When you are reading this article, I am already in the south of France, on a campground with my kids. Spring here is somewhat warmer and sunnier than in Switzerland and while Benny stayed behind for his job, our four kids and I enjoy our tent holidays near the Mediteran Sea.
How Maria was blown away by an experts advice
In today’s article I’d like to share an experience with you.
I have a good friend, a sweet, brilliant and beautiful lady, let’s call her Maria.
Maria and I were talking about the difficulties she had with her 8year old girl; that girl was out of control. Always responding, never obeying, provoking her mother till she was crying. She never followed her mother’s directives, talked back at every occasion.
Maria knew well that her daughter was still struggling with her past.
In fact, she has a past where shewas regularly beaten up with a belt since she was about 18 months old. When Maria wanted to stop the beatings, her husband pushed her away and gave some more beatings to the child. Therefore, Maria didn’t intervene any more… until the day she took her child, left her abusive husband and never went back.
Heinz Etter is a Swiss educator who, for many years, worked as a teacher, as a therapeutic educator and as the director of a boarding school for adolescents with behavioral problems.
I told Maria about him and she agreed to meet him… knowing that she needed urgent help in her relationship with her daughter.
We met on Skype, Maria, Heinz and I, everyone from their homes..
Maria and Heinz talked for about 30 minutes. I had the privilege to listen and observe.
After that half hour, the time was over. Maria was astonished. Her whole world had just been turned upside down. Her whole reality was shaken and her hope returned. She felt like a new world had just opened up before her
Even though Heinz knew only slightly more about her situation than I told you here, his understanding of her daughter’s situation and his practical advices were mind blowing to her – as well as to me.
Heinz asked her to explain a little more about her daily struggles with her daughter.
“My daughter never complies to what I tell her, she talks back, she’s continually unhappy with what I do, what I tell her, or with the meals I prepare. She provokes me and doesn’t follow any of my orders or advices. She does whatever she wants”. I don’t feel like a mother, but rather like the servant of my daughter.”
Heinz: “Tell me a precise situation.”
Maria: “Well, for example, in the mornings. She doesn’t listen to me if I tell her to put on something warm because it’s cold outside. Or to hurry up because she needs to go to school. Or to come and eat breakfast. She never wants to eat what I prepare for her. She’s always unhappy and complaining about anything I do, rejecting my advices and orders.”
“Ok, listen to me. Your daughter had a life where she couldn’t trust you as parents. Not her dad. Not you. Therefore, she decided that she will be on top in the relationship. She will take over that dominant role, the “strong alpha”. You became her “daughter”. She would never be able to tell you this, as this happens in the unconscious mind. But that’s what happened. Therefore, when you don’t do the things she tells you to do, or when you give her orders, when you expect something from her, she literally feels like a mother with a child that doesn’t obey. That’s why she’s always unhappy and complaining about anything you do. Right now, you can’t be her mother, even though you are her biological mother. She’s not accepting you in that role. Therefore, don’t try to even be her mother. Stop trying to give her advices. Don’t tell her what to do. Don’t give her any orders. The important thing now is that you can reverse that situation, back to its original design, where you are the “strong alpha”, where you are in that dominant role, in your natural role as mother.”
Maria’s eyes went big. You could literally see her face lighten up, see that she understood what he was talking about.
“So what can I do to reverse that situation?”
“In the mornings, cheerfully enter her room, put a chocolate heart or something she likes on her clothes, then sit on her bed, welcome her into this new day. You pray for her, bless her…. Then you get up, telling her that you prepared breakfast for the two of you. As example: Yoghurt and Cereals. If she tells you that she doesn’t want to eat that, you stay relaxed, telling her that’s ok, but you prepared that and you are going to eat yoghurt and cereals. She’s invited to join you. Then sit down, happily eat your breakfast, thankful that you have enough to eat, a place to live – and let your child do what it wants. If she wants to go to school hungry, don’t intervene. If she wants to eat something else, let her eat something else. But you don’t get up to prepare it for your child.
The same goes for lunch. Cook some lunch for you and your daughter. Then invite her to join you, sit down and eat… happily and relaxed.
She has to see that her emotions, nagging or complaining don’t affect you. She has to see that you are happy with what you made for lunch, thankful for this food… and stay calm and content no matter how she’s complaining.
Does it make sense to you?
It made a lot of sense to her. Feelings of relief, hope and expectation rose up in her heart. Having those practical guidelines, she felt able to follow, made her look forward to apply them to her child.
Two days later we talked on the phone, and Maria was so amazed.
She did exactly how Heinz said. And from the first day on, she experienced a huge difference.
The attitude of her girl changed dramatically.
From day one there was contentment and a relaxed attitude in the behavior of her girl.
Instantly, there was something to build a new foundation on.
Her girl loved the fact that Maria was there to welcome her into her day, to bless her and to tell her what she had prepared for breakfast, without getting angry or upset by what she answered.
She cherished this peace, this relaxed attitude of her mother.
Heinz will continue to help her in her journey to reverse that dynamic, to become that mother, whom her daughter will dare to trust in, rely to and submit to.
Heinz Etter is a primary and secondary school teacher, and a therapeutic pedagogue (HfH) since 2004. I attended one of his seminaries a few years ago, after my sister gave me his book “Raising children with trust”, for Christmas.
I know from several families who experienced dramatic changes by applying this approach.
Pedagogy of trust shows a plausible and, especially for Christians, immediately understandable alternative to behavior-oriented pedagogical approaches.
This book is available in English.
If you are interested to get your copy of that book, you can do that here..