"He drew a circle that shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had wit to win.
We drew a circle that took him in."
I sang a song in church this past Sunday called Circle. I'd never heard it before it was given to me, but I fell in love with it the moment I set my eyes on it. "And this circle goes on and on, it was there before us it will be here when we're gone. And this circle goes on and on and on... connecting our humanity, joining me to you and you to me." It was a great reminder of how connected we all really are- how it does matter when something is going on with one member of our family because it does affect us all.
During the service, my minister shared the poem above and it really struck me. We are constantly drawing circles around ourselves and our children. Are they on the "right" side of the circle? Who is drawing the lines in the sand? Are we on the same team or are we working against one another? What a powerful realization in my own family life it was to realize that I was drawing circles that didn't include my precious children in the name of "teaching" them what they were supposed to learn. I didn't even know I was doing it.
My children's behaviors sometimes feel like personal attacks- like they are drawing a circle around themselves. "See," I reason with myself, "They don't want to be close or connected or they wouldn't act like that. He deserves to be on his own then." I would say to myself. But thankfully- eventually- I was able to see that it was I who was holding the chalk and drawing the circle, and that I had the power to draw a new circle that included him.
Where are you drawing your circles? What would happen if you drew a circle that included someone you're having a challenge with? Not always easy, but it changes lives.
How do we draw a new circle? With our parenting choices! Here are a few suggestions:
-Use time-in instead of time-out when someone is having a hard time
-Go out of your way to show an interest in something your child is interested in
-Spend time with your child "just because" and watch their eyes light up
-Give your child some extra eye-contact and see how they respond (watch your child's response- some children find this too difficult at first)
-Take a deep breath and PAUSE (Pause Before Acting- PBA)
-Go back and apologize when we don't do it the way we know they deserve to be treated!
You're not going to do everything perfectly, so give yourself some grace. It takes time and effort to draw new circles. And remember that there are thousands of families around the world who are on the same path, so you are not alone!
If you'd like some individual family support, our team can support you in making the shift! Let us know how we can help you!