Family Stress After Deployment

Dr. Markham,

I really have so many specific questions I don't even want to burden anyone with them. Instead, I'll say thank you for the positive discipline advice. Really, thank you! I stumbled on you site through a series of "google" searches and I'm devouring the information.

My family experienced an extraordinary year filled with deployments, a baby born the day my husband returned, late working hours (husband), and a move!

We have three boys and I've gone from being calm and collected to dealing with my 4 year old and 2 year old's changed behavior in an angry way. I hate how disconnected I feel from the child that I birthed and nursed (almost all 'problems' are from my 4 year old).

I absolutely lost it today. Months and months (our last tour was 18 months and we rarely had dinner with daddy) of keeping calm because I had no back up has come pouring out. I hated myself afterward. Reading around your site has helped me gain a little perspective. Thank you!

Thank you for writing. I am so glad to know that my website and daily emails have made a difference in your life.

Any mom with three boys is bound to lose it once in a while. We don't have to be perfect parents. We just have to use these opportunities to realize when we are off-course, and find ways to start moving in the right direction.

If you can use this opportunity to realize that you need to make some changes, then it losing it will have been worth it. What kinds of changes? I don't know enough about your situation to know everything, but I know these two things for certain:

1. You need a break. That means you need some time to yourself on a regular basis. You need someone who will listen with love and without judgment while you talk, and rant, and cry, and unburden yourself of all these months of stress. You need some serious nurturing. You might have a good friend, or even your husband, who can serve as your "listener", or you might want to consider some short-term parenting coaching, just to process all the stress you have weathered.

2. You and your four year old desperately need to reconnect.
Blowing up at him won't help him behave, because his misbehavior is coming from something inside him that needs healing. He feels that disconnection as acutely as you do, even if he can't put his finger on exactly what's wrong. For a child, that disconnection is a constant worry about whether he is good enough; it may even feel life-threatening. Naturally he acts out. He needs one-on-one time with you every single day, without fail, in which you help him to feel seen, accepted, and unconditionally loved. Of course, that means that you will need to spend time with your other boys also. I would recommend twenty minutes per child, and spreading it out throughout the day so you can stay "fresh" with each child. If you need ideas about how to "be" with your children during that "one-on-one" time, please let me know.

Please keep me in touch with how things are going for you.

Blessings,
Dr. Laura

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

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