The Amanda Quick Show

Rebuilding the Bond: A Journey through Parenting, Boundaries, and Healing from Trauma

September 30, 2023 Amanda Quick Season 1 Episode 10
The Amanda Quick Show
Rebuilding the Bond: A Journey through Parenting, Boundaries, and Healing from Trauma
The Amanda Quick Show
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After emerging from a personal struggle that saw my children, fueled by tales spun by my ex-partner, turn against me, I discovered a silver lining amidst the pandemic. Utilizing a blend of freedom and structure, it provided me with a valuable chance to mend our fractured bond and restore my place as their safe haven. Join me, Amanda Quick, as I recount this emotionally-charged journey and share effective strategies to regain lost ground in parent-child relationships. 

Furthermore, we delve into the Love and Logic methodology - a unique parenting approach that focuses on setting boundaries and consequences without assigning blame or judgment. We will explore real-life examples of this technique and recommend a crucial exercise to establish mutual boundaries in your relationship with your kids. Listen in as we navigate through tough situations with grace, understanding, and forgiveness while learning invaluable lessons from our past reactions. Don't miss this opportunity to celebrate personal growth and change while we traverse this challenging yet rewarding parenting journey together.

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Speaker 1:

Hello everyone, welcome back to the Amanda Quick Show. I'm your host, amanda Quick. Today's episode, a conversation I want to have is about some of the after effects of trauma, especially in children, especially in children who were alienated against one parent, and I want to talk through some of the both recent experiences that I've had, as well as some of the past ones, because I think this is something that we don't talk about enough. I personally have not ever seen somebody talk about this outside of context to understand why alienation is so harmful, but I haven't seen any talk about what happens after the fact. And so, for context, when one parent is being alienated against the other, it's basically where one parent is kind of pitting the kids against the other parent and telling them stories to basically become the favorable parent, and most of the time the stories are either inappropriate for the child to hear, without context they're not taking full responsibility for their own side or actions, and it's really putting kids in the middle to pick a side. And there's lots and lots of evidence out there that this is really, really damaging for children, and I experienced exactly what that damage looks like. All three of my kids were being groomed in a lot of different ways, including this alienation, and my ex would say things like mommy left us and, while it's subtle, I didn't leave my kids yes, I wasn't around 24, seven anymore because I got a job and I had friends and I started doing things for myself, but that didn't mean that I was abandoning my children, and he basically implied that even going back to work was abandoning them, posing himself, as you know, the more favorable parents. He would say things like the reason that mommy and daddy aren't together is because mommy won't forgive daddy, and while on one hand, that's true, it's also making it my fault that we're not together anymore. And so he began setting the stage for the kids to have a unfavorable and eventually angry opinion of me, and it turned into them physically fighting to even spend time with me, and this was all coupled with bribery and sugar and screens at his house, whereas my house had boundaries and not desserts every night and I didn't give you candy if you didn't cry and screens were very limited and their nervous systems had a really hard time going back and forth and the addictive patterns to all of the uppers meant that they basically went through withdrawal with me, further deepening this dislike of being at my house, and so the stage was very easily being set where I was the not fun, not good parents and he was the fun parent they wanted to be with, and all of that, with all of the stories made it. So they got to the point where they didn't want to be around me and if they were around me, they were violent, they were rude, they were abusive. Now, for me, I was a mom who very much focus on the natural, peaceful parenting methodologies. I had natural births and home births. Actually, with my second two, I breastfed all of my children for two, three years. I co slept, I baby war, I did everything I could to form a really, really strong bond and connection. Especially their first few years of life was a full time stay at home mom. My whole world was my children, and so for all of a sudden, my kids to basically hate me really, really was challenging. It hit me really, really hard because there's some part of me that and, I think, some part of most moms who wonder Is it me, am I the problem? Am I not doing things right? And so because of that, because we all have those insecurities and because of the things that were being said about me and because of the way they were behaving around me, I started to question myself. I started to question if what I was doing was right, if if what I was doing made sense, if all of this fight and back and forth