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Updated on September 18, 2010


Welcome to the series, AT HOME WITH MY EMOTIONS. This is number 4 in a series of probably seven blogs when complete. These blogs are part of a continuing education class for foster parents which I am presenting at San Bernardino Valley College on Tuesday and Friday mornings through September 24. If you live nearby and are interested in attending, email me. If you live far away, I think there may be some cheap flights available!! Love to have you in class!

You might want to check out the previous blogs, and here are the links

Today we zero in on being at home with feeling small and feeling weak.


Now, remember, we are first and foremost talking about us, the BIG people, being at home with feeling small and weak. It is only then that we can be at home with these same feelings in foster children. And you can easily tell by all the acting out they do, that they, in fact, feel small and weak a great deal of the time.


Remember too, we promised to work on not minimizing. So when we catch ourselves saying, "Well, I don’t really feel small, it’s just that no one ever listens to what I have to say, " we are going to fess up and say, "Yeah, I’m feeling small, dismissed, weak!"

Or "I wasn’t really feeling small. I mean I was really tired, I’m taking blood pressure medication, and no, I wasn’t able to perform the way I wished I could have." Yeah, right, not feeling small. You were feeling small, Dude!

So for the sake of our learning, we are not going to minimize the intensity or magnitude of our emotional experiences. If we can learn to do that for ourselves, we will also be able to avoid minimizing the intensity and magnitude of our foster childrens’ emotional experiences.


So to start, jot down the times in your present life where you feel small, dismissed, and weak.

*I feel small when my spouse chews me out like I am a little kid.

*I feel small when my boss tells me never to be late again. I have put in more overtime than anybody in that company, including himself!

*I feel small when friends tell me that I don’t have it like I used to.

*I feel really dismissed when after we make love, my partner gets up and watches television.

*I feel really dismissed when someone to whom I am talking, just begins talking to someone else as if they had never been talking to me in the first place.

*I feel small, dismissed, and weak, when I am the next person in line at Starbucks, and they wait on the person behind me. How does that happen. Am I invisible?

*I feel weak when my teenagers challenges me and I don’t know how to respond.

*I feel weak when my partner tells me I cannot use the car, use the check book, the credit card, the Disneyland Pass.


*I felt small when my brother beat me up all the time.

*I felt small when my parents admired anything my brother did, but literally laughed at any project I attempted.

*I felt dismissed after I raised my hand and answered the teacher’s question and she said, "what does that have to do with our class discussion?"

*I felt weak when I could not say No to........

*I felt weak when I could not stand up for myself, day after day, with......

*I felt very weak when I could not stop_____from sexually abusing me. And to make matters worse, it was the only affection I was receiving from anyone.

*I felt weak when bigger kids forced me to give them money.......

*I felt weak when I could not punch my way out of a fight or an attack.

*I felt small and weak when I ran for fifty yards to score the last touchdown of the game and the coach said to me, "Why couldn’t you have run like that for the entire game, so we could have won?"

Try to be as honest as you can be. I know what you write down may trigger incredible pain, and the examples I gave, as awful as some of them are, may be very very pale in comparison. I remember a young man, twenty two, telling me that he just could not get it out of his head that his mother would burn him with a hot iron. And so some of you may have things to write down, but they are pale in comparison, so you conclude they are meaningless. They are not. They are as painful and as disruptive to your life as the young man’s.

Once you allow yourself to soak in these painful experiences, and then have the courage to share them with someone else, you will, little by little, become prepared to have healing conversations with your foster children about their emotions.


And, if you find yourself really triggered, consider calling someone like myself. Spend a few bucks on yourself working through the pain. We go to urgent care, we consider having a huge deductible to save money on insurance, we spend exorbitant amounts of money taking care of our car, we spend loads of money on clothing and even a nice evening out, so consider spending a few dollars getting some soothing and some healing for emotional experiences you thought you were able to bury, but obviously, they are not buried, amd maybe have buried a part of you.


And so once you are at home with these emotions, you can have these kinds of conversations with the children in your care.

"I see a look on your face. What is it? What do you want me to know about you right now? Well, I am imagining something happened today that made you feel small or weak. Am I right?

"Wow, you were so excited before the visit. Now you seem really down in the dumps. Tell me about it.......So when you are with Mom/Dad, you feel small, weak?"

"You seem scared to death to go to school in the morning. Am I getting it? So tell me about it?

I am imagining that the teacher or the kids make you feel small. Am I getting it?

"I watched you with Mom/Dad yesterday. I saw you trying to tell Mom/Dad about your school work and they changed the subject. I felt really awful for you. What was it like for you?

"I saw you working really hard to ignore Billy the other day and he just kept pounding on you. I am sorry I wasn’t there sooner to put a stop to the whole thing. Why didn’t you hit him back?

(The point is not that he should hit him back. But why he didn’t?)

"So you raised your hand and shared with the class and then the teacher acted as if she didn’t know why you were sharing and the class laughed. Wow, that’s got to be one of the most awfullest experiences a person can have."

These, of course, are just samples. Spend some time coming up with your own. Notice the flavor of the above examples. There is no intent to teach any lessons, life lessons or otherwise. There is no attempt to change the child’s perception of their experience. There is no agenda to help the child take responsibility for setting themselves up, and so on and so on. The only purpose of these statements is to let the child know that you get what is going on for him or her at this very moment.

If necessary, you can always go back LATER and invite the child to look at whatever life lesson there is, or to support the child in taking responsibility for everything that is going on in his or her life. At this moment, your "job" is to be a connecting point.


Now here is the kicker, that I saved for last. When do you feel small, dismissed, and weak in your interactions with your foster children? POWERLESS? And why? What is going on that their response to you can trigger such emotions inside of you and where in your adult relationships are you not taking care of business? Where are you not standing on YOUR two feet? Where are you NOT fighting back? And the answer to those questions might be even more important than whatever healing you might deserve from those past events that you remembered above.

So we have our work cut out for us in today’s class and in our lives today.



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