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Emotional (in)security Sunday

((I wrote at Mamalode on Friday. My original tale of adoption and miscarriage and hope and perspective.  I hope you’ll read it. Or at least click over to see the cute pictures of teeny tiny Saige and Garrett.))

I’m taking a parenting class on Sundays called Circle of Security. CoS is a body of psychological research, developed by my favorite attachment therapist Kent Hoffman, that has fascinated me since we first started to learn – painfully, during the failure of our oldest child’s adoption – about insecure attachment and negative behaviors in attachment disordered and disregulated children. Circle of Security is a model for healthy attachment between caregivers and children, but it’s more than that. It’s also a model for developing and fostering healthy emotional relationships, which can be applied way beyond the parent/child relationship.

Just so as we’re clear, I have no expertise in the principals of the program. I’m not trained or certified.  I’m taking the classes for a second time because this way of thinking about parenting specifically and relationships in general resonates with me.  As I write about some aspects of the classes, I’m just a girl, talking about her experience in a class.

One of the main tenets (and my favorite part) of CoS is the concept of “Being With.”  The idea, in my own words, is that children need to learn to regulate their emotions in order to achieve emotional security and in order to do that they need someone they trust, someone who is “bigger, stronger, wiser and kinder” to “be with” them in their strong emotions.  Not join them in the emotions (that’s easy for me, one of my kids gets mad and I get mad right back atchya, baby), but “be with” them as a regulated, steady presence who helps the child to organize and cope with their feelings.

Not always!  The realism of CoS also appeals to me.  Another catch phrase is “follow emotional needs when you can; take charge when you must.”  Indicating that OF COURSE your child’s emotional needs can’t dictate every moment of your day.  Sometimes, you just gotta put your shoes on, girlfriend, regardless of whether it pisses you off.  They also teach that if you can meet your child’s emotional need to have you “be with” them 33% of the time, you will teach emotional security.

So, today, we talked about the fact that our ability to “be with” a child in any given emotion is – almost universally – a function of how much our primary caregiver was able to “be with” us in that same emotion.  If you have emotion that triggers you, it’s very, very likely that emotion was not permitted or supported by your parent.

I can tell you straight up, it’s true for me.  Anger triggers me immediately.  I don’t want to deal with it.  I don’t want to hear it.  I find it disrespectful and rude.  I’m not sure the supportive, “being with” words like “I can understand why you’re angry about that” or “it looks like that made you really mad” have EVER come out of my mouth.  I go straight to “DON’T YOU USE THAT HORRID TONE WITH ME” and “TAKE THAT ATTITUDE UPSTAIRS NOW.”  That’s not at all the reaction I have to other core emotions (shame, sadness, fear, curiosity and joy).  I often – definitely 33% of the time – find the reserves to support these emotions fully.

So, can you guess which emotion wasn’t permitted or supported in my childhood?  uh huh.

There’s a neat little visual for this concept.  Looky here, I drew for you.

BeingwithgenHere’s mine:Beingwithstacey

Interesting no?  The great thing about CoS is they are not saying that your parents were “bad” or “fucked you up.” They are saying, “hey, be aware that there’s a reason you don’t react well to anger.”  It has to do with how you were supported in that emotion as you learned emotional regulation and security.

Segue to applicable child example.  At bedtime, both Quinn and Saige clearly seek connection with me. It’s one of the rare times in our day that are quiet, it’s very structured and I try to give individual, directed attention.  Garrett likes to read and generally checks out.  Nate is very tired and usually needs only a little help with PJs and a long hug.  But Quinn and Saige really want ME. Present and engaged.  Quinn expresses this need for connection with curiosity.  He asks me unending questions in a pleasant, winsome voice. How does the light turn off? How do blankets stay together?  Why does the fan turn?  How do the words get in the books?  Saige throws fits.  One fit after another and no matter how calm and regulated and “with” I stay, she pushes it to another fit the next instant.  Too much toothpaste.  Her foot hurts.  She can’t get her PJ pants on.  Its’ not fair that Garrett had a cookie five days ago.  She’s thirsty.  Her blanket fell off her bed.  All expressed in a nasty, aggressive whine.