was even worth it, if my kids were going to hate me in the end. And all of this continued to play out, and their behavior only got worse for a long period of time, and the only the only time that it shifted was once they were no longer around their father. And so this escalation and this frustration, and I was basically doing everything I could to hold it together and all of a sudden it just poof. One day it was over. One day I had full custody and he no longer had a say in the same way, and he no longer was allowed to be around and eventually he completely left our lives and I was left with a really broken relationship with my children. They didn't listen, they didn't respect me, they didn't have any boundaries, they basically did what they wanted when they wanted, and they could get physical at times. And so, yes, they were young enough that I could still physically pick them up and remove them. I could hold them if they were being violent. That was thankfully the case, but it wasn't without a lot of challenge and, for me, from a complete, just amazing timing perspective, two weeks after I got full custody, the pandemic hit and so, while things were really challenging, we were now together 24, seven. Everybody was home, the kids didn't go to school, I didn't go to work, and it was a reset moment for us because we had to come up with a new normal. Everybody did, everything was was different. It was different. There wasn't the same get up, get the kids out the door, go to work, pick them up after school, dinner, bath bed and do it again. That wasn't the case anymore. Instead, it was very much about okay, how do I manage working and get them set up to log into their zoom classroom and how do I feed everybody? And A lot of the Structure kind of got removed Removed because there was, there was literally no way to manage it all and they had a level of freedom in some places and a level of structure and others. But it was an opportunity to be their safe person again and it took some time, quite a bit of time, but eventually that happened with enough conversation, with enough Realization that I was never going anywhere, and then I always was their safe person, and once that started to shift, things did get a lot better. But there was some pieces that didn't, and there were some pieces even still to this day, are true, and it's something that I've continued to have to work on consciously with them and with myself, because what I don't think anybody talks about is what that did to me. What did it do to my psyche and my belief about myself and who I am as a mother, when I have these children that I grew in my body, birthed, fed from my body, fought for, all of a sudden have this, this hate and anger towards me? It changed parts of me in a way that I am still learning to fully understand, because what I wanted more than anything was to have my babies back, to have them safe and to have my connection with them again, and so what that meant is that I allowed their behavior to be what it was. I allowed the abuse to continue to take place. I allowed them to speak to me in rude and inappropriate ways. I allowed and excused their behavior towards other people. I allowed their the escalations to happen. I didn't always hold the strong boundaries, because I also wanted my relationship with them back, and it took me probably a good two, three years to really see that for what it was and to see that there were pieces that even now are reflective of that time. And sometimes, when they're speaking to me, I look at them and it's like would they speak to anybody that way? No, just mom, because it's it's okay to speak to me that way, because I've allowed it to be okay, and I think that that's true for a lot of people who have experienced this type of alienating behavior, and it's something that I have to every single time correct and redirect, and I have to find a way to talk about it in a way that they can comprehend without blaming, because it's not really their fault either, and it's not my fault, it just is. It's something that we need to now unravel and figure out what type of relationship we do want to have, because the truth is, I still, more than anything, want a really beautiful, positive relationship with my children, and they're no longer the small children they were. They're now 8, 11, and 13. And so we've even got full teenagers going on, and so, while that brings its own level of rude and self-entitled behavior. Some of it still stems from that original time, and it's really important, I think, for every parent in general, but especially every parent who's ever been in this type of situation, to sit down and think about what type of behavior, what type of treatment are you allowing of your child because of what happened, because all you want is to be their safe place, and so you've allowed them to speak to you in ways that you wouldn't allow anybody else to speak to you, and you've allowed the ways that they feel self-entitled or the way that they act, or the way that they even potentially get physical, to be excused away. And I think it's really important that, as we re-establish safety, we don't just re-establish safety with the fact that we are a safe person for them, but they need to be a safe person for us also. And I think because, as moms especially but really any parents who've been in this type of situation our