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This is the story of a struggling mother and son dyad, Claire and Joseph, who found help in our Mindful Parenting Group. The names have been changed, but the story and quotes are real.
By Dr. Deborah Groening-Rother
Claire joined my Mindful Parenting Group because she was struggling with her 18-month-old son, Joseph. Their first year together had been smooth and sweet, but around the time of his first birthday, their once peaceful relationship turned very rocky.
In Claire’s first group, she broke down in tears explaining how Joseph had changed.
“He bites me out of the blue! He throws his food off his highchair, and he tries to hit the dog with his toys! He probably thinks I’m a terrible mother because I yell at him all the time to stop. I just don’t know what to do!”
During her first months in the group, Claire slowly began to realize how independent her son was becoming, which was requiring her to “change her mothering ways”. He was no longer a baby but a bold toddler with ideas and plans of his own.
In the safety of the group, Claire learned that Joseph’s newly emerging independence was totally normal but causing him to feel frustration, and that his biting and throwing were his only way to express his “big feelings.” In the group she reflected on how her own early history was a factor in her child being able to trigger her so strongly. After being in the group a year, Claire had learned some important things about herself and her son.
“Because of what I’ve learned in this group, and because of how I’ve grown as a parent, I’ve deepened my relationship with my child, and my child has thrived because of it. I now have empathy for him and see him as someone who needs my help — and it’s my job as his parent to give him that help.”