Although Howard Gardner is not an attachment theorist, his theory of Multiple Intelligence indicates nine different types of intellect that are useful to anyone wishing to engage with their child. This article and the two that follow will look at the different types of Intellect as they may apply to three different topics: Divorce, Separation Anxiety and Peer Pressure.
Multiple Intellects apply to us all. They are useful to understand. There are many sites on the internet with Multiple Intelligence Surveys, Inventories and Tests. Some are suited for adults, some are suited for children.
Divorce is common: it is like a fault line in our families. We stand on the cliffs edge, dealing with the discomfort of difficulties. Fault-finding, blaming others and/or the circumstance, often takes us into anger or bitterness. If we can prevent this, we may prevent traumatic experiences for ourselves and our loved ones. Otherwise the difficulty of guilt must be overstepped by remorse. We should take into account our participation in bringing circumstances to pass. Personal guilt can be dealt with by finding remorse.*
Let’s consider the difficulties and decisions that lead us into a different way of going about our cliff hanging experience. Do we scale the wall of divorce looking for a firm foundation? Do we buy the skydiving equipment to soar above blame? Do we stand on the cliff and observe the depth of fault looking for discernment.
Our children want to have positive emotions, whether they show it or not. It is our responsibility to help them rejoice and be responsible in the midst of their own feelings of blame. They deal with their emotions every time they interact. This ‘give and take’ provides for much of their understanding of life’s expectations.
What are your expectations? Get rid of disappointments. Give up control. Make responsible expectations of your child. Talk about it…every day: for example, “I expect you to be kind and honest.” Consider what hinders this. Set an example by bonding in lovely ways. Educate yourself on aspects of circumstances that you have yet to understand.
What conflict, for a little one to want his or her parents to be together. It is so natural, and right, it is offensive in a way that must feel lonely inside…or just sad. Make room for your child’s emotions: let your guilt become remorse. They are a little baby bird, sitting in a next on a cliff. They have yet to even grow feathers. Much less be expected to fly away from the expectation of a comfy home. So, whatever it takes! For example: “I’ll call you every day and hear you tell me you are mad at me, if you need to…because I want to hear your heart.” Seek peace with your x-spouse with humility. Look for wisdom from people who care about you and your child.
The way I see it: words bite or breathe. Words can be picturesque, challenging, or flowery. Concepts can hurt or heal. How do we talk to our children about divorce? Watch out that you do not dismiss their feelings or patronize them. Listen and set boundaries that will help them through. A feeling is like a rain drop: it can quench or bounce off. Quenching is when we think of their needs objectively and make changes as needed. Quenching is focusing on the positive when we speak, but not evading the truth. Quenching is protecting from additional difficulty, unless it will produce fruit needed to persevere. Bouncing off is thinking only of our needs, speaking negatively and harshly; potentially re traumatizing them.
A loss is a trauma. We should not share our negative emotions at all. When aggravated: share with a friend. When overly excited: make plans. ‘Everything Will Be Alright’ should be most every child’s theme song. Make wholehearted considerations rather than demands. Boundaries are better than bite. Safety helps us breathe easy. Relieving stress.
Does everything seem far away in the heart of a child that is not with one or the other parent. Is their concept of difficulty more dramatic? Are they at a loss in a way that hurts emotively? They have learned to let go of objects. They deal with ownership. It made sense, before.
In what way is your space friendly, caring or open? Are they at ease? Are they pressed in some way? Do they cleave to particular toys? Maybe there is another family member that needs to be included or another environment, or another family tradition to begin.
How does your child make sense of the missing parent, involve yourself in their healing? Look for credible ways, even if you still hurt. Express to everyone involved, that a peaceful dynamic is your aim. Arrange your space with considerations of their memories. Consider how to separate your needs from theirs.
Your child needs to see you. Often, they make evident what they need in their drawings. Your child’s artwork is a storyline to follow. Your child’s little world is full, but not without you. So how do you fit into their perception? Can you search and discover how they see you? Is it drawn? Draw with them. Look through their eyes. Let them lead the story.
Children need physical affection: cuddles, tumble play, and dance or exercise. There is often times when our children who are now living away from us crave to be with us. Cuddling can remind them that they are important. Our children are less likely to seek inappropriately for physical contact later in life when they get appropriate contact throughout their formative years.
What type of emotions do they express during rough and tumble play? It is so important to tune into our children’s emotive patterns. They have hurt: define it, objectify it, and resolve it. Help them be peacemakers.
Sometimes emotions are inarticulate. Children may “act-out” if not given appropriate forums to express themselves. Playing instruments is healing in a non-verbal way; a shared time at a piano, a drum or a horn is a child‘s dream come true. Sometimes words may make excuses. If you find yourself wanting to make excuses, try music. Music speaks from the heart, replacing excuses with play. The heart beat steadied. Wanting uniquely quenched. Ministered to by sound…and rhythms and beats.
It is hard to make sense of mommy and daddy not being together. If everything throughout the day at school teaches logic, why is the one system they need not together. What a difference it makes to help your child reason through their circumstance until there is at least emotive resolve. Seek advice, get input, pray. Our role, if we have a damaged relationship is to keep those who were impacted by it.
A neat desire is to be in the family vine. Suffering from being detached in some way, is not necessary. Acknowledge your child spiritually-desires you as his or her parent. They want to share thoughts with you. They want to feel known by you. They want to have shared familial memories readily available. Show care without being stressed out. What may not have happened in the marital relationship. Help them make sense at least by them knowing you think about every good time you’ve gotten to share thus far. And, that you are making more.
*See Rudolf Dreikurs idea of guilt and remorse.