kid's safety matters far more than our own, and so that's true here too, and knowing that we're safe for our kids and that they're safe and they're recovering is our first priority. But after that and you could argue, alongside that we also have to feel safe in ourselves. We also have to make sure that we feel physically, mentally and emotionally safe with our children. And, yeah, every parent gets overwhelmed and, yes, things get chaotic. But we have to make sure that we feel safe to say no, and that we feel safe to hold boundaries, and that we feel safe to stop and change behaviors if we need to, and that our goal is to model what that looks like as an adult for our children, because, while we may become safe for them, if we don't model what it looks like to hold boundaries when people misbehave, they won't ever learn how to do that for themselves either. And so it's kind of this double-edged sword that, in order to make sure they remain in safe relationships, we have to model it in our relationship with them directly and their siblings. And so I think that this conversation is really highlighting how important boundaries are, not just with other adults, but with our kids too. And that's not to say you know, if you're tired, you get to just check out, because that's just not how parenting works. But you know if I need you to speak to me differently or not yell at me when you need something or, you know, not slam the doors. You need to respect that, and if you don't, there needs to be some version of natural consequence that they need to see that they have chosen, and so my method for this for whatever it's worth, and every version of parenting has all kinds of different styles, but I really like the love and logic methodology for natural consequences, and that's the. The premise is the idea that, with empathy, we can hold strong boundaries, and that the boundaries and the consequences need to be equal to what has happened. And if they are natural consequences and they are direct result of a choice that was made, then there is no blame to be placed on the parent for holding the boundaries. It's simply the consequence of the choice, and so an example of this, for instance, is I asked you to clean your room and the request was please clean your room before you go to your friend's house, and they ignore it. They're not allowed to go to their friend's house. That's a very natural consequence, nobody's forcing anything upon them. One that I used to have to employ with my young children is they don't want to get dressed in the morning. Well, if you don't get dressed in the morning, then you're going to go to school in your PJs. They don't like that, and there's usually a bunch of hissy-fits about it once we get to school and you're still in your PJs and yes, I of course brought clothes and they could change when they got there, but the next day, you better believe, they got dressed themselves. And so it's not that I'm forcing anything upon them or yelling or fighting with them. It's just simply, if this is the choice you're making, then this is the consequence. We're having Things like you know they broke something. Well, how are you going to work on paying to fix that? And I will help them come up with solutions and choices. And maybe that's a lemonade stand, maybe that's you sell something, maybe that's you do some extra chores. But on some level there's a level of accountability and responsibility that comes with understanding. The choice you make has consequences, and the hardest versions of this for me have been to hold the consequences about the treatment of myself, because I don't even always recognize it as being rude and I usually don't even recognize it until they're doing it to other people. And that's the hard part is catching it and redirecting it in the moment so that that habit starts to change, because it gets to just be the way they're used to talking to you and so finding. The natural consequence to that version, you know, for me has been things like if nobody's having fun because everybody has a big old attitude when we try to go do things like go for a bike ride or go for a hike or whatever then I don't really have the energy to go do those things anymore and it also means I don't have the energy to go do the things they want to do, because I don't like how I'm being treated when we leave the house. And while that's not ideal for anybody, I think on some level they get to the point where they start to understand that if I want to do fun things, I have to be nicer. Sometimes it takes a few times to get there, but we're working on it and I think that it's really important for people to realize that it's not your kid and it's not something you've done, it's not your parenting, but it's a response and reaction from this level of abuse that has happened. And it's a response and reaction for both of you about what's happened and how you now have to move forward more aware than you were previously, more aware of what's acceptable in every version of relationship, just as you are more aware in the relationships with in a romantic sense and in a friendship sense. You're even more aware of a relationship with your children, and this is something that I wish that everybody who came out of traumatic situations thought about in a different way and they thought about what type of relationship they want. Now, now