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  • What to do when partners disagree about parenting

    Marcia, How do recommend an AP parent to successfully negotiate big disagreements with their partner about parenting style?

  • #2
    waring on the field of parenting

    Originally posted by art View Post
    Marcia, How do recommend an AP parent to successfully negotiate big disagreements with their partner about parenting style?
    The most important goal is for disagreeing parthers to begin to hear each other. Like with all big (or small) disagreements what I recommend is the use of the Imago Dialogue process to allow each person to be heard fully. Difficulties arise when people get attached to their perspective as "THE TRUTH" and begin to defend it. Intense feelings can emerge around parenting. Often, without intending to do so partners diminish one another in the service of proving their way is the right way because making space for something different feels dangerous. The goal is to create a safe space for two realities. So I encourage a structure that allows for each partner , in turn, to describe his/her concern and the way their parenting approach makes sense to them with the partner taking the part of the listener/receiver . The listening partner is guided to mirror what has been expressed, find the validity in it and express that, and make an attempt to identify the emotions their partner may have. It can be extremely challenging to move one's ego aside and to allow space for an 'other'. What is heartening and touching is that when people make the effort to listen with curiosity and openness, tender connections can emerge from what may start out as a vigorous rupture.

    I encourage parents to do some reading together, and to sign up for parenting courses based on the attachment parenting approach, together.

    Imago parenting looks at the often non-conscious ways in which our own childhood experience influences our behavior as a parent, and how to get out of our own way to become the parent we would like to be, and the person we'd hope our child will become.

    Warmly,
    Marcia

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    • #3
      What if the other partner resists repair work?

      Assuming the listener can set aside that ego, what if the other partner refuses to read or even have a conversation in which certain reflective language or processing is happening? If my DH hears me say that I "need" or "feel" or guess at what he might be "needing" or "feeling" he begins to disengage and use less rational arguments as a means to disengage.

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      • #4
        How to set ego aside?

        How do you recommend the listener set aside the ego while involved in a repair dialog? I find I can last for a few minutes before I feel like walking off.

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        • #5
          the ego two-step

          Originally posted by art View Post
          How do you recommend the listener set aside the ego while involved in a repair dialog? I find I can last for a few minutes before I feel like walking off.
          You say that you find you can last for a few minutes before you feel like walking off. So I find myself wondering what is going on that makes listening so difficult. It sounds as if there is a reactivity response and that something emotional is being set off and the impulse to bolt comes up, or that there is a low frustration tolerence and impatience is interfering.
          It's important to establish the INTENTION of the exchange. As referred to in the last post, a relationship involves TWO people, and in order for each to feel respected and included, there needs to be a means for each to feel heard.
          If the intention is to prove your own point of view without a willingness to hear another view - if the INTENTION is to prove you're RIGHT, then there's no genuine exchange. If the intention is to understand your partner the "setting aside the ego" helps to that end. It's about what I say to myself. If what I WANT is to remain in connection I need to make a decision to approach my partner's point of view with curiosity and a desire to understand him/her. It means that I have to, temporarily, move my agenda aside and really listen! Our mutual intention needs to include the opportunity for me to be heard as well, after I've thoroughly heard my partner.
          To stay and listen I may need to remind myself of my intention to make a space for this person whom I value, and I might even state, "I want to hear and understand you, and I'll do my best to listen well..."
          Another aspect of sharing and listening is the way the speaker fashions what is spoken. If it is delivered with an attitude of humility and courtesy the listener will likely have a better shot at being able to hear well, without feeling like darting off...

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          • #6
            Assuming the listener can set aside that ego, what if the other partner refuses to read or even have a conversation in which certain reflective language or processing is happening? If my DH hears me say that I "need" or "feel" or guess at what he might be "needing" or "feeling" he begins to disengage and use less rational arguments as a means to disengage.

