Parents, Give Them GEMS!
There appears to be a spate of complaints from children
who are brought to counselling.
Some sample responses: “Daddy didn’t take me; didn’t even touch me, but he (her older brother) was always with Dad, playing and all”!
“Mom always sides with my sister; she can get away with anything”!
Parents are quite familiar with such complaints, and the list is endless. These comments point to a significant factor in parenting, parent-child bonding.
Parents find it increasingly difficult to pay attention to children’s needs, especially emotional needs. And without proper emotional bonding, parents lack legitimate authority and moral power to steer their wards through the developmental stages of life with all the challenges involved.
It is not how much you loved your child, but how much that child remembers such love. That is important In order to address this significant and far-reaching parenting skill; I suggest a tool that has been proven to be very effective. It is called GEMs, the Genuine Encounter Moments.
GEMs are moments that parents share with their children; willingly, consciously and joyfully. They may be short as a pat on the back or as long as a picnic, or a long vacation. I have been using GEMs not only to foster emotional bond between parents and children but also to cure ruptured emotional bonds. The following real life story illustrates how one can make use of GEMs to heal broken emotional bonds.
Alex, a fifteen year old boy, attends a city school, hangs out with friends, occasionally picks up fight with mom and dad. Alex has an older brother and a younger sister. His parents are quite loving and give Alex a lot of freedom. However, of late, Alex is doing poor in studies, misses classes, and the family relations are strained,the father-son duo engage in verbal duel, sometimes ending up in physical violence. Alex was brought to counselling as a sequel to one such fight in which he threatened suicide.
From the outset it was evident that there was trust deficit between the father and the son. On enquiry, it was made clear that the father had been abroad for the last ten years. Alex also raises the question,” Where were you all these years when I needed you most?”
It is at this juncture that we began to dig in for GEMs in the father-son relational history. In many instances, the early loss of parents re-emerges later on as anger, vengefulness, etc. Alex’s case was one such instance. Fortunately, we found some significant GEMs from the early childhood of Alex.
One such moment was visiting family and friends with Dad. “It was like a festive season when Dad arrived!” “I enjoyed riding with Dad, shopping, going to movies, etc”.
One particular memory about the airport was gem of a
moment. Just before departure, Dad would buy his son a cup of ice cream, and he
would lick it up with Daddy. Daddy’s version was that the ice cream momentarily distracted his son from Dad’s impending departure. “The
memory of having an ice cream at the airport with Daddy was nostalgic”, Alex
later recounted. These and similar GEMs were dug out and were made use of in the process of rapprochement.
In addition, we also made use of the photo albums of the family, very effectively and productively. Another resource for reconstructing childhood memories was mother’s memory, and her recounting the positive, affectionate memoirs about Dad which was quite convincing and effective. This is a clear case of effective use of GEMs in reconnecting the ruptured emotional bond of father-son.
P.S.: Parents, make genuine encounter moments a way of life, spend quality time with your little ones, make record of such precious moments, keep updating. GEMs will be precious and useful resources in cementing your relations, when you will need it most.