that we've been through this and we've learned all these things, how do we want to work together and we want to treat each other, and maybe it's even, maybe it's even an exercise to sit down with your kids and write it out. Some kids react really well to things like that and having a say of what they want, and I know for me, my kids really want some respect about their personal space, for instance, and so they may ask I want you to knock on your door and not just come into my room and I'll say great, thank you for asking for that boundary, and I also would like the same and not to be barged in, and I would like to be spoken to this way, and so we can kind of come to set of agreement. I know my oldest really likes when I'm very clear with my requests, and if there's an ask of him, he really wants to know why, he really wants the understanding of why I'm asking him to do something and he hates because I said so. No, that's not appropriate, because I am a sovereign being. Because I said so does not work. And while there's a time and a place to you know, there's something really wrong. We have to move fast. You need to listen. There's also many, many opportunities to explain my reasoning or to explain why I want to do certain things. You know, I'm remembering a time just a couple weeks ago I was trying to explain to him why I really wanted to go do stuff as a family on the weekends. You know I'm I'm working full time there in school and the weekends I try to, at least one day on the weekend, go do something outside, go for a hike, go for bike ride, do something, not just do chores. And he lately doesn't want to participate. He doesn't want to go, he wants to sit in his room, he wants to Chat with his friends or play video games or whatever, but he doesn't want to participate in family activities. He says I don't understand why I have to go. I don't, I don't want to. And I told them. I said, you know I only actually have about five more years with you living at home and that's crazy to think about. But you're 13 and there's. I only get five more years and then you get to do whatever you want, whenever you want. You can move out, but I only have five more years where you, where you, live with me and I get to spend time and we get to have the whole family together on a regular basis and I really, really want to enjoy as much of that as I can. And even just explaining that he got it on a different level and he just said okay, and he was willing to go on. I don't even remember what we were going to go do, but he was willing to go and I just thought how nice it was to have him not fight with me and all I had to do was explain why it was important to me, because it doesn't. It's not that he doesn't care, that it's important to me. He just needs to understand why it is. And you know my middle son struggles in different, in different ways with what we do. Sometimes he does not as much of an outdoors person, and so allowing them to have some of a say of what those family activities are really helps, allowing there to be some sort of excitement at the end of it, and maybe that's we go out to lunch or dinner afterwards or we make it a little bit more adventurous in some way that he really likes, helps him get excited about going and doing stuff. And my little one will pretty much go do anything with anybody at any time because that's his personality. But he also sometimes doesn't want to, or he gets frustrated or he it's too hard or too challenging. And listening to them and hearing them and their whole being and all of their real reasons of why they don't want to do something and react, responding to it, because nobody wants to live in a dictatorship and be told this is how it is, we must eat this food and we must behave this way. That's not how I, that's not the relationship I want with my children, that's not how I want to be treated either, and so I also can't treat them that way. And working in partnership with them, hearing them out and also recognizing that I am still in charge of the household and there is some level of respect that's required because of that. And if they can do that and we can work together, then things just get to be a whole lot easier for everybody involved, and not every day is a challenge and not every day is a fight, and in fact there are far less of them than there used to be. But I also don't want to imply that it's all good every day either, because that's just not real life, and the level of trauma that we've all endured and the relationship, challenges and dynamic changes on top of the fact that we all grow and change and kids go through all of the changes they do as well as me having the awareness as I've had and have learned to heal and change my perspective all of it's been an ever-evolving process. And so the last part of this conversation, I really want to, I really want to help you have grace with yourself here, because if you're still living with a lot of challenge with your children even after things are over, or perhaps you're in the midst of what seems like hell right this moment, please have some grace with yourself and know that it's not going to be like this forever and that whatever is happening right now is, on some level, teaching you something. Even if it's not perhaps a lesson you want to learn, right this moment, it is teaching you something. Perhaps it's teaching you