Clues to How the Family is Doing

Some tricks to tell what’s going on behind the scenes in your family.

There is an entire subtext evolving behind the scenes in families with children… how they are interacting together, what they think of their parents, how it’s going with neighbors and friends and then there is school.  For much of it you have no way of knowing but there are clues.

  • DRAWINGS:  Pencil and paper will give you an amazing glimpse into your child’s life, worries and solvable problems. When they are still in the stick figure drawing mode, ask them to draw their family, to “draw you and Billy”, draw themselves with someone they like a lot, someone they don’t like a lot and the playground at school. Family drawings can be a mom with no ears which means she does not listen, the dad with a huge round mouth means he shouts, one sibling bigger than mom or dad means he’s a bully.  Drawings showing the child drawing as very small means he sees himself as powerless in his family, drawing a parent without arms means he gets no hugs.  When my children were young, I’d have them make these drawings every few months, snatch them up and seriously begin working on the problems.  One of my children, an extremely talented artist in adult life, drew me (a single parent with 4 little children.) with a smile on my face and tears running down my cheeks.
  • PHOTOGRAPHS:  There has been much written about reading faces and it’s deadly accurate stuff.  Choose a picture showing a smile for example.  Take 2 white pieces of paper (this gives no distraction) and cover one half of the face, then the other.  What seems to be a smile can become a grimace! The face may be smiling but the eyes are crying!  Then cover everything but one eye, then the other, then both eyes, then the mouth. As you do this, give one word to the emotion you are seeing in that one eye.  fear, worry, imp…  this is how the child is feeling generally.  It may also reflect how he’s feeling about the photographer.  Information from posed photos is somewhat different than from snapshots.  It’s very interesting to do this with old posed photos where the photographer was busy setting the camera.  The subject would hold the pose and begin to adjust it to be what he considered his ‘best look’  and fatigue or boredom would degenerate his pose to reflect the reality of his personality.Then there are those photos of the married couple, each leaning away from each other.  Remember, there were probably other photos in the series but this was the one chosen!  In group photos, watch if someone is consistently tilting the head away or leaning away from another.
  • THE MIRROR:  If you want to know how someone felt with a certain expression in a photograph or in conversation, go to the mirror and arrange your face in the same way.  Then hold that pose a minute.  Your body will feel what that person was feeling.  Arrange your face with a frown, a straight across mouth and a straight head for example.  you feel one way. Then keeping the same expression, cock your head and you feel another way.  Anther good exercise is to watch a talk show with the sound off and you will be seeing something very different than with the sound on.