Nadine Diefenbacher serves as a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in trauma and abuse issues with Linder Psychiatric in Folsom and Roseville. She offers insights for the modern parent dealing with children who are acting out, hostile or withdrawn. She derives her wisdom from over 10 years of professional experience working with foster and adopted youth and 30 years of personal experience as biological and adoptive mother.
A mom of five ranging in ages from 18 to 30, Diefenbacher and her husband adopted four young children after their first child was born. “In my experience with youth in foster care and in adoptive situations is that by the time they arrive in a loving home, they are traumatized and they try to prove what they believe,” she said. “They believe they are not worthy and try to get kicked out by acting out.” According to Diefenbacher the most important thing a loving parent or guardian can do when a child is acting out is to not respond with more emotion. “Do not take it personally,” she said. “They don’t recognize you. What they see is you in the role they associate with a history of bad experiences.”
Diefenbacher’s expertise and personal experience reinforces a guiding principle for the modern family: how we choose to react to how others are reacting to circumstances (in the social network and in the flesh) will contribute to or disturb the peace; and moreover, the bonding and/or healing we seek for our family cannot transpire when we are contributing to a vicious cycle of drama and unrest.
Taming emotion is an essential life skill
According to Daniel Romer in a recent on-line article in the Oxford University Press, the concerns about social media and internet connectivity negatively impacting youth are a replay of age-old concerns that can be traced to Socrates who reportedly didn’t want kids to learn how to write lest it hinder their memory skills. And while he acknowledges the potential for addiction with video games, there remains still unexamined but a critical concern that children in the age of internet connectivity are at risk of dealing with trauma in the realm of heart and mind unlike that of previous generations.
For the modern parent it is helpful to consider that the childhoods of kids today are informing them radically differently than that of our own. Mobile connectivity is a game changer for being a kid and for parenting in that kids are exposed to adult issues of power and control (addiction, bullying and commercial and sexual exploitation) at much earlier ages, and with intensity that can be hard to fathom no matter how much we monitor and communicate with our digital natives.
Hence the most important thing a parent can do in governing a cyber-powered home is tame emotion and be very mindful about your own emotional response to what is happening with your child. When we are not fearful, when we are not judging, but sincerely confident, open-minded and interested in learning from our child how their childhood is informing them, it is possible to bond by helping your child to recognize and put aside untruth when it disturbs the peace.
For more about creating a family culture rooted in truth, go to:
- A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media.
- Fresh Start for household executives