I recently learned about a powerful relationship strategy to promote healthy communication. This strategy, called repair, was developed by clinical psychologist Dr. Becky Kennedy, named “The Millennial Parenting Whisperer” by Time Magazine. She is a bestselling author and hosts a popular podcast called Good Inside with Dr. Becky. If you haven’t heard of her, check her out.

The concept of repair is about returning to the moment when conflict occurred, taking responsibility for your behavior and acknowledging the impact it had on someone else. Dr Becky calls this the single most important parenting strategy for family wellness.

In order to implement this strategy we need to consider our experiences with our children as ever-changing stories. This resonates with me as someone who constantly changes my story and how I relate to my children. This strategy gives me permission to make mistakes in the way I communicate, knowing that I have the ability to go back and own them.

Let me share a real-life example. My husband, daughter, son and I were together recently for a week. Naturally, there were joys and challenges. Something that I did really well was to stay out of conflict between my kids and allow them to figure it out. However, after some escalation between them, I attempted to end the evening on a peaceful note by modeling healthy communication. I told them I had come on this trip with no expectations. Additionally, I had considered how I wanted to show up for myself and for them. One of my kids appreciated that I had opened the door, but the other one completely shut down.

Consequently, there was more escalation. My intention backfired. My husband told me my timing wasn’t good and he was right. I cleaned that up and did some repair with him after our kids left the room.

As you probably know, nothing gets solved at 10:30 pm. The next day I thought about my motivation and realized I needed to do some repair. Let’s be clear: I didn’t need to just apologize. The concept of repair goes way beyond apologizing. I needed to sit in my uncomfortable feelings longer and work on accepting that the tenuous relationship between my kids would not change right now. I needed to own that my timing could have been better. The beautiful thing is that I was able to show up with compassion and have meaningful
conversations with both of them.

February is family wellness month in our vibrant OPLM community and I am embracing ways to be healthier as a family, especially in terms of healthy communication. Sometimes that means setting better boundaries and ending phone conversations on my terms. Sometimes that means using my attuned listening skills even when it’s difficult. Sometimes that means hugging one or both of my kids for as long as they need. It also means continuing to deepen my connection as a parent who can love and support no matter what my kids choose to do.

This past year has included a lot of repair for me. I have had to repair my relationship with myself first in order to show up with love and grace for my loved ones. One thing that has been consistent is the way you all show up for Other Parents Like Me.

Hosting meetings and spending time getting to know you all continues to be a bright spot in my life. Come join me at our weekly Moms Gratitude Connection, Trauma Informed Yoga, or our Women’s Support Group. I am filled with gratitude to get to spend time with all of you on this continuous and beautiful journey.