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Joy in Your Children
get caught up in challenges or conflict raising your kids? Not uncommon.
sad truth is though, that when mired in conflict we can lose sight of
happier, better times and lose not only our own spirit but also the spirit
of the relationship. When mired in conflict we can lose sight of our
mutual love and escalate bad feelings, not to mention bad behaviour. We
can turn our children, and they us, into villains.
mired in conflict or parenting challenges, some parents reasonably turn to
counselling. They look for strategies to manage their children’s
behaviour. They seek better forms of behavioural control or discipline.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, as children do need to learn limits
and internalize rules. However, a focus just on behaviour and discipline
can give rise to ongoing bad feelings between parents and children.
Resentment can continue to build on both sides. Focussing only on
behaviour leaves out a vital ingredient for parents and children to both
feel great about themselves and the relationship. It may sound corny, but
that ingredient is joy.
and expressing joy in children tells them they are of value. As children
feel and experience their parents finding joy in them, spirits lighten and
bad feelings can fade. Rather than being mired in challenges and conflict,
attention is directed to good times, good feelings and cooperation.
Parents and children experience a different kind of emotional energy; one
through which they can return to talking and discussion as a means of
mediating behaviour rather than relying upon control and enforcement.
on joy, one parent writes:
It somehow brought their preciousness back to life for me and I
realized that there are definitely times that it’s difficult to
appreciate or feel loving towards our children until we revisit the times
it was so easy to love them.
challenge in using joy as a means to rekindling parent-child relationships
and better feelings is that some parents may have forgotten how or where
to find joy. A survey of parents involved in early childhood education,
social work and family therapy provides the following suggestions for
finding joy in children:
on the outcome of using joy on her now adult children another parent
Having 3 very headstrong boys, when they were teens, I used to go
into their bedrooms after they were asleep and just look at them and
remember when they were babes curled up in their cribs. I also thought of
times when they gave me laughter and tears of pride. I knew down deep that
they would grow into responsible adults who not only would be my sons, but
my friends. That got me through some rough times – did not resolve
conflict, but did give me a better perspective and some patience the next
Mired in challenges or conflict with your children? Then think about finding joy in them. For more examples of how other parents find joy in their children, click here: Joy - Survey and Results.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane,
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