Archive for November, 2014

Rituals and Restoration for Calm Care

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

We are parenting in the age of anxiety, promoting fear and depleting ourselves, as we try to make all the “right” decisions as we raise our children.  Many parents we see seem overworked and sleep deprived. As they run on empty, tempers flare and they get stuck in operational mode, delivering commands met with noncompliance. Would you believe that the problem is in our brains and our nervous systems?

When we are stressed and in “the red,” so to speak, meaning that we are feeling deprived, out of fuel and overly reactive, we have lost our center and cannot be calm.  It is impossible to be responsive, in a clear and confident reasonable manner when the nervous system in on SOS mode, shooting out adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream.  The sad consequence is that our children and teens do not witness calm confident authority that is grounded in consistency and clarity. Parents end up doing what I call knee-jerk and mood-based inconsistent parenting that typically involves desperate threats and bribes, which in turn, increase oppositional behavior.

Along with losing the ability to say “go outside and play” and with the overwhelm of screens and activities to build portfolios, we have lost a few simple rituals that are so central to family sanity and sanctity.  Having dinner together, calmly is a major ritual and so is a calm bedtime routine involving story time and physical affection. Bath time is a ritual. Most people need a decompression ritual upon returning home after a day of productivity, so that would be another fabulous time to restore our central nervous system and shift the gears down into relaxation.

Visualize a rhythm of life that is about go-go-go, and now pause, shift into quiet and calm connection, refueling and connecting to the heart before you go-go-go some more. Sound enticing? Sound natural? And, so it is.  Without taking the time to stop, restore, breath deep and relax, we are overtaxing ourselves and at risk for power struggles that are a symptom of depletion.  We need LOVE.  In many societies, as the sun sets so do our engines slow down. This is the time for love, not screens and a second work shift. A time to dine, to laugh, to share stories and connect. A time to forget about the minutia and frustrations of the day and come ‘home’ to what really matters.

So, I invite you to take a closer look and observe the energy patterns in your family. Determine if there is overload and/or depletion, leading to symptoms of tension and anger. Typically it spills out in your tone and probable sarcasm, in your empty or absurd threats that speak to your overwhelm.  Only you can change the choices that are tied to the values you are living. Only you can determine what is truly important and what can be set aside, in order to create a family environment with a greater dose of calm, compassion and care- the best nutrients for cooperation and growth.


Dr. Kay