Thursday, November 17, 2011


We've been practicing some "holding therapy" at our house lately.  Holding therapy has its critics, so let me add the disclaimer that I am writing only as a a parent to whom this came somewhat intuitively.  For us it simply means that I hold Shu tightly, only in specific appropriate contexts, rather than letting him cry or tantrum on the floor or alone in his room.  To put it mildly, he isn't a big fan.  (He isn't a big fan of a lot of things, such as doing what his physical therapist asks him to do or going to bed when he'd rather play, so he's not getting a vote on this one.)

I held him earlier today during one such episode.  There was a time not so long ago when I absolutely did not have the grace to do so, certainly not without internalizing much of his emotion in a very negative way.  As God is perfecting his love in me, I am increasingly able to pour it out on my son with fresh grace and with authenticity.  In other words, if given the choice, I'd rather not "fake it 'til I make it," you know?

Twenty-some minutes later, the screams and cries became the gasping, hiccupy breaths of a post-tantrum child, his head resting on my chest.  With a face still dripping with tears, he raised his eyes to mine and smiled.

Lather, rinse, repeat eight minutes later when my telling him no, you may not claw at mommy's mouth like that triggered more crying and more holding, but the calm and the smile came much more quickly this time. 

So it's working, I'd say...teaching a child who has known nothing of a parent/child relationship and who spent the first thirteen months of his life comforting himself that he can express his emotions safely in mom or dad's arms.  More importantly, I am communicating to him I will NOT let you go.  Cry it out.  Scream in my ear if you must...I can take it.  You are no longer solely responsible for soothing yourself.  You are mine forever, and you are safe and loved here.  Sometimes I pray or sing over him; other times I try my best to carry on with whatever I was doing previously, which today was an American History lesson with my oldest son. 

All the while I am learning more about my Abba Father who invites me into his lap to bring him my sin, my ugly thoughts, my pain, my fear, my hopes, my desires...myself.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me...Psalm 18:16
He never pushes me away.  He is not undone by my fleshly rantings, my unbelief, or my tears.  He welcomes me and I come.  The abiding there is up to me.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  John 15:9
I'm learning about holding from the master.  


Krissy said...

im so proud of you and your amazing strength!

(im also sad you have to...rationalize everything so others dont make weird judgements...)

blessings to you dear friend - precious blessings to you.

Nicole said...

They sure do hate it, don't they? Brooklyn is not a fan of this either but admittedly, I don't do it often anymore. It's too stressful for me and physically exhausting, I just couldn't do it anymore. I am learning to read her cues and am finding that redirecting her to something more positive seems to be working well.

So ecstatic to read that this is working for you and Shu! Can't wait to read more about this!

Jennifer said...

Good for you girl!!! I've heard of holding therapy too and I'm glad to hear it works. :) You are so right though, he's always had to self soothe and now he will learn that momma it there to help him. Brings tears to my eyes. :)

Amy said...

I honestly got chills when I read, "With a face still dripping with tears, he raised his eyes to mine and smiled." OH HOW AMAZING!! I know it is such a tough road to walk. But you are handling it so beautifully.

Please don't apologize for doing things that work for your family. If people get upset about it, they can just stop reading. And if they have the nerve to post something negative to you... just hit that big 'ol fat delete button! ;)

Love ya!

Rita and John said...

I so enjoyed reading this! How wonderful that you are finding something that works for you and your little Shu.

Lindsay said...

I agree with Amy! Don't apologize and do what works for you and your son and your family. I'm amazed at your strength and compassion and courage. I know it's rough. I'm so happy you're sharing. I learn a lesson from you every time I read one of your posts. Bless you!

Sara said...

I had debated finding a holding therapy therapist, but K is just TOO DARN STRONG! I'd probably get a black eye! I'm so glad that your love for Shu is not only genuine love for your son, but is finally getting through to him. It's amazing the block these kiddos put up! Soon he will be hugging you back!

Christina said...

So at the end of your post, what you are saying is that God uses holding therapy on us?

Well, THAT IS WHAT I GOT OUT OF IT and I like it.

I have never really read up on holding therapy and didn't really "know" it existed, but there are times when I use this with my adopted daughter. To me, it just seemed like an instinct or a try and see if it works.

Low and behold, it worked with the same result that you described. I have only done it a couple of times. Our home is her 4th, so I need to help let her know this is her last childhood home in my book (God willing).

She is a toddler, so there are days that I have to redirect and correct her sometimes, which leads to tantrums and a LOT of crying and screaming. Then I think she can't possibly love me after all that "mothering". And then she'll quietly crawl up and say "Luv oo" or "My Baby". Then my heart melts and we are both reenergized to do it all over again. The bonding/attachment dance.

I've decided that I need to use holding therapy on my bio 6 year old.

TeamOehlkers said...

Jerusha ~ I love the parallel you pointed out in this post. You holding Shu and God holding you... Praying that Shu's shell continues to crack and you continue to see more of those beautiful smiles shining through.

Christy said...

I don't know any of you wonderful patient ladies personally. God has blessed you all with an amazing insight into your children. I believe that the Holy Spirit is leading you in practicing techniques that are necessary for each child.

Bless you and your precious children