Throughout my NVR journey, I’ve been intrigued by how the power of the imagination can support my parenting. Can I reimagine my position as a parent and see the connection with my child strengthened?I’m curious and with the support of our NVR practitioner, have begun to explore some simple imaginary techniques.
Recalling a happy or peaceful time with my child after a challenging episode reminds me that life is not always difficult. It helps to ease a way through and aid recovery and rebalance following times of conflict and disruption. Holding onto the sense that, this too will pass.
Thinking forwards to mentally rehearse a future interaction that I anticipate might be difficult enables me to approach that moment with greater confidence. By slowing down this interaction or conversation I can give attention to how I will respond, my words, body language and facial expression. Somehow this process creates a sense of purpose within me and sets an intention about how I want to connect with my child and how I want them to see me as the parent.
One of the ways I found this technique helpful was during the spring lockdown when picking up my child from school was particularly challenging.
Imagine the scene…
Each day as Mum collects her son from school, he would be unable to contain his emotion and the moment he was out of the school gate he would make a demand of her. This would often be followed by a tug at her arm then a hit or a punch. As they make their way along the pavement, he would walk into her propelling her towards the wall or into parked cars. Never holding hands. She walked fast to shorten the distance from school to car to home. Day after day the behaviour repeated. She’d come to expect it, and had maybe even normalised it as part of her experience as the mum doing the school run.
Let’s reimagine this scenario, slowing it down and visualising what a smooth school pick up would look like…
Preparation begins at home where Mum sits and breathes, gathering herself just for a few minutes. Tea is already prepared and the house tidy-ish to ease the transition back into home. Mindful every step of the journey, she leaves the house and drives the short distance to school. She resists the temptation to look at her phone whilst standing in the queue waiting for the gates to open, instead remaining focussed on her breath and being aware of the sights and sounds – the wind in the trees, voices chatting, cars passing and the strange quietness of lockdown. Mum is calm and focussed, ready to greet her son.
As he appears from the classroom, she walks towards him, bending down to greet him and lightly placing her arm around his shoulder. She offers him her hand and he holds it. Together they walk out of the school gate, find the car and return home peacefully.
The latter is the mental picture of how I wanted the school pick up to be. Having realised the status quo of being hit was no longer acceptable I had to take action and redouble my efforts to change my position as parent. Each day for several weeks I took a moment to image the school run and gather my strength in preparation. This practice helped me to ground myself and remain calm even if my child wasn’t able to. Gradually, the school pick up improved and our connection repaired. Now, more often than not we hold hands as we leave school and I remind myself, that it wasn’t always this way.
The pictures began as a series of art journal ideas and then, together with a graphic designer friend we brought the ideas to life creating these original images.
Words & Pictures by: NVR Mum – Hampshire