            It is a challenge to deal with a high level of resistance...If I were in that spot what I would LIKE to do would be to mirror the first response that seems to be moving away from engagement...the less rational argument...I'd try to stay with his energy...like, "so you're really firm about your view that...." reflecting back what I heard him say, and continue along that path.
            Another approach at a calm moment, might be something like..."I notice that you seem to have a hard time when I talk about a need or a feeling...is that right?" "Can you tell me more about that"? It may be that a facilitator would be necessary.
            What you're describing sounds like the responses some men have around anything they percieve as vulnerable...feelings and needs, for example! It isn't uncommon for men who were NOT granted the benefit of attachment parenting (that would be just about all men, today!) to have be pressured from the time they were very small to "grow up", "get over it", "don't be a sissy"...etc. and so, they tend to get very uncomfortable around those "girly" terms! Ever notice that the worst insult a boy can get is that he's a "girl"? Boys, in particular, have to "suck it up" and deny their fragility and vulnerability way before they've grown through the stage of attachment and that leaves wounding that shows up in an adult male who has detached from his own feelings to the point of having forgotten he has them! That often manifests in irritability and impatience with the feelings and needs of their partners and their children.
            m

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            • #7
              an Imago approach to Parenting

              Hi Marcia

              Thank you for the interesting discussion. An Imago expression I love is 'All conflict is a protest at the disconnection.' When conflict erupts, whether it's with my partner or my child, when I focus my energy on figuring out what's needed for us to reconnect, rather than trying to prove I'm right, things begin to shift in a helpful way.

              Val Mullally
              www.pacerparenting.com

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              • #8
                Imago parenting - Imago partnering

                Thanks, Val for contributing that important piece of Imago...
                "Conflict in a relationship is a protest against the loss of connection!"

                I believe this is a really important awareness where kids are concerned...that a child's "acting out" behavior is an encoded protest about feeling disconnected, unheard, unseen, unloved.
                That is also the essence of what adults in relationship can be feeling when what is on the surface looks like criticism, accusations, stonewalling or trying to prevail as 'right'.

                The challenge for an adult in relationship is to find your way back to awareness when the powerful inclination is to react and act out an impulse that actually comes from a non-conscious part.
                As a parent, the challenge is to de-code our children's behavior and remember tha conflicts are rarely about what they look like on the surface.

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                • #9
                  Dear Marcia

                  I hear you saying that the challenge of parenting is to decode our children's behaviour and remember that conflicts are rarely about what they look like on the surface.

                  So if I use an Imago approach in 'uptight' moments - what's that going to look like?
                  e.g. When the child says , 'I hate you!'

                  thanks
                  Val

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                  • #10
                    what's it look like?

                    Originally posted by Val Mullally View Post
                    Dear Marcia

                    I hear you saying that the challenge of parenting is to decode our children's behaviour and remember that conflicts are rarely about what they look like on the surface.

                    So if I use an Imago approach in 'uptight' moments - what's that going to look like?
                    e.g. When the child says , 'I hate you!'

                    thanks
                    Val
                    Hi Val,

                    Using the Imago parenting approach, if my child declared "I hate you!"
                    1) I will check MY impulse and rather than reacting (getting upset or angry) or taking this personally, I will remember that underneath that declaration he/she is experiencing an unmet need. He/she may actually be saying, "I'm afraid you don't love (care about) me!"
                    2) I will do a form of mirroring and respond with either, "I see how angry you are right now. Tell me more..."
                    or, "You feel like you hate me!"....or simply, "I hear you!" and remain in a curious receiving mode.

                    Behaviors are driven by needs, which have often been suppressed. If, as a parent, I focus on the surface acting out behavior, the unmet need beneath the behavior will remain buried and unaddressed.

                    It can actually be amazing when a parent follows this pattern, how the underlying need will show up. A child who is mirrored can shift from "I hate you!" to "You never listen to me!"

