0 Flares 0 Flares ×

This morning, I was rushing around packing school lunches, making breakfast, cleaning up the dishes, getting the kids dressed & gathering the papers I wanted to take to the office for the day. Pretty much a normal morning.

But then I overheard a conversation that I knew was an opportunity to teach my children about love. They were watching a video while eating their breakfast, so I started by pausing the video. {I know, I know … videos? Yeah, what of it? It makes it easier for me to get us all out the door in the morning.}

Anyway, my son being the ADHD child that he is never actually sits down to eat. Well, he’ll sit down intermittently springing up out of his chair between bites. He takes medicine for school, but at this time of the morning, the medicine hasn’t kicked in yet.

So I overheard my daughter say “Are you okay?” to her brother. And he responded with typical brotherly love, “None of your business nerd bag.”

It seems he had fallen on the floor as a result of one of his mid-bite jumping sessions. This is pretty common in our house as he has a tendency to be clumsy … a trait that many times comes along with Aspergers.

For years, I’ve heard “I’m okay” echoing from whatever room he’s fallen down in or from whatever wall he’s run into. It’s so common that now he just yells it out before I even have the chance to say my usual “Are you okay?”

In today’s case though, being that it was his sister who was expressing concern, she got the “nerd bag” response.

She was only doing what I taught her to do … express concern for another person’s feelings when something bad happens to them. But her brother’s response had the potential to prompt a relationship dynamic that would be detrimental to both of them in the future, so I stepped in.

After I paused the video, I had my son pretend to fall down again & I demonstrated physically what their words did to their relationship. He falls down. She says “Are you okay?” which I demonstrated by walking toward him with my arms open in caring. He says “None of your business nerd bag.” which I demonstrated by walking backwards as if he was pushing me away.

“She tried to express love & caring to you by saying “Are you okay?” and you pushed that love away by telling her “None of your business nerd bag.” She was trying to love you, and you pushed that love away. If you want people to love you and you want to have friends who care about you and you want to have a wife one day who loves you, you need to learn how to not push love away.”

Now it may seem ridiculous to be talking to a 6 & 9 year old in this way. And truth be told, I felt a little silly, but I did it anyway. I probably wouldn’t have done it if my son didn’t have Aspergers. I probably would have just chalked it up to brother & sisterly love … very similar to an interaction on any day of the week that my brother and I might have had when we were their ages.

But one of the typical traits of Aspergers is the inability to sense, process and express emotions that most people learn to do rather effortlessly through their experiences & interactions with other people. Many times, it results in their being excluded from groups and having problematic relationships because they literally don’t know how to interact.

So I feel an extra responsibility to teach my son how to express his feelings, how other people feel in various situations, and what appropriate responses might be.

Of course still being relatively young children, they laughed at my little demonstration & explanation. I repeated it again just for good measure … repetition helps us remember. Despite their laughter (and maybe because of it), I believe that some of it got in there and will stick.

It only took about a minute and then I unpaused the video and went back to packing lunches. But it made me think that everybody could use these lessons about relationship dynamics. Most of the problems in our relationships are caused by these types of interactions that spark reactions in the other person and then turn into a ping-pong battle of blame and accusations. Then they are repeated so often they become our habitual pattern of relating.

It’s easy to spot them in your own relationships because they show up in the conversations or exchanges that become heated or get one or both of you feeling agitated. And typically it’s the ones where we are blaming the other person for the whole situation.

But since there are always two people participating in any relationship dynamic and we can’t control someone else’s behavior, start by taking a look at your own. How are you keeping the dynamic you have with this person alive?

If you want to change this relationship, you’ve got to own your side of the dynamic. Think back to a recent argument or negative interaction and think about different ways that you could have responded that would have broken your typical pattern. And the next time you’re in a similar situation, try one of the them out.

Will it be easy? No because if you’re part of the negative dynamic, your ego is just as much a part of it as theirs is. But if you truly want to grow closer to this person, this is the path you must both take. And since you’re reading this, you get to be the leader. Lucky you!

Share your thoughts in the comments section below …

Related posts:

0 Flares Facebook 0 Twitter 0 0 Flares ×