Christians work at getting unstuck

When a child balks at a parent’s demand, a predictable chain of events can occur. We up the ante, voices get raised and consequences made more…

When a child balks at a parent’s demand, a predictable chain of events can occur.

We up the ante, voices get raised and consequences made more severe.

“ When kids feel pushed and pulled at, they instinctively resist,” says Dr. Gordon Neufeld, a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist.

Heels get dug in on both sides.

In mapping out the “drama of the stuck child” Neufeld points out that “there is something about the chronic resistance of a child that gets us stuck in chronic persistence as an adult.”

A ‘counterwill’ dynamic sets in that can lead to “escalating cycles of coercion and resistance that wear and tear on the relationship.”

“If the cycle is not broken, the relationship will inevitably rupture, destroying the only context we have for parenting or teaching,” Neufeld says.

Neufeld will argue that this tragedy is preventable at a day-long workshop on Children and Attachments for judges and lawyers this Thursday in Whitehorse.

I hear he will be back again in June for a week long intensive course on his methodology as well.

Nobody likes sensing that they are being pushed around, whether it is in the workplace, a classroom or at home.

With children, Neufeld offers a three-prong strategy: enhance the attachment or relationship with the child, reduce coercion and enhance the emergence of child’s awareness of their own will.

Among his notes on reducing coercion Neufeld urges us to “refrain from using a commanding or prescriptive manner” or “from pushing the child’s face into the shoulds, the musts and the have tos.”

Another point he emphasizes is “back off until you get a better attachment hold” or let the tension ease then “attempt to get a better connection before trying again.”

The beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an annual landmark of the global Christian ecumenical movement’s year since 1908, will be celebrated at the Trinity Lutheran Church at Fourth and Strickland on January 15th at 4:30 p.m.

This year’s theme, “Where two or three are gathered in my name,” invokes the promise of Jesus in Matthew 18:20 that when Christians gather, “I am there among them.”

However, while all are certainly welcome, it is likely that a fair number of local Christian congregations will not be represented.

How do you get the relationship between local churches unstuck?

Some of Neufeld’s prescriptions might be worthy of consideration.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and representatives of the World Council of Churches oversee the development of the theme and supporting materials each year.

Churches in Ireland had the direct responsibility of preparing this year’s materials.

The rich spiritual heritage of Ireland with roots in ancient Christianity links it to all Christian traditions.

The Irish certainly know how Christian churches can be caught up and ensnared in the conflicts and tensions, which have shaped Irish life in past centuries.

Christian divisions deepened the wounds there. But over the past 25 years much has happened to decrease the level of violence, to heal sectarian rifts and increase the hope of peace in Ireland.

The Irish framers of the 2006 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity “wished to draw attention to Jesus as the source of our unity, emphasizing that he has already shown us the way to be instruments of the unity which God desires for us,” said Sr. Lorelei F. Fuchs, SA in a brief web article on this week’s activities in the United States.

“Secondly, while hopes often rise and fall in relation to larger gestures and initiatives for peace, the members of the source group wished to draw attention to the simplicity of two or three coming together in Christian mutual love as a vital means of building up relations between divided peoples and communities.

“It is often the case that small gatherings, local relations and friendships can have a powerful impetus in creating a spirit of peace and reconciliation.”

January 15th  marks Rev. Martin Luther King’ Jr.’s 77th birthday. Father William Judge, the ‘Saint of the Yukon’, died 107 years ago on Monday, January 16th in Dawson City.

Both these men faced enormous challenges. They did not let sectarian divides stop them; they overcame them in pursuit of the greater good.