Be Flexible. Roll with it. Let it go.
As I mentioned in the book, your kiddos will often be on a roller coaster and you will have to navigate how to continue to love on them, without getting on the ride yourself. Later in the book I speak more about Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) but I thought I would start to talk about it a bit here to introduce two skills that will help you be a more flexible parent.
Some parents are in a constant battle for control in their home. They have an ideal of how their children should behave and then become very disappointed and irritable when they are unable to control the outcome of a situation. These parents will sometimes then jump on the roller coaster with their children and end up saying or doing things they later regret. One core skill from DBT that is good not just for our children, but us as parents, is Radical Acceptance.
Letting Go of what you want and Radically Accepting what is. It doesn't mean that you agree with what is. It just means that you acknowledge the reality of what is and not try to fight against it or control it. Watch a youtube video of DBT founder, Marsha Linehan discussing Radical Acceptance here.
Maybe you wanted to get out the door on time for soccer practice. You have planned ahead, prompted, reminded, packed up and are trying to get in the car, but you are once again late. You can choose to focus on how frustrated you are in your family that you can never seem to ever get anywhere on time and how no one listens to you. You can wallow in that pain and frustration. Or you can radically accept you will be late today and take a deep breath and it go. Either way, you are going to be late. You can arrive peaceful or irritable. It's up to you.
Maybe you dreamed of a family that was happier, kinder, enjoyed vacations together, loved one another, talked through conflict better, stayed together. And maybe that isn't happening for you this week. Continuing to fight against reality only leads to suffering and pain. But radically accepting the condition of your children and how trauma has impacted their brains will allow you greater peace and clarity about how to move forward.
The skill of radical acceptance allows us to be more flexible. To accept the reality of what is going on for our children in the moment, and help them through it. It is a very difficult skill to practice, but it creates a more loving environment as we accept our family for where we are all at and allow us to slowly move forward together.
One other skill from DBT that increases our ability to be flexible is Ride The Wave. Generally this skill is used in order to increase Distress Tolerance. So, as a parent, we could use it when we are feeling overwhelmed with our own disappointments in our home and when our anxiety, irritability or sadness becomes more intense. To use this skill in those moments you will want to be fully aware of the emotions that you are experiencing like a wave crashing over you, accept that this particular feeling is only one part of who you truly are. And then, to accept this part of your reality and tolerate it. No intense emotion lasts longer than 20 - 30min. The wave always crashes at some point. So to sit in it and experience it, and not do anything you will regret later is essential to bring peace back to your home. Once you are able to increase your ability to tolerate distress, you are better able to manage the stress that comes from parenting kids from hard places.
Further Resources on DBT:
Visit their website Behavioral Tech
One of the topics I raised in this week's chapter of The Call to Love, is family meals. So I thought I should close out this week's blog with some of our recipe ideas!
So, if you are interested in the Cider-Brined Turkey recipe I mentioned I cook each year for Canadian Thanksgiving, please check it out on Epicurious.
Seriously, delicious. This is a shot from Canadian Thanksgiving 2016 when I cooked two 16 lb turkeys. (Couldn't find a store in our American town with a large enough bird in October, so I had to buy two smaller ones to feed my crowd).
Many of you have asked what butter tarts are, so I am including my version of the butter tarts I serve each Thanksgiving. I don't claim they are the best, and I will freely admit, I take some short cuts. Martha Stewart I am not. But these are really nice after a turkey dinner.
When I make the butter tarts it’s a combination of a couple of different recipes that I have played around with over time that now looks a bit like this. I think this will make about a dozen tarts.
4 Pie crusts (They usually come two to a package)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup raisins (Optional)
In bowl, whisk together brown sugar, corn syrup, egg, butter, vanilla, vinegar and salt until blended; set aside.
On lightly floured surface, gently roll out pie crust. It isn’t easy as it often sticks together so be careful. Using 4-inch (10 cm) round cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles. Place each circle into the cups of your muffin pan.
Spoon in filling until about two thirds full. It’s better for them to be less full than too much or they will spill over and burn.
Bake in bottom third of 400 F oven until filling is puffed and bubbly and pastry is golden, about 15 minutes.
Let stand on rack for 1 minute. Run a metal butter knife around tarts to loosen; carefully transfer tarts to rack to let cool.
And then, I only think it is fair to also include the recipe for Roy's Enchiladas that I mentioned in this chapter. If you need to get your tribe around the table, this recipe is a winner!
Makes 8 servings
3 lb cooked roast chicken
2 lb tomatillos (about 16), husked
4 serrano chiles (optional - I cannot handle any heat, but my kids will soak their food in hot sauce)
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup nonfat sour cream / greek yogurt
16 corn tortillas (6" each)
3 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Pull meat from bones; shred; set aside.
Place tomatillos and chiles in a saucepan; cover with water; boil over medium-high heat 8 minutes.
Transfer to a blender; add garlic and cilantro; blend until smooth.
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add tomatillo-chile puree; reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring constantly, 10 minutes or until sauce reduces to about 2 cups. Reduce heat, add salt and sour cream. Stir about 1 minute. Set aside.
Warm tortillas (10 seconds per side in a hot skillet or 20 seconds each in the microwave).
Divide shredded chicken evenly among tortillas; and roll them up.
Spread 1/4 of the sauce in a 9" baking dish, repeat in a second baking dish. Arrange enchiladas in 1 layer, seam side down. Cover with rest of sauce; sprinkle with cheese.
Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.
Serve immediately to a family actually sitting on the table excited to eat dinner. Roy & I top it with greek yogurt, the kids prefer sour cream, ... despite never having tried the yogurt.
The bottom line is, we are all doing our best with what is going on in our house each and every day. I hope the few ideas I have brought to your mind this week are helpful. If it brings up anything you'd like to discuss further, as always, let's chat! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org