many unanswered questions, we made a commitment to the audience that our December newsletter would be devoted to answering as many unanswered questions as we could. So here goes!
How do you get an avoidant teenage girl to acknowledge painful feelings?”
I grew up in the 60’s where “sit ins” became a popular way to protest and get someone’s attention.
I have staged sit ins in each of my teenager’s rooms over the years and rarely does it fail to get a response. It goes like this. Knock, Knock, “Hey its dad, can I come into your room?” I then sit down; pretend I’ve got all the time in the world and say two things.
The first is, “You know, based upon your behavior, quietness or reactions, I can tell something is wrong inside. As your parent I care how you are and I want to know what’s going on.”
The second comment that quickly follows is the question, “What are you feeling right now?”
After that, I silently sit as long as is needed to give them time to think. Sometimes, I will say, “I’m not leaving until you share a feeling with me.” The key is to have an empathetic silence that respects the time it is taking them to formulate their feelings. No, I don’t bring in my guitar and sing We Shall Overcome; I wait patiently and always bring a soul word list found in our book How We Love on page 291.
Some of my sit ins have lasted a few hours, some, a few minutes. Kay and I usually come away with an answer and an opportunity then to connect and love our kids on a deep emotional level.
“For the teenage girl with the avoider dad… will it be uncomfortable for her dad to begin physical touch with her now that she is a sexual being?”
Yes. Avoiders are not usually as affectionate and touchy feely as other attachment styles. Additionally, sex is often compartmentalized in their minds in such a way that sex is non relational. They objectify the sexual partner. That is the sexual partner is viewed as an object or toy that is used for a while then put away until another time. The flip side of this that when an avoider male’s female child begins to look sexual during the teen years; it is hard for the avoider dad to not see her through sexual eyes.
It is critical that the avoider dad learn to connect with her emotionally, relationally, intellectually and spiritually but never comments with sexual overtones or innuendo. Hug her like you would a four year old and never sexualize the contact. At first, make sure mom is in the room and that he sees dad hugging mom as well in a non-sexual manner.
My two grown girls ages 33 and 22 are still comfortable hugging me and sitting close to me, and they still call me “Daddy”. That’s your goal.
“My daughter is a highly sensitive child and has a lot of hurts and wounds associated with her disappointment in her relationship with her dad. Her dad is trying to respond to this now and to take her out on dates etc., however, he has trouble getting in touch with his (or anyone else’s) emotions. My daughter’s comfort needs are still not being met, but my husband has no idea how to love her in this way even though he is trying. What can he do to connect with her?
The answers to the questions above will help in this situation as well. In addition, one on one dates with the daughter who still has “hurts and wounds” may be too close and too quick. This could actually shut your daughter down even further, because she / they may be uncomfortable and the pressure too intense for one on one dating.
Review The Comfort Circle in chapter 15 of our book How We Love (You can also find more resources on our website at: How We Love – The Comfort Circle).
Your husband’s goal is to spend many hours listening to your daughter’s heart, and it may be best if you do this as a threesome. If this is too hard, get into family counseling sessions and have a therapist teach you as well as get you through the rough spots at the beginning of the process.
If you were unable to attend our parenting workshop, look for an announcement in your e-mail inbox in a week or two. There, you can read all about it hear live testimonies and also be able to purchase the seminar.
Check out our newly designed new web site at www.howwelove.com.
See you next week.
Milan & Kay
Next weeks Parenting Questions Will Be:
- “Because of serious physical / spiritual abuse in my life (polygamous family situation …believe it or not) I have a hard time setting appropriate boundaries with my kids. I feel anxiety when there is a breach in my relationship with them. I will set very vigilant moral boundaries; however, I am also over protective in general. The loose boundaries are related to cleaning up after themselves and respecting me personally. I am very merciful toward them, but to the point of being an enabler as well. Also, when I set a boundary and receive a lot of flack because of it, I question myself which my kids sense and use to their advantage. My husband on the other hand is in my opinion overly aggressive with my kids and I then tend to shield them from him. How can I work through this personal weakness and become the parent they need and want?”