Bryan is a best selling author, child behavior expert and consultant, internationally recognized speaker on challenging behaviors and attachment issues, and founder of The Post Institute for Family Centered Therapy.
One day, while working with a private client, I came to an emotional understanding. Let me tell you how it came about. I had been working with a unique mom of three adopted children off and on for several months, and whereas we struggled massively at times, the family made steady progress. On a particularly difficult day, Mom sat on the couch in front of the large picture window in her front room, and I sat opposite her in a chair. I reflected on the rain falling outside, and though it looked blustery, it was still warm. Prompting this mother to look at some of her emotional reactions, it was as though a lightning bolt struck me! All of a sudden, the deepest sadness shook me as I realized something for the first time, and I began to cry.
She asked me why I was crying, and I told her, “I just had the deepest sense of sadness and anger for what I and the rest of society have been doing to you. We are trying to get you to build a parenting castle, and the actual truth is that you only have blueprints for a trailer house. That just makes me so sad and so angry because everyone is expecting you to build and do something for which you have never been taught. How frustrating and sad that must be for you.”
“No, Bryan,” she replied. “You’re wrong. I don’t have blueprints for a trailer house. I have blueprints for a lean-to!” And she began to sob. John Bowlby, the Father of Attachment, stated in the 1950s, “The first three years of our lives establish the blueprints for all of our future relationships.” That’s for all of our future relationships, not just some of them—our marital relationships, our parent-child relationships, our peer relationships, our friendship relationships, and even our work relationships. Science now tells us that it is closer to sometime between conception to five years of age that those blueprints are established in us.
Here’s what’s important, though, based on what we believe we are seeing in others, their homes, their children, and their relationships: We are driven to create what we think are castles. If the mother across the street isn’t arguing with her son, and he’s a star athlete, we believe that they are living in a parenting castle. We want that castle. So, we become persistent, patient, compassionate, empathetic, and understanding. We really want that castle. But, over time, we start to struggle. Our relationship with our child isn’t so great. She’s not doing so well in school, doesn’t have that many friends, and has difficulty interacting with the family.
What we see in our child unconsciously challenges our ideal of a parenting castle, so we become frustrated. We shift from loving, patient, and understanding to becoming critical, controlling, shaming, blaming, and threatening. We want that castle, and by gosh, that child is not going to get in the way of it! Guess what? That’s a blueprint misfire. In our effort to create something ideal, we forget about our original working blueprints. We measured wrong, cut wrong, and hammered wrong. Our true blueprints became activated, causing our ideal blueprints to misfire. During stress, then, we don’t do what the mother with the parenting castle blueprints would do; we revert to our trailer house blueprints.
That doesn’t make us wrong. It just means that we must realize our blueprints are our working map for relationships. Before we can build a castle, we must first look closely at what we have. And that’s the painful part. We want the castle, but to build new blueprints, modify, and adjust to get the castle, we must be willing to look at what we have now. Before we can have something different, we must be willing to closely examine what we have and recalculate.
The biggest problem with so many of our parenting systems, mental health systems, foster care systems, adoption systems, and so forth is that they were created and are fostered by people not fully aware of their own personal blueprints. Once we examine our current blueprints, where they came from, what they tell us, and the directions they give us, we have the opportunity to slow down and self-correct. It also helps to find someone living in a bigger parenting house and ask for direction. There’s a pretty simple law called the law of replication. When we want what someone else has, we must find out what they’re doing and do the same thing. Soon, the law takes care of itself.
It’s also important to realize that, based on our nation’s history and the degree of stress and trauma we have withstood throughout the generations, there are few parenting castles. Most of them are illusions. That doesn’t mean that we can’t all build a parenting castle. It just takes time, patience, understanding, diligence, persistence, and love. When the trailer starts to get a little shaky, go back and explore the foundation. Add another support. Remember, the supports added today will be the same supports for tomorrow’s castle. (Aside from reading the books From Fear to Love: Parenting Difficult Children, The Great Behavior Breakdown, joining the Post Network for Parents and Professionals, and getting as many educational resources as you can from http://www.postinstitute.com the best way to start changing your parenting blueprints is by getting yourself a POST Parenting Coach. Our coaches and I don’t have castles yet, but we are continually turning our own trailers into some nice homes.)
Bryan Post is a best-selling author, internationally renowned speaker, and psychotherapist specializing in attachment, adoption and trauma. To learn more about Parenting Challenging Children, Oxytocin the Love Hormone, Mindfulness, and How to Thrive instead of just survive as an adoptive or foster parent, visit www.postinstitute.com, www.oxytocincentral.com, and www.reactiveattachmentdisorderparenting.com. To find out more about Bryan Post’s ground breaking parenting program Parenting Attachment Challenged Children “Hands-On” Home Study Course visit www.postinstitute.com/AttachmentDisorder. Join our Facebook page for daily parenting help and inspiration, videos, articles and contests along with other parents and professionals just like yourself. Also visit our Blog at www.bryanpost.com.
This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit gailkasper.com.