Oh. my. fucking. god.  Head explosion.  Both children want connection.  Can you guess which child gets what he needs?

I know.  It’s very revealing to me.  I shut Saige’s emotional need down because anger and aggression shut me down.  I usually – to a point – respond to Quinn because curiosity was acceptable and engaged in my upbringing.  Yikes.

To end, here’s my favorite quote about this concept: “Knowing when to support ourselves emotionally and when to accept help from others is essential to being successful in close relationships.  Children need to feel  that someone is “with” them in emotions to develop this balance.”

Play with me!  I want to feel less alone.  Will you do the exercise above?  Which emotion is hardest for you to support? Why?  Can you see this in examples in your home?

51 Responses to Emotional (in)security Sunday
  1. Alison
    January 21, 2013 | 9:36 am

    Wow, this is a tough one. Interesting AND intriguing.

    After some (okay, much) thought, I’d say that what triggers me, is insolence and stubbornness. I shut down, I rage silently within and I storm off, literally and metaphorically.

    Guess what I was like when I was a child, and what really pissed my parents off, and was continually discouraged? Huh.

    This is rather revealing. Ack!

    • Anymommy
      January 21, 2013 | 2:42 pm

      Yes! The same behaviors trigger me (often because they are underlied by anger). And you know, deep in my soul, I DO believe children (and everyone) should be respectful, but I like knowing what a button it is for me and why.

  2. Maria
    January 21, 2013 | 2:38 pm

    Very interesting. It’s anger for me. I have one like your Saige- fit after fit about similar things. I have another who has only been angry mostly since his father deployed, but it has been deep and painful. I would never have considered myself an angry person until my children’s anger revealed mine… I hope you’ll keep writing about what you are learning about this!

  3. Korinthia Klein
    January 21, 2013 | 3:31 pm

    That’s really interesting, thank you so much for sharing.

    I see a distinct difference, though, in ‘being with anger’ vs being with something like curiosity. I think you’re right that we need acknowledge that anger is real, but there has to be a way to do that without rewarding it so that the child doesn’t think that’s an acceptable strategy in the world. I think it’s fair to tell a child he or she is being rude if they are.

    Sounds like a fascinating class, and a helpful way to look at things.

    • Anymommy
      January 21, 2013 | 4:21 pm

      I agree 100%. And, for the record, I think taking any philosophy or advice to an extreme causes problems and leaves parents tied up in knots and unable to just tell the dang kid “knock it off, you’re being a brat.” I have no problem telling Saige she’s being rude or disrespectful or that I won’t be able to help her until she finds a different voice. Unfortunately, with anger, I have a true failing. I lose my temper or send the child away from me. I like this way of thinking about it because it reminds me to leave my crap out of it and tell her how it’s going to be from a place of calm support (rather than my own rage).

      • Korinthia
        January 21, 2013 | 5:00 pm

        That makes sense. I’m amazed how often I get in my own way of doing things the way I think is best.

        • Naomi
          January 22, 2013 | 4:53 am

          OOOO!!! Love those words “how often I get in my own way”. how true!!!

        • Naomi
          January 22, 2013 | 4:58 am

          OOOO! love this “how often I get in my own way”. So true!!

  4. Shannon
    January 21, 2013 | 5:59 pm

    I’m with Alison on this one. It’s the stubborness that sends me over the edge into my own stubborn freefall. And you know what happens when you put two stubborn people together, right? Not always pretty. It’s really hard sometimes to remember which one is the adult.

    • Anymommy
      January 21, 2013 | 7:04 pm

      So hard. And stubborness for its own sake is not okay, especially (a big no-no in my house!) when you are affecting other people or our ability to get the hell out of the house in the morning.

  5. tracey
    January 21, 2013 | 6:12 pm

    Ok, but how many times am I supposed to say “I understand your anger and I hear it” (even though I can’t change the issue that is triggering their anger) before I am allowed to send them to their room? How many times am I supposed to take a deep breath before yelling myself because I will not be talked to in that tone of a voice or with those hurtful words? Give me a number, girl. I need one for my 10 year old cuz he’s driving me crazy lately.

    • Anymommy
      January 21, 2013 | 7:12 pm

      Dude, I need you to give me a number, cause i’m still working on “at least one time” instead of going straight to INSANE YELLY MOMMY IS YELLING NOW TOO.

  6. Jennifer K
    January 21, 2013 | 6:13 pm

    This is a wonderful lesson, Stacy. “33% of the time” seems like an attainable goal, unlike many other pieces of parenting advice/theories which call for perfection. I think it might even be a good thing for our kiddos to see us screw up and lose it every once in a while. Being real is messy. Your writing is gorgeous, and inspiring as always.

  7. But Why Mommy
    January 21, 2013 | 7:13 pm

    Anger is definitely it for me. I tend to shut it down right away and not very nicely either. I’m going to have to look into this.

  8. Paige
    January 21, 2013 | 7:28 pm

    I’m delurking just to participate in this exercise.

    Curiosity: Fully supported by my family, even when what I was curious about was unusual or outside the realm of my mother’s knowledge. But the pursuit of knowledge in general was not only supported, but encouraged. I find it easy to connect with my daughter’s curiosity.

    Joy: Fully supported. Interestingly, joy was NOT fully supported in my husband’s household (the idea of unbridled joy is foreign to him. He thought it was just a figure of speech for a long time), and I see him struggling with understanding it in our daughter.

    Sadness: Somewhat supported. It was ok to be sad, as long as you didn’t do it for “too long” or make too much noise about it. In this, I work to make sure I support my daughter, and I can usually overcome the impatience with sadness that my mother so often exhibited. I find it hard to ‘support’ rather than comfort, but at least I’m not telling her That’s Enough. You are NOT SAD ANYMORE.

    Fear: Fully supported. Everyone in my family has a variation on different anxiety disorders, which are based in fear. So expressions of anxiety and fear were fully understood, accepted, and supported. Moving beyond the fear was encouraged, but first acknowledged and accepted.

    Anger: In my family, anger, especially at another family member, was never acceptable, despite the fact that my mother’s temper was just as bad as my own. This is by far the hardest of the emotions to support in my daughter. Her anger or even borderline angry behavior are almost always met on my part with impatience and my own anger. This is my place to ask for help in supporting her – my husband is excellent at supporting her when she’s angry… much the same way he can support me.

    Shame: This emotion was actively encouraged by my mother. (Is that supportive or the opposite, though?) Children, in her eyes, are often “bad” and should feel accordingly for their actions. Guilt trips were (are) frequent, and second nature. So far, I’ve avoided this path with my daughter. I have yet to see her feeling shame, and I hope that when I do, I help her understand her feelings and move on, rather than heaping more shame on top.

    Regarding bedtime… my daughter is in a phase where she will do anything to avoid sleep. Her technique does not seem to be based on any one emotion, though. She looks for a physical connection with a caregiver – more hugs, presence on bathroom trips, hand holding, putting her feet on a parent, and so on. At some point, I DO react with anger because GAH! I WANT TO SLEEP, TOO. This is the hardest time to keep my temper in check, especially since I am tired. It’s also the time I don’t have back-up from my spouse, as his bedtime is an hour before my daughter’s and mine due to his work schedule. Bedtime has now become the worst time of day for our family, but I don’t believe it’s related to having/not having emotional support. Other than fostering more physical connection during the day, I am not sure what to do about it, either.

    • Anymommy
      January 21, 2013 | 7:51 pm

      Oh, excellent Paige. You’ve really captured it in your paragraphs on each emotion. We talked about shame in class and the instructor explained that “shaming” (making someone feel bad or ashamed for their actions) is NOT “being with” /supporting someone in their own (organically induced) shame.

