Parents of APSGO are now facing the BIG QUESTION: Are the skills we learn in our parent groups capable of standing up under the greatest test which any generation of parents is likely to encounter. Do the skills and principles we learn in our groups work, or do they even matter when survival is in question?
The real question is, when have these lessons been more necessary? If we have changed our parenting habits since coming to APSGO, then it’s just as important that we don’t revert to old habits when the chips are down. Credibility is enduring and can stand the test of time and circumstance. Control is counterfeit.
This time of international emergency is unprecedented for all of us. It would be tempting to revert to old bad habits from fear and to make rules which would be impossible to enforce. So, what can we do? We can do exactly what we have done in our groups, we can examine our own behaviour.Here are some hints to get you started. Ask yourself:· How do we want things to be?· What would that give us?· What can we control?· How can we substitute judgement for emotion?· Do we want our relationship with our child to improve, stay the same or get worse?
As members of APSGO, we are uniquely positioned to be able to come through this time more confident, stronger and wiser. Especially if we apply the principles of APSGO to all our relationships. Here are some of the principles I have taught over the years.
- The solution is never in the problem. The solution is always in the relationship.
- Because rules can’t be enforced, they are the last refuge of the impotent.
- Credibility trumps authority.
This is a difficult time for parents to give and get support. Different APSGO groups are using different ways to do this and hopefully this lockdown situation will soon end. We are investigating ways to help. In the meantime, you can email me (Helen Jones) c/o APSGO with parenting issues, and I will reply with suggestions. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you still need to check how much control you had over your child, remember trying to feed them broccoli or something they were determined not to eat.
If you’re afraid to let go, remember how excited you were when they took their first steps. Did you try to discourage them? I believe you urged them on, no matter how many times they fell.
Most parents come to APSGO believing that they have lost control of their children. In fact, they never had control. Young children have few options, they do what parents tell them to do (most of the time!). Parents take from that, that they are in control. When children are old enough and realize, they have more options, they start to exercise this newly recognized power. Parents panic and believe they have lost control. In fact, they never had any control, but the belief that they did once have control is so deeply engrained, that in times of danger, parents are likely to revert to old habits which may have been useless, but in scary times they’re familiar and comforting.
It’s even more important to accept that we never truly had control for another reason. If we want our children to know that we have changed, then it’s just as important that they know that we don’t revert to old habits when the chips are down. Our credibility is more important than control.
- Deal in facts, not feelings.
- Vocabulary changes mindset so use words like ‘challenges’ rather than words like ‘problems’.
- Focus on the present rather than trying to manage the future.
- Forget the rules. They aren’t the solution to the problem. In any case, they can’t be enforced.
- Involve your son or daughter in the plan. Get them to do the thinking. Their brains are younger and more creative.
- Set out the areas where you might need help. Post it or text it to family and let them choose what they can do.
- Ask for input.
- Be flexible. The best thing your son or daughter can do might mean staying away.
- Demonstrate commitment by keeping to the guidelines for contact and hygiene.
- Keep your sense of humor. There are countless stories and cartoons making the rounds. Collect your favorites and forward them.
Using these ideas can change this whole event for you and your family. Things will likely never be quite the same for any of us and we should make the most of it.
Children Out of the Home During the Pandemic
Is this a situation any of us could have imagined? Parents are naturally conflicted, being fearful for their child’s safety while out of their home and fearful in case they ask to come home. Given that these young people have been in contact with so many other people, these fears are justified. Especially since these other people aren’t likely to care about health advisories.
If you are in contact with your child, keep it low key. No lectures about distance and hand washing. Express confidence and keep it brief.· “I know you know the guidelines to protect yourself so keep in touch. I love you.”
What if they ask to come home? Are you prepared to refuse them? Most parents would find this difficult to do. Set down the circumstances.
- “We’ve been sticking to the guidelines regarding staying home and no visitors. Can you see yourself doing that? It would mean your friends can’t visit.”
- If you have a vulnerable person at home, you may have to refuse unless you can isolate that person in your home. Invite input. eg: “We can’t take chances with Grandad. If you come home, can you think of a way to protect him?”
- If you haven’t handled this time as well as you would have wanted, the good news is you can redo it. “I’ve been thinking about what you said. Can we talk some more?”
Ultimately the decisions are yours but how you present them will make the difference in the long term and it is the long term which matters. This unlikeliest of situations will end eventually but who knows if things will ever be the same as they were pre-pandemic. Sound confident always. Give choice when you can. Consider their suggestions.
by Helen Jones, Founder of APSGO, April 2020 ENews