When I had Gavin, I thought it was hard work being a parent. Now that I have two children to balance my time between, it feels like I’m really discovering what “hard work” really means. I’m sure if I had a third child, I would redefine “hard work” yet again. As a parents, we grow into our roles. We might wish things were different, but we inevitably accept that they aren’t and we just get on with it. But that doesn’t necessarily negate the feelings of inadequacy we might feel from time to time when we aren’t all that we would like to be for our children. I’m sure most parents at some time in their parenting careers have felt that way. I, too, have felt that way. If we look back at the past, there will always be things that we wished we could have done differently – things we wished we could have changed.
Yumiko Tobitani, in her book “Quantum Speed Reading: Awakening Your Child’s Mind“, writes that you can use “imaging” to heal your relationship with your child. She gave an example of a mother who resented her child from birth because it had been an unexpected pregnancy that she did not want. Because of that, her child grew up in an environment of resentment. It wasn’t until her child was older that she wished she could take back all the negative emotions she had poured out towards her child. Through imaging, Tobitani encourage mother and child to “re-live” the pregnancy, the birth and growing up in the way that they would have liked it to be. After a few sessions of imaging, mother and child were able to heal their relationship and put aside the years of resentment.
Tobitani encourages all parents to change events in their lives that they have been unhappy about by imaging how they would have liked it to occur instead. Similarly, you can change anything in the relationship you have with your children that you are unhappy about by using imaging with your child. Extrapolating on this, I started to tell Gavin a bedtime story about a boy who was so loved by his parents. The story, of course, is Gavin’s story. The aim of the story is to remind him how much we love him especially in times when we can get so caught up with other issues (like Gareth being sick) that we fail to give him the attention he needs.
Taking a leaf out of Nurture Shock, that we should talk about sensitive issues rather than dance around them in a vague manner, I tell him how much we love Gareth as well, but I reinforce that loving Gareth does not affect how much we love him. Finally, I extrapolate the story into the future to tell him about the wonderful life he will have – which I recently discovered covers the pygmalion effect (by setting up positive expectations for our children, they will live to fulfil those expectations).
Sometimes, if he falls asleep before I get the chance to tell him the story (especially during times when I feel he needs to hear it), I tell him the story instead of doing the 5 minute suggestion.