Monday, January 23, 2012

The observer

I hope to show this to my daughter Evelyn when she is all grown up. Last night she fell asleep with me in my bed and unfortunately when we went to move her to hers she woke up and decided that she much prefers sleeping in our bed. Two hours later we still had not managed to get her to go back to sleep in her bed.

Now I've seen you desperate parents out there on Facebook and I know there is no easy answer to this dilemma. We discussed it with Pierre and our decision is that we want her to spend at least the first part of the night in her bed. So once the decision is made there is no turning back because I can see the writing on the wall with this child and she has a will of her own. Yesterday she clearly decided that she was going to sleep in our bed.

My job is to love and protect and guide this child and I can't do that if I always do as she asks because it's the easy path to take. My dilemma is that this could turn into a power struggle between us and I am hoping to minimize the occurrence of such a nasty interaction.

There are so many emotions and needs at play when going through such a tough situation (hers, mine and Pierre's) and I was really glad that I was able to connect with myself and her while going through this. It's so difficult to not give in when faced with a very angry or upset person. We are conditioned to see these emotional states as negative and to want to do everything in our power to alleviate them even if what we do in the here and now has consequences that are less then desirable later.

So in a nutshell this is what we did: rocked her to sleep, put her down in her bed, stayed in the room until we thought we were safe and as soon as we got up she woke up, stood up and screamed to go to our room. Went back, if we were lucky put her back on her back if not then rocked her back to sleep. All this for two hours.

I titled this blog post the observer because it's what helped me not panic or become overwhelmed yesterday. Essentially emotions happen and it's easy to get caught up in them and not have the necessary perspective to recognize the different layers of what is going on for yourself and for the other person. Practicing feeling an emotion and just letting it be, observing it, recognizing that the emotion is a part of you but not all of you helps in these situations. It allowed me to work with my daughter, to accept that she she was upset and angry and that it is okay for her to feel that way. It allowed me to recognize that she wanted me to stay in the room even after she (grudgingly) accepted to try to lay down in her bed and sleep. It allowed me to be aware of my emotions and needs but to accept that if i wanted her to get to sleep in her bed I needed to honor my needs but put them aside to be present with her given how upset she got. After two hours I was surprised at how much energy I still had and am really touched by the impact that these ideas had on helping me deal with pretty challenging parenting situation.    

Non violent communication has given me the gift of being able to accept a fuller range of human emotions and to teach my child to do the same without having to immediately intervene to alleviate the discomfort. I feel more confident today as a parent because I made a decision and stuck with it but did not make it into a power struggle. I was amazed and hopeful for the future when I finally thought that she was asleep she woke up again and was again standing in her crib. As soon as I came to her room she looked at me and lay back down and went to sleep. At strong will is a great thing to have but you need your parents brains until your own catches up and I hope that I manage to create a relationship with her so that she will freely give me the authority to be her parent. So far so good.    

1 comment: