What do we do when friends and family don’t get it?
We’ve probably all been there at times when we have friends or family members who just don’t get the way we’re parenting. They don’t understand our children’s needs or why our children are behaving the way they are.
It can be really difficult when our friends or family don’t understand what we’re doing. It can create friction, uncomfortable feelings, frustration and annoyance.
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Here are some ideas that might help to move you forward a little bit.
Think about sitting down and explaining to them why you’re doing what you’re doing, and why your children are behaving the way they are. Some of you may be thinking you’ve already tried this and they’re just not understanding. I get it. Sometimes they won’t.
If you haven’t tried it, do sit down and talk to them about it. You might find that sharing articles, website links or even this blog helps them to understand it more than just you talking about it, and helps them to realise that:
A: you do know your kids, and
B: what you’re saying is correct.
With the best will in the world, some of our family and friends are going to struggle to believe that what we’re doing is the right thing for our children. That isn’t because they don’t trust us or want to support us, but because it’s very difficult from their own experiences.
We all know how hard it is to believe something if we haven’t walked in those shoes ourselves. If it is your parents who are struggling, do explain to them that you’re not saying that the way THEY parented wasn’t good enough or that you didn’t like how you were parented, but you are saying your children need a different approach. It’s important to make it clear that you are parenting your children differently for very good reasons.
Who Are Our Supporters
Think about who the best supporters for us actually are. Sometimes our immediate family and closest friends AREN’T the right people to be supporters. Perhaps they just don’t get it, or they don’t live near by.
Sometimes you just want to be able to talk to your parents and not necessarily having them worry about you every minute of the day. You want to be able to talk about other things and share with them the amazing things that your children might be doing. You don’t need that constant conversations of “have they hit you today?” “What’s happening with that?” “What have you done about this?”. You want them to see the lovely side of your child, so it might be that immediate family and friends aren’t the right people to be your supporters and that’s absolutely ok. Many families that I support don’t use their immediate family and friends as their supporters.
How We Connect With Them
We think about this in the same way that we connect with our children. NVR is a relationship based approach. It works on creating connections with the other person, meeting them where they are and understanding what’s going on for them, raising our presence and saying it’s ok I’ve got this.
If we think about all of those things from the angle of family and friends not getting it, we can use NVR to help them potentially come around and see the approach and understand it. I know with some couples I support, one parent will use NVR on the other parent if the other parent doesn’t understand it, or wants to take the more traditional approach to parenting. Where they’re using NVR, the other parent comes around slowly.
If you are finding that you’ve got friends and family who really just don’t get it, maybe you could try using NVR on them! Obviously, it needs some tweaks – we don’t do it exactly the same way as we use it with children, but the principles are exactly the same. Show them that you’ve got this, and you know what you’re doing and what you’re doing is the best for your children.
From my personal experience, and from that of parents I work with, when people can start seeing that the approach you’re using is really working, it can be easier for them to accept it and take it on board.
Ask Your Professional Support To Explain To Them
If you are working with a social worker or an NVR Practitioner, talk to them. Ask them to come and talk to your family and explain to them what it is you’re doing. We all know how it goes – it’s a bit like our children – we can tell them something but they’re not really going to listen. But when someone else tells them something, they accept it straight away. That’s just the way it is and if that helps move things forward, then brilliant. There are many professionals and social workers who would happily talk to family and help you move things forward.
At times, you just have to accept that they don’t understand, and that they’re going to struggle to come around to what our children need.
If you can accept that, you can reduce some of the struggles that you might be having and make that relationship a little bit easier. Your family and friends care about you and they don’t want to see you or your children struggling, they just want everybody to be ok. It’s really hard to watch someone you love experiencing challenging behaviour from their children. Try not to be too harsh on them.
Don’t feel guilty if you decide your friends and family aren’t going to be in your immediate support network. It’s much better to have people in your immediate support network who get it and whose help is helpful.
Family and friends who want to be helpful but aren’t able to offer helpful help are going to be more of a hinderance than a help in the long-term.
That person you call up when you can’t cope and you need to rant might be your best friend or a neighbour, or a fellow parent who’s using NVR who can really empathise and understand it.
Yet when you just want a bit of a chinwag, or want to do something else, that might be when you ring your parents, or your family member.
Think about who you’re using, and when. And don’t feel guilty about using different people at different times for your support.