      For instance, if my daughter wets the bed, I see her experience shame internally and I can try to say, I see you feel badly because you don’t want to have accidents. It will happen. Let’s just wash the sheets. Which I think is “being with”. But I’ve also been impatient along the lines of “dammit, you’re awfully big for this” which is shaming and (particularly for this problem) not okay.

      As for bedtime. Arg. I know. I set very strict limits and a strict routine and stick to it no matter what because AHHHHHHH!!!! I’m done. No more children until the morning. (Said kindly.)

  9. Lady Jennie
    January 21, 2013 | 7:58 pm

    Surprisingly I can usually deal with anger. But I’m not sure I can be with my kids in any “way” 33% of the time. I don’t react well to never-ending questions and I’m really quite emotionally unavailable. That’s one of the things that breaks my heart when I catch myself doing it – constantly zoning out and giving those ‘um-hmmm’s’.

    I’ll read your Mamalode post but I think I better go to bed. It’s already 9:00! (yawn) ;-)

  10. Melanie
    January 21, 2013 | 11:46 pm

    When my reader pops up and I see you’ve posted I usually skip it, put it on hold if you will, until I can give your words the time they deserve. The time I deserve. The one thing on this planet that I want to get as right as I can is parenting. Your words always inspire me to think, process and reflect on what I’m doing-what we are doing, really- and try to do better. Keep it coming. I’m going to look up this class to see if it is offered in little ‘ol Tri-cities and I’m going to see if my husband will play along with this activity. As always, thank you.

    • anymommy
      January 22, 2013 | 5:49 am

      Aw, that is so awesome. But, just for the record, play along for insight, to understand why you react the way you do. Yes, that might make you handle situations better, but NONE of us gets parenting right, at least not all the time. (Not most of the time for me.) So, have a lot of empathy for yourself as you go!

  11. YellowLadybird
    January 22, 2013 | 12:47 am

    I’ll have to take some time to think about where I fall with the emotions you listed… but one not listed that jumps out at me is affection. My six year old is very affectionate and – this is horrible of me – it drives me crazy. She likes to kiss my stomach (not my favorite part of myself), stroke my arms, cling to me, snuggle up to me (which hurts – the kid is all knees and elbows with six year old force), and it makes me pull away. I know she is craving my attention and sees me cuddling the three year old (who is still soft and round and does not nuzzle into my belly) and the baby who still sleeps on me, nurses, etc. I don’t blame her for wanting to snuggle, but I can’t help but shut down and remove myself from the situation to go do dishes or start dinner. Then I feel horribly guilty for pushing her away.

    Interestingly, when I do spend a lot of quality time with her doing something we both love, like a long walk in the woods or running an errand, just the two of us, she really responds well and I don’t notice any annoying affection.

    Your post has made me think about affection when I was a kid, and it was not really something that happened often. Maybe just being aware of this will help me overcome my aversion to six year old affection and I’ll be able to stay in the moment and guide it towards something I enjoy, like reading a book – side by side (instead of a heavy heap of sharp, pointy angles in my lap:-))

    Thanks for posting!


    • anymommy
      January 22, 2013 | 5:54 am

      I get annoyed by affection too, Karen, particularly at the end of a long day. You know when you just can’t stand to have one more breathing thing touching you for one more second? I get like that.

      This need for affection (called a need for comfort in CoS) is actually discussed as a different part of the CoS. It’s called the “bottom of the circle” and that means nothing to you, but maybe I should back up and talk about it a little. I don’t want to bore you all with this psychological crap too much!

      But yes, I think we definitely have triggers based on how our parents responded to needs for comfort and closeness. And sometimes I think we’re just plain tired ;-)

      • melanie
        January 22, 2013 | 4:38 pm

        please ‘bore us’ with the psychology crap. I have looked up the parenting class and it is not an option for me. I even considered taking the course in Spokane but being a teacher, we don’t get that much time off for personal days.

        I didn’t see something about
        fairness. Our son is constantly wanting everything equal (different than fair, we know, but haven’t been able to get him to see). Anyway, it sounds like Saige also wants this. Any words of wisdom or research about this one?

