Setting A Clear Path For Emotion

3 May

{This post is part of a recurring series of thoughts about building an emotional bridge to your children.}

Building a bridge in a blended family requires some actions that may seem extraordinary at the time, but in hindsight are simple, common sense practices that can be applied within the normal parent-child relationship. However, that said, it does require an unusual commitment to engage emotionally on a regular basis without prejudice or judgment. No judgment or bias sounds reasonable but it is surprisingly difficult. We quite naturally develop opinions (often very strong opinions) early on about our children. This is one of the ways in which we strive for understanding. This is usually okay except when we glue this opinion to our children, and in particular when they naturally begin to express themselves a little differently. When they do, we generally do not adjust the attachment to our fixed opinion quickly enough (or at all), precisely because it has become an attachment we choose not to release. Having the willingness to detach our opinion, judgment, or prejudice when we witness a different behavior is key to establishing a clear emotional path to our children.

Children are readily disassociating from our attachment- this is one of the ways in which they grow. If we don’t clear a path for them, then we become stuck in a connection that exists mostly in our mind, not theirs. Emotion by nature has a difficult time passing through the mind… especially the emotion of love; It prefers to pass through the heart. Emotion needs a clear path. It is our job to clear it, not our children’s job. My friend, who is building relationships in a blended family, is a beautiful father and like most of us he has unconditional love for all his children. For many reasons he hasn’t comprehended the enormous value of making a clear and specific emotional connection to his children, and although his heart is certainly pointed in the right direction it doesn’t quite hit the target. Kids need parents to aim better. As teenagers they are moving targets and we have to realize that to sharpen our skills early on.

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