So, I've been thinking.  At this point in the conversation, my husband usually rubs his forehead and says "Oh, no" with resignation.

This time, I think I'm really onto something.  Reality television is very popular, so I hear.  I don't have a television in my house that has access to a signal to receive such shows, but I have heard that reality shows are popular.  So, I've come up with a reality show of my own.  I'd like you to participate.  And, no.....  you do not have to eat a scorpion.  However, the results of your participation may be just as distasteful, but hopefully, more productive in the long run.

Go right now and get a journal.  Call it your "Reality Journal".  I'll wait.

Oh, good.  You're back.  Now.  Here's the challenge.  I'm going to pose a series of questions for you over the next few months for you to consider.  You don't actually have to show anyone what you are up to if you don't want to.  This is just for your eyes only.  This is YOUR REALITY.  

Find a moment of peace and quiet.  I have three children, so I know that you will have to work hard to find this peace and quiet.  But, please do make the effort.  

Imagine being one of your children for a moment.  Think about this child.  Think about being this child at various ages.  Think about this child's personality, their demeanor, their vocabulary.  Think about how your child sees the world.  Be this child for a few moments.  Imagine sitting in a classroom, or in a group setting of some sort.  Imagine being your child and having someone ask one question. 

How do you describe your parents' relationship with each other?

Imagine being your child receiving this question.  Think about this for a little while and then either draw a picture or start writing in your "Reality Journal" as if you were describing what you see through the eyes of your child.   

Hmmmmm....   maybe eating a scorpion would have been easier and tastier.

Is your answer like this:   "Argumentative".    "Conflicted".  "Hateful".  "They don't really like each other very much".  "Angry".  "Stressed".

Or, is your answer more like this:   "Tolerant, cold and distant".  "They never talk".  "I don't know".

If you are lucky, your answer might be this:  "Great friends". "Loving and caring". "They enjoy each other".  "Funloving".  "Adoring".

Regardless of what you, the adult, thinks, it's a good idea for you to stop the runaway train of your life every now and then and think about what your child is seeing and experiencing.  

You know that the child in your home is like a sponge....  absorbing every bit of sensory information and experience that comes his/her way.  You as the parent, sets the tone in the home for this child.  At the very core of this family you have created is the relationship between the child's mother and father (whether you are living together or not).  A child's parents' relationship is the most critical component of the child's sense of self, security and adjustment.  The child watches the parents to understand life.  The child learns what is acceptable in a relationship and what is not acceptable based on how the parents handle conflict.  The child learns how to disagree respectfully and come to solutions by watching the parents.  Your child forms opinions about themselves, the family, the community, the world by watching and listening to the parents.  Your role as a team is extremely important.  Do it well.

Remember......  Now that you have a child in your life, your life is no longer all about you.  You have to keep yourself healthy emotionally in order to provide a good role model, demonstrate your values and morals and guide your child to know how to communicate effectively, behave responsibly and love passionately.  Part of keeping yourself healthy is continually working on your partnership with your child's other parent.  If the center of the family, the adults, are stable, healthy and demonstrating love, patience and understanding, your children will thrive by the example you are providing.

So, what have you decided to do with your written responses?  Yes... I think it's a good idea to share your answers with the other parent.  Perhaps this other person could do the journal exercise as well.  But, the rule is that there is to be no judgment of each other's answers.  No defensiveness.  No excuses.  Just use your perspectives from your experience of seeing your relationship through your child's eyes as a springboard for conversation, improvements, dedication.

Reality bites.  But, a good does of reality and perspective will help you and your family to grow and change for the better.   

Author's Bio: 

Stacey Brown is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor specializing in individual, couples and family psychotherapy, and maintains a private practice in Fort Myers, Florida.

With more than 15 years of experience as a clinician, and a graduate of the University of South Florida specializing in Solution Focused and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, she is currently serving as a private practitioner working with a broad spectrum of clients. Among her areas of expertise are: ADHD, depression and anxiety for both children and adults, grief and loss, and relationship issues.
In addition, Stacey Brown has presented at conferences and to general audiences on topics ranging from parenting, wellness, educational accommodations, teacher training, behavior management and mental health topics.

Stacey Brown is a practical, interactive, solution-focused therapist. Her treatment approach is to provide support and practical feedback to help clients resolve current problems and long-standing patterns. She incorporates a blend of conventional and alternatives approaches, drawing upon a variety of styles and techniques to incorporate what will be most helpful for each client. With sensitivity and compassion, she works with each client to help them build on their strengths to identify and achieve life goals.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Nationally Certified Counselor
Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist
Certified Anger Resolution Therapist
Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress
State Approved Clinical Supervisor
40 Barkley Circle, Suite 3
Ft. Myers, FL 33907