      • YellowLadybird
        January 22, 2013 | 10:44 pm

        Yes, bore us with psychological crap! And yes, sometimes I’m just plain tired. If only they weren’t all so squirmy, we could snuggle up and take a nap together – meet their affection needs and our sleep needs!

  12. Arnebya
    January 22, 2013 | 3:06 am

    Sadness was not supported when I was a child (well, unless giving Life Savers counts as support. I ALWAYS got Life Savers to make me stop the unwanted tears. I just this minute realized I have never given any of my children a Life Saver. Shit.) And then there’s anger. My mother was a yeller who didn’t like to hear yelling (between the kids or directed toward her.) This taught me to internalize anger, but I am the person who still will hold onto anger then it gets to a point where SAY SOMETHING ELSE AND YOU WILL REGRET IT. I do not like me when I’m all mommy-hulk like that and it makes me think of my mother less than fondly (like now. Right now I’m wearing my “less than fond memories of my mother” face.) Oh, and then affection. Damn. I don’t wanna do this anymore. I don’t remember being hugged or given high fives or snuggling with my mother (my father was absent but is EXTREMELY involved in my kids’ lives. Well DAMN AGAIN. That’s a whole other discussion, huh?) so I have an issue with doing that now, especially with my 12-year-old. Like YellowLadybird says above, sometimes the affection irks me. My 9-year-old is very kissy/huggy/let me say hi to you every time I see you in the house even though I just saw you in the kitchen, Hi, and even though we’re passying in the living room, Hi. I try my best when she comes in for hug #276 of the day not to cringe or push her away or frown because I imagine the day that she senses or, worse, sees my face? She’ll be in therapy talking about why she’s not affectionate to her kids.

    • anymommy
      January 22, 2013 | 5:56 am

      Yes, I definitely experience this “affection exhaustion” as well. And I can’t even count the number of reasons my kids will have to blame me for their future therapy.

  13. anna see
    January 22, 2013 | 3:26 am

    I want to give this post the time it deserves, and will come back to ponder it some more. I will say that at bedtime, my daughter would be grumpy and push me away “your breath smells, etc) jab me w/ bondy arms and feet “you’re hogging my pillow!” while my son would make a little place for me in his bed, gently wrap my arm around his waist and talk to me in the dark, asking meaningful questions. i’m sure you don’t have to guess which instances give me the more pleasant memories. i haven’t drilled down to what this says about my childhood, except perhaps that i have my own tendencies to be harsh and critical and lash out, esp when i’m tired, so when i would experience that from her, maybe i was reacting to those parts about myself that i don’t like. hmmm. as for my upbringing, i think pretty much every emotion and quality was affirmed by my mother. as for my father, it just felt like he made cameo appearance now and then b/c he worked so much.

    • anymommy
      January 22, 2013 | 5:58 am

      Oh gosh yes, my oldest son is like this. There’s always some problem when we try to snuggle, while my middle boy just kind of melts into me. It goes to show that there’s more at play than any one philosophy could ever incorporate. Plain old personality plays a role.

      • Ashby
        January 22, 2013 | 2:34 pm

        I think this is a really important point – regardless of our triggers, some things are just easier to deal with than others! Anger isn’t a huge trigger for me most of the time but let me tell you, at bedtime when my cranky 3 year old is raging about absolutely everything, it sure sets me off.

  14. Lisa K
    January 22, 2013 | 4:54 am

    Hmmmmm… Well. I have a three year old and a 7 month old. I am endlessly patient with the baby, even though it’s all his fault that I never get any sleep. The three year old, on the other hand, I seem to have very little patience for. I know I’m still at the beginning of this whole parenting-journey thing, but I can definitely tell that, yeah, anger gets me. Anger and stubbornness. I am terrible with that. I’m guessing that putting him in “time out” for angery/mean does NOT count as “being with” him in his anger. (Not even literally, since I’m sending him away from me). Although, it’s better than when I was yelling back at him right?! Hmmm… this exercise is not doing a lot to convince me of my impressive parenting skills. :)

    As for my childhood, well my mom was pretty much fantastic at dealing with us kids’ anger (and still is). I don’t ever even remember her getting mad. My Dad however had a temper and “wouldn’t put up with that attitude” etc. I guess I can see which parent I took after. ;-)

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. Lisa K
    January 22, 2013 | 5:02 am

    *I’m posting this again because it looks it didn’t go through… if two appear, sorry! feel free to delete one.