what type of boundaries are okay and what aren't okay. Perhaps it's teaching you something about what they're currently experiencing and what perhaps they need from you or somebody else. Perhaps it's teaching you another way to react and respond to difficult situations. All of those things are hugely valuable and sometimes we certainly don't wish to have to be in the middle of them, but please have grace with yourself as you're going through it. Please recognize that we didn't come out of the room with a manual and an action plan and a to do, step by step process of how to get through this stuff. We're all learning and evolving. As it's happening, every single thing gives us new perspective, new possibilities, new understandings to heal, to grow, to change, and it's really about what you do with those lessons that matters, at least in my opinion. What you do with those lessons helps set you up for what you are here to do, going forward and how you want to show up going forward. How you react and respond in these situations helps, helps you identify what you want in the future situations and relationships. What kind of relationship do you want with your kids? What kind of relationship do you want with your partner or spouse, or friends or family? All of those difficult situations is giving you all that data. It's giving you all kinds of things you both want and don't want. Going forward and recognize those things, recognize those as beautiful, amazing lessons to gain clarity and understanding, to help you understand how you want to operate when things are challenging. Because I've definitely reacted in a not so awesome way. Many times in fact, not just once I have definitely yelled and screamed at my children. I have definitely lost my temper and slammed my own doors and walked away and said I'm putting myself in time out because I am escalating in a way that I don't feel safe to myself. I have definitely, definitely put myself in situations and reacted in ways I'm not proud of. But if I were to judge my entire parenting, my entire parenting life, based on things I'm not proud of, well, I will be pretty darn hard on myself. And I think it's really, really important that we have grace for ourselves in those moments and recognize that we are learning, we are healing our own traumas in the moment, in real time, in active, difficult situations, and that we're doing the very best we can in each and every moment and that, yes, we can and will do better, but right this moment, sometimes we need to just get it out, forgive ourselves, ask for forgiveness from our kids, knowing that for the most part, they almost always are really happy that we are even asking, and they love to have this conversation about what's okay and what's not. I know my kids. Every time I've asked for their forgiveness it's usually ended in with an amazing conversation that follows and there's a new level of respect that's formed, because we don't want to imply to our children that we're perfect humans, but we also do want to model what it looks like to make mistakes and to apologize for them and to redirect and change and grow. And I think that is just a powerful of a lesson, as holding a clear boundary and reacting as you want to in the moment Both of them are true Modeling what it's like to lose your temper and throw a hissy fit and then come back and apologize teaches a beautiful lesson too. And so having graced with yourself, recognizing that you're doing amazing because you're actually aware of the fact that you are learning, being aware that there is a lesson that you're working on, being aware that there is something to grow and to strive to do better, is amazing, and honoring that and having graced in the moments that it doesn't feel as good, and finding the moments that do and celebrating those and being proud of yourself as you've grown and make changes. That's what I want to highlight here, because every single person who's been through any type of trauma childhood, relationship, trauma of any kind is going to have some type of baggage when it comes to parenting our children. It just is. We all carry the stories passed down to us through generations. We all carry beliefs of how kids are supposed to behave, how parents are supposed to behave, what the relationships are supposed to look like, and then, when we also experience trauma with those children, it amplifies every single one of those things even more and we build new beliefs about ourselves and new challenges come to play and we allow behavior that we perhaps wouldn't have before. But we do so because all we do want is that relationship back, and so please have grace with yourself as all of this is unwinding. Please honor the lessons that you've already learned, recognizing that more are coming and that that's actually a good thing. As hard as they are, it is a really beautiful thing that we get to experience as we grow, we go through life and as we go through the relationship with ourselves and our children. Thank you so much for listening to me today. I hope that anybody who's experienced any type of trauma when it comes to alienating behaviors, with relationships with your children or anybody else in your life, that this gives you something to think about. Stay tuned for next week. I will see you later. Lots of love everyone.

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