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Finding our Way out of Mean, Weak, and Gone

Let’s face it. Sometimes being a parent is just plain hard. During a recent COSP group when we were discussing Mean, Weak, and Gone, I listened to a mom as she shared a struggle in her home that got everyone involved. Dad was trying to teach his eight-year old son how to throw a baseball, and the son was struggling with learning the skill. Both were getting very frustrated and, no surprise, the son threw down his glove. Dad yelled at him to pick it up. The son refused. Dad yelled again to pick up the glove. The son again refused. Dad yelled louder. The son stormed off. At this point Mom decided to step in. She was quite upset with her husband for yelling and getting mean with their son, and she started yelling at him to knock it off.

“Why do you have to be such a jerk? Go apologize.” Dad refused. There are different ways to make sense of this scenario. If we use the Circle of Security, we see the child’s acting out as a call for help. Where is the child on the Circle? Bottom. What is the need? Organize my feelings. We then use the Circle to focus on Dad stepping off the Circle. What was happening for Dad? Shark Music. Instead of seeing his son’s behavior as communication of a need, he was seeing his son as the problem. He then listened to his Shark Music, took his hands off the Circle and turned to Mean. This caused a rupture with his son.

The Mom then began to see how she was mad at her husband for being Mean to their son, but then what did she do? She turned around and responded exactly the same way? She too, got Mean. But Mom was trying to help. How does this happen? How does she also turn to mean? Shark Music. Mom stepped off the Circle and was no longer able to see the need. This is where an opportunity for mom to reflect was helpful. Once again we used the Circle. Where was her husband on the Circle? Bottom. What was the need? Organize my feelings. Mom then recognized the need in her husband for kindness, compassion, and understanding of his frustration, so that he could then organize his feelings and be the Hands for their son and meet the need. Being in the presence of Mean, Weak, and Gone can leave us feeling empty, upset, and feeling all alone. Being met with kindness, compassion, and understanding helps to fill us with love, confidence, and possibilities. In the same way, when we see our children’s behavior as communication of a need, we can find empathy. Through empathy we find caring ways to help.