One of the hardest things as parents is feeling helpless when we know our child has to come into contact with another adult who may not be caring for them the way you would like them to be treated not the best or just not the best influence. You could find yourself in a situation like this, for example: you may be divorced and your child can spend the weekends with his other parent. You might be concerned about how much time your child will spend with them. And maybe you’re wondering what you can do to help your child feel strong, loved, and protected.
In our latest episode on the Everyday Strong podcast, we spoke to Kelli Stout, a therapist at the Children’s Justice Center in downtown Provo, where she supports survivors of child abuse. In this episode, she gives us ideas for making our home a safe haven, for validating our children’s right to safety, and for what is most important to do in our relationship with our children.
The first thing to know is that it is normal to become protective and nervous in this kind of situation where another adult might not act as we would like with our children. She also explained how we often can’t control what other people think, do or feel – we can only control ourselves. Putting our energy into our relationship with our children is the best work we can do.
It is still essential to try not to harm the relationship that our children have with the other adults in their lives. That being said, we can always teach our children to set boundaries, not just in this situation, but with everyone. We are used to teaching our children to obey what adults say. While that’s a good thing, we can also teach them that it’s okay to express when someone else is doing something that makes them feel uncomfortable, upset, or sad.
To help our children feel comfortable expressing themselves and setting boundaries, we can start practicing at home by letting them know that they are in a safe place to do so, a place where they will be heard. . One way to do this is to make room in our lives for times when children know they can talk openly with us.
For example, while you’re in the car to and from school, you can create a tradition where you get an ice cream and talk to them. You don’t always have to talk about serious things. Most of the time, you’ll probably be talking about simple things like how their day goes.
When you start having these interactions with your children, you will be more connected to them. You will see their confidence increase. Their ability to set boundaries and express themselves will improve. They will notice how when things or relationships in their life are not ideal, they have you. They have someone who makes them feel safe, who teaches them that there is something better and that they deserve it.