    Hmmmmm… Well. I have a three year old and a 7 month old. I am endlessly patient with the baby, even though it’s all his fault that I never get any sleep. The three year old, on the other hand, I seem to have very little patience for. I know I’m still at the beginning of this whole parenting-journey thing, but I can definitely tell that, yeah, anger gets me. I think I am pretty good with the other emotions, although sometimes three year old joy is, like, painfully loud. Anyway. Anger and stubbornness. I am terrible with that. I’m guessing that putting him in “time out” for angery/mean does NOT count as “being with” him in his anger. (Not even literally, since I’m sending him away from me). Although, it’s better than when I was yelling back at him right?! Hmmm… this exercise is not doing a lot to convince me of my impressive parenting skills. :)

    As for my childhood, well my mom was pretty much fantastic at dealing with us kids’ anger (and still is). I don’t ever even remember her getting mad. My Dad however had a temper and “wouldn’t put up with that attitude” etc. I guess I can see which parent I took after. ;-)

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Naomi
    January 22, 2013 | 5:04 am

    I have a lot to say, but not right now. I do want to mention something that came up for me as I was reading post and comments. My daughter and Saige have a lot in common. Zarri loves to pull a ton of crap right at bedtime. Needy, whiny stuff that I don’t have the patience for. And I react with anger, but she is not angry. So, I have to give some thought about what emotion she is exhibiting and what gives me problems in being with her at that point. Because, really, if it is freaking 8:00, I love you, but please dont talk to me anymore. I hate turning into messy yelly mom, but that is what happens.

    • anymommy
      January 24, 2013 | 6:20 am

      To me as well, Naomi. I can barely deal with my own emotions at 8:00 p.m., let alone “be with” someone else in a foul mood ;-)

  17. Jessica
    January 22, 2013 | 12:43 pm

    This is so interesting to me. Honestly, before autism, I would have said anger/meltdowns/tantrums push me away but I have had to learn to dive head on into them and help be part of the solution. I never realized that maybe that has helped me deal with strong emotions in my other children that I might have shut down from otherwise.
    Very interesting. I think I just had a therapy session on your blog. Again.

  18. lisa
    January 22, 2013 | 2:45 pm

    My daughter becomes very needy at bed time, not angry but emotional and full of physical complaints and jealus of attention I give to anyone else. It does trigger impatience in me and than guilt over this because I suffered from anxiety as a child and it struck the most at night. I was the youngest of six and my parents were concerned on some level for me but mostly impatient and annoyed with my anxiety issues–so when I feel impatient with my daughter it also triggers guilt in me for feeling that way.
    I am lucky in that my two older children are 6 and 9 years older than my daughter and don’t need the same level of attention at bed time (they are up way past me).
    My daughter was adopted and spent her first year in an orphange. One thing I have realized is that as much as we are over the top in love with her and adore her (all of us) there is a part of her that missed out on having her needs met when she was little and her life is full of wonderful joyous things nows but that wound is stil there and I think rears its head sometimes (when she is tired) and exhibits itself as neediness. SHe loves love and she loves to be held and cuddled and kissed like a baby (even at 8) and if I can give her that I see the neediness subside. I truly believe that this insecurity arises because she did not get the level of individual attention and intimacy she deserved as a baby. Of course I love to give her that but then there are those nights when she has stayed up too late already and my son needs help with Spanish and I just lose it….