                    Warmly,
                    Marcia

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Marcia Ferstenfeld View Post

                      The challenge for an adult in relationship is to find your way back to awareness when the powerful inclination is to react and act out an impulse that actually comes from a non-conscious part.
                      As a parent, the challenge is to de-code our children's behavior and remember tha conflicts are rarely about what they look like on the surface.

                      i think i may be too late on this discussion, but if you stuck around, Marcia, could you give a little more insight here? in this quote and your following post, you describe precisely how i desire to live in relationship w/my spouse and my children. however, i often find myself reacting or jumping into irrational responses rather than be the reasonable person that it seems to take to process life in this way.

                      i know i am often influenced by lack of sleep, stress, etc, but what things can we do to practice NOT reacting? what tips do you have to help parents/spouses get closer to the IMAGO dynamic?

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                      • #12
                        you are not too late, and i am touched by your desire to live in an intentional and conscious relationship. what makes SO much sense is how hard it is to stay out of reactivity when you're exhausted and on your last nerve.

                        So how to practice NOT reacting...i love the wisdom of a friend's mother at her daughter's wedding shower. she said, "at least three time every day, DON'T say something!" so one thing to practice is taking a deep breath and containing the impulse to jump. it is helpful to have something to say to yourself in that space, like, "as i take in this breath, i can choose to remain conscious"
                        working with the Imago principles, another thing to practice is noticing the "earliest warning signals" in yourself. learn to track the frustration level. practice language that takes ownership in place of the blaming or defending impulses. phrases like, "something is triggering me...I wonder what is being stirred up?" this is in the service of the 90/10 principle: 90% of my reactivity is about ME and my story, my past. only 10% is what you did or said that tripped my cord. if i focus on you and what you did, i will never know what i'm truly upset about!
                        journal writing can help get to what's underneath.
                        this is one time that i suggest 'time-outs' - i might give myself a time-out and count to 10 ...in Roman Numerals!
                        practice being CURIOUS..."wow! what a strong feeling i'm having...i wonder what that's about?"
                        with IMAGO Dialogue, you might ask for an appointment for a dialogue. For me, when I can remember that i want to remain in connection, but i can feel the stress taking over, i might say to my dh, "i am aware that i'm getting triggered, and i'd like to figure out what it's about for me. can we take a few minutes for me to process this?" or "i feel myself getting reactive, and i want to stay connected...can we make an appointment (as soon as possible) to dialogue?" with my hubby in the recieving role, i will start by reporting what i heard or saw in a neutral way, (understand that sometimes this is a real stretch and i might not be as calm as i'd like, but still i'll stay in the process) "i noticed you moving rather quickly when you left the house" (then he would mirror/repeat just what i said "you noticed I was moving rather quickly when i left the house) then i might say, "this might have nothing to do with you, but what it set off in me was the sense that you might be upset with me" - (he would mirror that) "when i get the sense that you're upset with me, i feel rejected and unloved" (he mirrors) ...and i would go further to explore my 90% - what fears, hurts are under my reaction?...what does that remind me of from my past? all would be mirrored. as i begin to get in touch with what is beneath my irrational impulse, such as projection of an old wound such as being rejected or discounted in my childhood, my feelings begin to shift. as my hubby repeats what he hears, and i own my experience we are operating on the same team.

                        you can read more about this in the book "Getting the Love You Want" by Harville Hendrix...I also recommend "Receiving Love" by Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt. i also HIGHLY recommend attendance at a Getting the Love You Want workshop! you can see more about that at my web site http://imagomichigan.org/Marcia/Marcia%20Home.htm and the IMAGO Relationships International site: www.gettingtheloveyouwant.com

                        you have the desire and that means a lot! you get that PRACTICE is called for. YEA! you're not blaming!

                        i hope this is helpful to you in some measure. wishing you the very best...
                        warmly,
                        marcia

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                        • #13
                          thank you marcia! that was truly helpful. i'm going to track down those books, too! i've learned a lot this week

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                          • #14
                            you go, girl!

                            Originally posted by PaxMamma View Post
                            thank you marcia! that was truly helpful. i'm going to track down those books, too! i've learned a lot this week

                            you made my week!

                            it's been a pleasure...thanks for the opportunity to be a part of the attachment movement.

                            warmly,
                            marcia

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