Oct 24, 2018 08:36AM
● By Don Short
Have you ever felt invisible? Have you ever wanted to be invisible? For some of us the answer to both questions is a yes. I was born into a family of eight children, I was number seven. My siblings include five older brothers, my sister, who is a year older than I and then another brother who is eleven months younger. My parents and older brothers were excited when my sister was born, finally a girl! My birth followed and then that of my younger brother. Three toddlers began to fight for attention. I remember competing with my sister and trying to be more visible, with little to no success. It was like I became invisible. Throughout my school years, I tried to remain invisible because I had grown accustomed to it and would have anxiety whenever a teacher would call my name to respond to a question in class. Often in class, even in college, when a teacher would ask a question or ask for a volunteer, I would often look down as though if I don’t see you, then you won’t see me. Does this sound familiar to you?
There are three types of situations that can create this experience of feeling invisible.
1. Growing up in a large family as described above. Would you know that I subconsciously recreated a similar situation in my own family? I have three children of my own, one adopted ADHD child, and also we helped raise 35 foster children. There was a time that my own children came to me and asked: “do I have to be bad to get your attention?” This was like a 2 X 4 to the head! My own children had become invisible and I was completely unaware of it. After this awareness came, I made greater effort to be more involved in each of their lives.
2. Growing up with a disabled sibling. In families where there is a sibling with a disability or serious medical issues, so much attention is needed for these individuals that we often unintentionally fail to be in tune with the emotional needs of the other child(ren). Sometimes we tell them that they are acting selfishly when they are simply asking for some attention for themselves. We should make a conscious effort to let each of our children know that they are loved and valued.
3. Over use of electronics. I was at a restaurant a while back and observed a girl, around eleven years old, sitting next to her father. The father was busy doing stuff on his iPhone, and she was sitting there patiently waiting to spend time with her father. It was like she was invisible to him. In my counseling practice, I am hearing more and more complaints from wives complaining about their husbands and their excessive time on various gaming or other electronic activities. Also, I hear husbands complaining about their wives on Facebook. I hear parents complain about their children being swallowed up in this new electronic world. Do you sometimes feel invisible in your home? What about your spouse and your children? Here is what I would suggest:
A. No electronics during meal time.
B. No electronics in bed.
C. Children’s use of electronics for play and entertainment should be limited and should be a treat, not a life style.
Make sure no one feels invisible in your home. Work to improve family communication. Create a safe and loving environment where everyone has a voice and feels loved and valued. Let me know your thoughts. Use your voice and become visible.
Don Short is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and EMDR Therapist. His practice focuses on clients with marriage, relationship and family issues. To learn more contact 337-781-4565 or visit: AfterHoursCounseling.com
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