    • anymommy
      January 24, 2013 | 6:17 am

      I see those same behaviors in my daughter. A different part of the class talks about how hard it is for a child to overcome the emotional disregulation of not having very early needs met. Which is how I got interested in the subject matter in the first place – dealing with a child with actual attachment issues.

  19. Kate
    January 22, 2013 | 6:24 pm

    Anger. Oh, that is my biggest trigger too. But so is shame. And sadness and fear. So much so that I keep referring to your list of core emotions. In college, I read and read and read to find words for my feelings (beyond happy sad angry). I wish I were kidding.

    I feel like I was better when I had just one child needing me to be with her. With three now I am often stretched and stressed. And now I want to learn more about this CoS.

    • anymommy
      January 24, 2013 | 5:21 am

      Oh amen. It’s one thing to try and be present and “with” one pushy little person’s emotions, it’s quite another thing with three!

  20. Liz Botts
    January 22, 2013 | 7:27 pm

    I identified with this right away. Your situation in particular. My parents didn’t do anger well. They certainly never were “with” me on it, and like you, I don’t do anger well. It’s definitely my trigger, even when I try my hardest to stay calm and say things like “it seems like you are really mad right now.” More often than not I tell them it’s rude and unacceptable to shout at me. Just doing this little exercise really made me think. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Sarah
    January 23, 2013 | 1:33 am

    For me it is being rejected and never feeling good enough. The fastest way for my two to send me over the edge
    is to act like I have never done anything worthwhile for them and try to blame their misbehavior on me. Usually it is another way to say that they are mad that I haven’t let them do everything they want, which they do feel is their due (because they are adopted, because they WANT to)… Poor me, Poor me. It’s that and the flat refusal to help if they even get the vaguest sense that they are ‘needed’. Family is a foreign concept, and somehow dangerous in that light. I have not been able to sort that one out. You’d think that after 6 and 3 years that perhaps we’d be past some of this. But no.

    I too would like to hear more about the CoS stuff.

    • anymommy
      January 24, 2013 | 5:15 am

      I think adoption adds a whole extra element to the emotional security equation because the child can have such difficult emotional issues that they are bringing to the relationship. There is a specific CoS class on foster and older adopted children which I would LOVE to take.

  22. C Smith
    January 23, 2013 | 3:44 am

    My first instinct was to say that anger is my trigger also, but the more I thought about it, I realized that really it’s fear. I don’t support fear in my children, growing up fear was equated with weakness. When my child is screaming at me in anger I don’t have a problem saying, “I understand that you’re angry, if someone told me no to something I wanted I would be angry too”. But, I can’t count how many times I have told my children, “you’re not scared, that’s not something to be afraid of”. I think it’s really good to take time to analyze our parenting behavior and be more aware of our experiences that we are passing on to our kids.

    • anymommy
      January 24, 2013 | 5:04 am

      Yep. I struggle with sadness this way, having a tendency to say, “you’re okay now” and meaning, “i’m done, let’s move on.” I think it’s great too. I really appreciate how this particular program approaches it as exploring your parenting behavior, rather than judging what you are doing “wrong.”

  23. Wendy
    January 23, 2013 | 5:52 am

    I’m just going with the obvious two for me, but I hope to have time to think about the rest later:

    a) Anger was TOTALLY unsupported, not allowed, shut down. And I flip out when I feel like me kids are acting angry or disrespectful to me or to my husband. My mom was a great mom in many ways, and my adult relationship with her was rock solid, but she had a scary temper, a sharp tongue, and you did NOT talk back to her. Even trying to explain the situation or defend yourself was “talking back.” I learned early to damp down my own response, and to keep my anger in. So it completely makes sense that I can’t handle anger from my kids. Don’t they KNOW it’s unacceptable? Well, maybe if they’d been raised by my mom from birth, they would, but since their life has been birth family–orphanage–us, I guess they don’t know how their late grandma would have done things. Hmm.

    b) Joy, on the other hand, was hugely supported. We’d been home about a month this summer when our new daughter went from training wheels to independent biking. I was with her when it clicked. She shrieked with joy, I burst into laughter and swept her into my arms, we both cheered and high-gived and yelled our delight. And I suddenly missed my mom so much, because I could clearly visualize that loving laughter on her face every time she was celebrating my joy with me. I wanted to be able to tell her that I got it, what a joy it is to see your child’s joy.

