Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Parenting: You're Their Safe Place

Good day, friends. I've got some valuable information here for you. I hope you'll take a few moments to read, and possibly share, if you think it will benefit others, as well.

This piece is the first part of a new series (possible multiple posts hopefully = a series) that I'm writing about parenting. What you are about to read is related to the really young ones. Children of grade school age, and younger. I'm not being age-specific because our children develop differently, only you can determine if I'm referring to your child when you read my words. But I remind you that there are many other aspects of parenting where parents - maybe one - maybe both - maybe other adults in our children's lives - represent the safe place for them. Stay with me and I'll be sharing more on those scenarios, too. Soon.

parenting, toddlers, motherhood, childhood, fathers, mothers, emotions, mental health, family, parenting frustrations

If you are a parent, this information is for you.

You may think you don't need it anymore, but trust me, someday you will again.

You'll think to yourself, oh, remember when Andrea said I'd need that reminder. What was she saying again? Oh, right. I'm their safe place. Right.

*nods enthusiastically*

When our children are young - like really tiny, but old enough to have their own little minds and voices - we often hear things like:

They're such angels. 

They were on their best behavior. 

They were a pleasure - I hope you'll bring them back again soon. 

And then you, mom, or you, dad, get home and find that those little angels?


You'll ask yourself a number of questions:

Where did my sweet baby go? 

What the heck is happening here?

But, but - the teacher/daycare provider/camp counselor/grown-up who just handed them back to me with a smile - JUST SAID HOW INCREDIBLY BEHAVED THEY WERE.


I'm here to tell you.

Your sweet child is still in there.

Still in that tiny body that is wailing loudly because you didn't let them play with their toys before they washed their hands.

Still in that loud screech you hear because they WANT THAT - whatever that may be.

Still in that flailing pint-sized person who is about ready to hurt themselves and ends up hurting you, instead.

I know. I know. You're thinking, Andrea, tell me something I don't already know.

Well. Maybe I will. And maybe you already DO know this, but needed to hear it from someone outside of your family home.

They do this because you're their safe place.

They're so overwhelmed. Exhausted. Cranky. Maybe happy, even. And they don't know what to do with all of these emotions. They are on overload. Sensory or otherwise. And they just can't decide to do anything but whatever they're doing.

Honestly. They really and truly cannot do anything else in that moment.

You know they don't mean it, right? The things they say. The punches they land.

Oh, the punches.

I've seen many a child, my own included, flailing so hard, lashing out at their mother or father and ultimately making contact - in a way that throws the grown-up so that tears spring to their eyes.

This isn't fun, y'all.

Not. One. Bit.

But the reason our children do this in our presence, in our homes, in our arms, even - is because we're their safe place.

We, their parents, offer them UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

And no matter how old they are, they know that.

They know that whatever they do, we will love them, we will be there for them, and we will take care of them, always.

And no, these little ones don't actually stop, think, truly process all of this.

They just KNOW.

So as much as you're struggling, feeling the pain (and I hear you, sister/brother/friend, I have SO been where you are), and wondering if your child will ever turn into a functional older child, teenager, or young adult?

You have done something RIGHT.

You have shown your child that you are their safe place.

They can be themselves with you.

They can show you what is rolling around inside of them.

You're the person who will always hold them close - even when they are so busy trying to figure out the rest of the world.

Remember. They're so so very little.

They see everything else as being so so very big.

But you. As big as you are?

You're their safe place.

* Andrea Bates, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of North Carolina. The information in this article is not to be used in place of working with a mental health provider. The information shared here is also not to be used as a way for you to assess your child, but as a reminder that our children are each quite complex, and often exhibit behaviors that upset and frustrate us, beyond their own understanding. Should you determine you need such support for yourself, as a parent, or for your child, to help meet their needs and want to find a mental health professional to assist you, consider checking Psychology Today to locate a provider in your area.

1 comment:

  1. It's hard sometimes, especially when they're in their 20s and hurt your heart. The love is still there.



Comments are like air to a writer.

So please - say something - help me BREATHE!