Sunday, July 27, has been designated National Parents’ Day in the United States. Of all the roles we assume in our lives, the parenting role comes with the highest degree of importance, and, in this country at least, the lowest degree of support when we are in need. Parents are vilified when our children misbehave, praised when our children conform, and shamed when we need guidance in handling the day-to-day stresses of family life. Often times when we become parents we are expected to renounce other aspects of ourselves to such a degree that we lose sight of vital personal dreams and goals. Perhaps some parents have an easy time juggling the many expectations and requirements of what is considered to be “good” parenting in our western culture, but many of us find our parenting responsibilities overwhelming, at least some part of every day. Thankfully, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can help to release the overwhelm of parenting in the moment and after crises happen.
One way to generate the calming benefits of EFT or tapping is to begin the day with a mindful, meditative round of tapping before getting out of bed. Massaging the Heart Neurolymphatic point on the chest (sometimes called the sore spot in EFT) while imagining the day infused with loving energies can set us up to expect the best of our children as well as ourselves. When overwhelm threatens because of sudden illness, children’s squabbles, or lost/incomplete homework, we can tap into that soothing energy and ask for the space and guidance to be effective problem solvers. This, I have found, is EFT’s greatest gift to its regular users. Like meditations of all persuasions, it calms the nervous system with regular practice, creates optimism we carry into every situation, and helps us to feel and be competent – sometimes against all odds.
The crises that come with parenting – illnesses that flare with spiked temperatures, bruises and even broken bones that come with bicycles / skate boards / scooters / roller blades, and the heartache that comes with losing games, bullying, and academic humiliation – all invite us to shift more deeply into relationship with pain and relief from pain. Gentle massaging of the hands of our feverish children as we sing or read to them is one unobtrusive way of helping small bodies release the toxins that bring on fever. When wondering how or where to touch a child when feverish, it is always wise to ask them. If they complain of a headache, sometimes gently massaging the feet is a wonderful way to help to release the tension caused by a fever headache. Meridians, the inner subtle energy pathways we tap on in EFT, are in the feet, the hands, the back, the chest. Indeed, wherever we sense we can provide comfort through touch and gentle massage will bring relief, especially if the touch is accompanied by soft humming, singing, or story telling.
After such a session with a physically or emotionally suffering child, it is vitally important to bring relief to the self. Having a soothing bath with baking soda helps to cleanse the energy field and release the fears and worries we may be carrying about our child’s condition. Massaging our hands after shaking off the energies of illness helps us to feel more optimistic about our abilities to handle whatever may come. And, when stress over a situation is severe, taking a small bathroom break to tap on our specific worries helps to maintain a belief in our resourcefulness to support the child’s recovery, something our young patients will feel as deep comfort and care.
Whenever clients ask what to say during such stressful times, I always council them to speak their heart’s truth to themselves while remembering that whatever we might say to our children is non-threatening, with emphasis on the child’s value and secure place in our lives. If fear about the condition is the driver of the parent’s emotions, tapping gently while articulating one’s specific fears is the best approach: “I’m afraid of this fever. What if I can’t bring it down? What if she goes into convulsions? What if it gets worse instead of better?”
Tapping on a round of fears and worries helps us to get the negativity out of our system and out of our relationship with our child and is essential before we add the next part, which does wonders for our store of optimism: “Maybe this isn’t as bad as it seems. Maybe I’m just exhausted from getting up in the night. Maybe I can trust her immune system to bounce back. Maybe I can trust myself to notice any serious changes that require another trip to our doctor or the emergency room. Yes, I nursed her through the measles and she recovered completely. This won’t be her last bout with the flu. I’m keeping her hydrated. She seems comfortable. I think I can trust myself and the universe to help me to nurse her through this illness as well.” Following a round of tapping on fears with a round focusing on trust, guidance, and past successes provides comfort for both parent and child.
There will always be those situations that arise in our families that are so stressful they may seem to threaten our ability to hold ourselves together. When presented with these situations, we can dip into the reservoir of strength and optimism we have built over time with EFT, meditation, good whole foods, and regular physical exercise; while the deep stresses may continue to cause us concern, we can create a container for all our feelings with tapping, a container that I like to call the Resilient Self. We need a positive image to get through the really challenging situations arising during parenting, and our children need us to have them as well. Modeling wise, consistent self care helps us to avoid pharmaceutical dependence that can send signals to our children that self medicating is an acceptable way of handling stress when in reality self medication leads to addiction, poor health, and even crime.
Whenever we use EFT as parents, it is important to do so as calm, gentle, and especially mindful stewards of our children’s and our own energies. Teaching children they are energetic bodies as well as physical manifestations helps to prepare them for the realization that we all exist in a sea of energy and that our own energies positively or negatively influence others. This is, of course, a vital lesson for ourselves, as well. Our good days, whatever may be going on, become our children’s good days, and the more we have of these, the better. May we all have loving, resourceful parenting experiences throughout the year – with our biological children, our spiritual children, our dependent parents and grandparents, and ourselves.
Until next week