    So very interesting; thank you for sharing these ideas with us.

    • anymommy
      January 24, 2013 | 5:00 am

      I saw myself in this so much. Thank you for describing being supported in joy. It’s such a good thing to focus on the positive in this exercise as well as the areas that might need a little tweaking ;-)

  24. Jen
    January 25, 2013 | 4:47 am

    I HATE BEDTIME!!! We have this massive bedroom where we have all the twins – ten year old boys in one bunk bed, three year old toddlers in the other bunk bed (which Arielle calls her “big boy bed”). We want to foster their togetherness, their bonding, their brawling…but it costs us their easy acquiescence to sleep…

    And I am so tired…I had a D&C Friday and lost so much blood they considered transfusing me. But they didn’t. So I’m exhausted by bedtime, needing a break, out of breath, heart racing, mind already disengaged…wondering how I can possibly be so sadly distraught over losing a baby when i already have five children at home who are perfectly capable of stressing me out…..

    • anymommy
      January 26, 2013 | 3:48 am

      Ah, I know this well. Our kids all sleep in the same room too. It’s lovely, except that it isn’t often. I’m sorry you had to have the D&C, it sucks and I’ve been there wondering why I can’t just catch a FUCKING break already. But don’t tell yourself or anyone else that you should be fine because he was your sixth baby. It doesn’t matter. Pain is pain and losing a baby is devastating.

  25. jen
    January 25, 2013 | 5:32 am


    apparently, you’re saying that i, too, didn’t get the with me thing while angry and therefore IT DRIVES ME ABSOLUTELY INSANE when stella does that huffitypuffity thing that she does.

    ohholynight, my friend. you have no idea just how much i am with you on this one. tonight was for the birds.

    • anymommy
      January 26, 2013 | 3:50 am

      We need a bed time support group.

  26. Kirsten
    January 26, 2013 | 6:34 am

    Joy and anger are the main ones outside my CoS. I always felt I had to temper my strong emotions. I expressed the others more quietly, so it came across as less strong. I find when my kids are very joyous they are usually loud and that bothers me. I want them to be happy and quiet. And anger? Your scenario with Saige at bedtime? That is me and my oldest…and sometimes my youngest. Most of the time I have zero patience for the angry outbursts and emotions. I know when I handle the anger with patience it is often resolved much quicker and happier, but it definitely pushes me away.

    This is very enlightening. Thank you for sharing, Stacey.

  27. Deb
    January 29, 2013 | 5:21 pm

    This is so fascinating. Please continue talking about it. I’ve been sitting with the ideas and still can’t figure out how I’d rate my childhood. I have been completely estranged from my parents for 4 years now, and the hurt and anger that led to that is coloring all my memories. I instinctively want to put ALL the feelings outside the circle, stubbornly refuse to give them any credit at all… and yet, I think there ARE many emotions that did go unsupported. Wendy’s comment about anger really resonated. Anger was absolutely not acceptable in my house, but I don’t think it’s a trigger for me with my kids because I pretty much go out of my way to be the opposite of my parents. *sigh* complicated. It’s making me sad.

    Regarding the violently affectionate child, I have one of those too. It’s like being in a boxing ring with a tiny kangaroo. Not restful AT ALL. It finally occurred to me that her neediness for physical affection might be her ‘love language’ (which I say as an expert who has read the entire summary on the back of the book). That makes it a bit easier to give her physical affection, because I want her to know how much I love her, and if that’s how she hears it… I do still get frustrated with the elbows and knees, and sometimes deal with that by rubbing her back. She gets physical contact and I don’t get bashed in the face. I do try to hug and caress her throughout the day to avoid getting my neck wrung at bedtime, but I don’t know if it’s working.

    Another vote for Bedtime Sucks.

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