Our car needs to be maintained, which includes rotating the tires and checking the oil. If it’s not regularly maintained, a car’s miles per gallon will diminish over time. The same is true of our children.
Your son might have managed a week away at the school’s science camp last month but he has a hard time managing a sleepover at a friend’s house this week. The change probably doesn’t mean a problem, but it may be time for a maintenance check:
1. What other stresses is he managing? Is his schoolwork overwhelming? Is he worried about making the football team or being cast in the play? Has there been new conflict at home? Is Dad away on business? Is Mom sick? Did a new sibling just arrive? Even something as seemingly benign as having company or painting the house can add stress and diminish his mpg.
2. How’s his physical health? If he’s having trouble sleeping, if his appetite is off, if he’s struggling with allergies or an injury or a persistent pain, he may feel less secure and confident away from his anchors.
3. Even if he’s fine, he may be less willing or able to let go if someone else is stressed or ill. His mpg will drop dramatically if he fears that you might not be there when he gets home; if he worries that there might be violence or drinking or drugging while he’s gone. Does he worry that his sister might get sick or his puppy will die if he’s away? Or on the flip side of that coin, does he think he’ll miss out on something fun? Exciting news or a party or a present?