THE VACILLATOR AS A PARENT
Lets review the traits of the Vacillator:
Sporadic inconsistent attention based on parents needs and moods. Unpredictable. More about parents needs than child’s needs.
Longs for intense connection they can FEEL. Idealizes then devalues. Easily disappointed and feels abandoned and betrayed. More likely to display anger than hurt.
Highly sensitive, craves attention. Mistakes intensity for intimacy. Devalues when disappointed and intense “good” feelings are gone.
To feel special and exclusive, seen and understood. Avoid criticism as it means, “I’m flawed, unlovable.”
Anxious if close (they will leave) Anxious if apart (abandoned, not seen). Shows anger. Underneath, confused, disappointed. Sadness, grief underdeveloped.
When others depart this triggers feelings of abandonment, waiting. Closeness triggers anxiety: may sabotage because accepting means I will get hurt and be made to wait again.
Response: Mixed messages: Come here (I need you). Go away (I’m mad).
The Vacillator as a Parent
Remember, Vacillators are looking for the consistent connection they missed as kids.
Babies can certainly provide this connection for a time as they are dependent, needy and
Vacillator women tend to do fairly well in the infant stage as the baby may meet the mother’s deep need for consistent connection.
Vacillator fathers may feel their wife is preoccupied and unavailable and may have difficulty adjusting to the mother’s preoccupation with a new baby.
Like Pleasers, Vacillators have a more difficult time when the toddler, preschooler and
later adolescent begins to separate and assert their own will and personhood.
Vacillators tend to feel this separateness as personal rejection and the idealization of parenting that could be maintained in infancy may be replaced with devaluation as wills collide.
Vacillators have difficulty with waiting for time and attention from others.
Even a toddler can make a parent wait when they refuse to come, refuse a hug, want off your lap, hit, push you away etc.
While this is normal development for the child, vacillators who are usually sensitive may feel deeply rejected and be disenchanted with their child.
This dynamic can set up control battles, because if the parent can control their child they
hope to protect themselves from these feelings of rejection.
Little do they realize that their own childhood experiences are at the core of these feelings.
Vacillators may alternate between being too indulgent with their kids (you will like me and want me if I give you this) and too harsh and angry when they feel rejected.
This is confusing for the kids who are never sure where they stand or what to expect.
If you find yourself relating to this here are some growth goals.
Take a week and write down every episode where you feel slighted, rejected or mistreated by your child.
If you are a dad and home less, do this for several weeks or a month.
Get out the feeling word list and identify other feelings that are aroused during these times.
Then, review your list and ask yourself who made you feel these exact same things when you were growing up.
This will help you identify when and how the past is flooding into the present in your
relationship with your child.
Grieve these childhood hurts, hopefully with your spouse.
Propose to control your anger.
Learn to express sadness or hurt to your kids when they misbehave verses yelling.
Try and discover the meaning of their behavior verses just considering it obedience or disobedience. (What is my child telling me about themselves through this behavior?)
Memorize this phrase and say it to yourself often:
Differences do not equal rejection.
Last, notice when you make your kid “all bad” or “all good”.
For example, “This kid is driving me crazy and I don’t like anything about them”; Or, “This kid is the most gifted athlete this school has ever seen” Learn to find the middle.
Acknowledge the good and bad in yourself, your spouse and kids.
When you feel anyone is all bad, make yourself write down and express at least three good traits.
Vacillators can be the most fun, engaging parents at times.
The more you focus on the healing of your own attachment injury (injured love style) the more you will enjoy parenting and accept the good and bad in the whole experience.
Love and blessings,
Milan & Kay