Tuesday, January 14, 2014

When There's Love At Home

A few months ago Darik and I took some communications classes at the same time we signed up for a workshop on campus taught by seniors (for their capstone) based on the book by John Gottman "Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child." While it was a bit weird to be in a parenting class filled with BYU-Idaho students whose oldest child was 2, learning about parenting.  We were the same age as the professor in the class who observed :-)  But Ellie and I had increasingly been butting heads and struggling relationship wise, in addition to her issues of struggling identifying and processing her passionate emotions about all things - and I thought it could be helpful.

What was interesting is a lot of the principles we learned in our communications class were the same things applied in the parenting class - there was a lot of overlap. 

My parenting style had been much more love-and-logic (calm down times, etc) style and while taking this class I realized I probably was applying some things wrong.  For example:  in the BYUI class we were taught to always be emotionally honest with your child.  Always identify and communicate your emotions: whether you're angry, sad, etc.  That trust is built on honesty and finding a way to express anger and sadness in productive instead of destructive ways.  In love and logic I remember the class we took 5 years ago talking about never letting your kids see you lose your cool.  So if you're about to crack, not to let them see it - because it shows they can push your buttons and they'll do it again more next time.  So I started being fake with my emotions, while most kids would process this fine it had profound effects on Ellie & I.  So I sat down and had a serious mano-y-mano talk it out about how we both needed to work on getting along. I used the things we were taught in class mixed with things we were taught in our foster care classes to come up with this idea:
 An important step in both the communications class and parenting class was to identify, label, and discuss your emotions.  If Ellie didn't want to talk to us about how she is feeling, she could go and choose one of the color-coded emotion labels off the wall and put them on her body poster.  We haven't been SUPER active with this (because she always digs in her heels when she knows we want her to do something), BUT having this and applying the principles from our classes has transformed our relationships and the feeling in our home (also the other thing that helped I think was combining this with her love language {physical} and let her come in and cuddle every morning).  I never could have imagined how many more times we have experienced those magic moments of connecting and loving each other. 

The idea for this post came from a moment this morning when Ellie was expressing love and I was just SO overcome with gratitude for my little family and the Love We Have in Our Home.  And I thought this post went along perfectly with my theme for this year.  :-)

p.s.  Here is the handout from the parenting class we took if you are interested.  Although I recommend the book as well.

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