Parenting for Faith – 2- Safety
Helping children feel safe in their relationship with us helps them feel safe in their relationship with God. This is how we can help our children have faith – a precious gift.
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One of the things that we do as therapists, when we’re working with somebody who has been traumatized, is we concentrate on making them feel safe. As I think about it, that’s also true with everybody that comes into my office – and especially true of children. The relationship isn’t going to go anywhere until they feel like they are going to be taken care of. And I’m not just talking about a safe location, but also emotional safety – free from judgment and put-downs and all the things that go along with that. Of all the things that I try to teach parents to do with their children, this one, on balance, seems to be the most difficult for people to pick up.
So today we’re going to get really specific about how to create emotional safety. Children are small; adults are big. Children do not have formal operational reasoning and adults do. Children have no power and adults have all the power. So it’s easy for adults to intimidate or frighten children without even realizing it. It’s even easier to shut them down emotionally and make them feel shamed, or guilty, or inferior. Older siblings can cause that to happen to children, too. They have more strength, more physical ability, more mental capacity. So they can, also, intimidate their younger siblings and make them feel inferior. Kids don’t often realize that their older siblings have had more time to learn and grow. They think that it’s a level field and when they can’t do as well as their older siblings, a lot of times they feel like they’re not as good as, or less than.