1. My post about meeting Attachment Parenting International‘s founders Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker is live on API Speaks. If you didn’t get a chance to read it and see photos the first time around, click here for more.
2. I’ve been reading Stacy’s blog, Mama Om, for quite some time now. Every time I stop by and read what she and her boys are up to, I am inspired. She shares her parenting wisdom, challenging moments, and practical tips for peaceful communication. When I read Stacy’s post called “Taking It In,” I was reminded of Imago therapy in which “[d]ialogue consists of Mirroring (repeating) each statement, Summarization, Validation (“That makes sense because …”) and Empathy (“I imagine that makes you feel …”). This enables each partner [or dialogue participant] to extend themselves to understand the experience of the other as different from their own. If you can work with an Imago therapist, he or she will help to deepen that dialog.”
Lately, I’ve been feeling a disconnect with Annabelle. I’m not sure whether it is because of the changes she is experiencing physically (and hormonally), because she is still working her baby brother into her reality, she is discovering friendships and rejection, and she is transitioning out of the school year and into summertime. It could be any, all, or some other unknown cause for “what is” between the two of us . . . it is part of the reason I schedule time to take her on “mommy dates” or I spend a half hour to an hour cuddling and nursing her at night. In part, I think I need for there to be a good, an awesome, a loving connection between my daughter and me . . . it is hard for me, her mama and once upon a time her everyday playmate, to think that there could be a riff.
When I read Stacy’s post though, I thought about how I communicate with her . . . I thought about how our day to day lives have changed, how we are always moving and how she is not seeing her mama as much as she used to . . . I also thought about the way she talks to me and the way I talk to her.
So I decided to give Imago a try. I decided that when Annabelle is telling me something at the top of her lungs that I would slowly and quietly repeat back to her what she was saying to me. This happened this morning. I was talking to my friend Rebecca over our car’s bluetooth connection. Rebecca and I were making plans to bring our kids to an indoor playground since it was raining outside. I said, “Oh no! I forgot socks! Do you think you could bring a pair of socks for me and for Annabelle?” I knew Levi wouldn’t need socks since he isn’t old enough yet to play in the “sock zone.”
Meanwhile, in the backseat, Annabelle was telling me, with all her might, “NO! NO! I DON’T WANT SOCKS!”
I politely got off the phone with Rebecca. Then I turned to look at Annabelle and I made eye contact with her. I said, “You don’t want socks.”
“No,” she a little more quietly. ”It’s not cold out and I don’t want socks.”
“Okay. It’s not cold so you don’t want socks.”
“No,” she said a little more emphatically.
So I tried to explain a bit about the sock rule. I said, “Did you know that the playground has a rule? The playground has a rule that everyone needs to wear socks.” This is true. In the past, I’ve had to purchase socks from this indoor play area so that Annabelle and I could enter the playground.
In the last year, between age 3 and on her way to 4, Annabelle has become so articulate. She looked at me, raised her eyebrows and said, “But Mama, why do we have to wear socks? Why is it a rule?”
“It’s a rule because the playground wants people to protect their feet from germs. They want to protect your feet and other kids feet and other mommies and daddies feet from spreading germs. Does that make sense?”
She nodded. A little while later when we met up with our friends, Annabelle put on her socks.
Now, I have to tell you that the Imago approach helped me slow down and “hear” my daughter. It helped me hear what was behind her “No!” About an hour later though, she melted down and we decided that we ought to head home. In the car, without prompting, she said to me, “I’m feeling kinda grumpy this morning Mama.” We then talked about how she had woke up earlier than she usually does and how she hadn’t eaten enough . . . anyone would feel irritable if they hadn’t slept or eaten enough, right? At home, I gave her a bowl of cold whole wheat pasta, a favorite lunch of hers, and a few minutes later she was giggling and playing with her brother.
So I walk away from these situations with more to reflect on; I am going to keep working the Imago approach into our communication patterns and I am going to pay more attention to my little girl’s physical needs. I’m already feeling more connected to her . . . and it was just one change on one day.