Multigenerational Care: “I wish I had a motorcycle…”
In our practice, we take care of babies, toddlers, kids, tweens, teens, adolescents, young adults, middle-aged adults, and the elderly. We see grandparents, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and all the little newborns. Heck, we even see babies prior to birth, as we adjust the pregnant mother! Yes, chiropractic provides care across multiple generations. It makes for an interesting experience, to say the least.
One particular family of ours are the Mairs: five blond kiddos, their two parents, and two grandparents. Raised from birth as “chiro babies,” the kids line up (or, rather, cluster around in giddy excitement) for their adjustments. The youngest most recently grabbed my spine model and proceeded to ask all the questions about the length of the spine, how big was his spine, what part of the spine is this (it’s a lumbar disc), and on and on….Often, I won’t know where one conversation begins and another ends. Everyone excitedly talks and I’m forever telling the child I’m adjusting, “Put your head back in the headpiece please, thank you.”
The Mairs are a very close family, and their kids range from 6 to 13. The children have a variety of personalities and curious insights, and it is quite fun to simply listen to all that is said during their family adjusting hour. Multiple pee breaks are made, and often I am made aware of the day’s events and other big family news. I ask questions and learn about each member of the family as I listen.
As a practitioner, I find it extremely rewarding to help multigenerational families with the care we provide. We find that as whole families jump into the care, there is a “slow down” phenomenon and a culture shift. As the children’s nervous systems begin to balance, they experience better sleep quality and increased attention. The brain frees up from a pain or dissonance pattern in order to promote proper neurodevelopment. That’s all fine and dandy, but the real benefit is the pressure it takes off mom, dad, and the grandparents, who inevitably will worry about their family.
Big tears began to trickle down his cheeks. I asked if he was in pain, and he said no. His mother and I comforted him and complimented him on being brave. We told him that it was normal and good to let the emotions flow.
With kids sleeping and following instructions better, more ease is allowed into the household. I’ve noticed the parents are able to relax and slow down a little more. Having a family chiropractor on the job can be a wonderful way to receive aid and take the pressure off mom or dad to always have the solution. Sometimes the solution is simply: This kid needs an adjustment.
To help families recognize the significance of proper neurodevelopment and the healthy lifestyle factors involved, I feel that it is important to share a brief story about the Mair family.
One day, Isaac, the middle child of the five blondies, came in with his mom, brothers, and sisters. The family had recently been grieving the loss of a close friend, and this sadness and stress was reflected in their bodies. With Isaac, his stress came in the form of an inability to sleep and an upset stomach. Though his family grieved openly and prayed together daily, Isaac had not had a full release. He had done little to no crying during the family’s loss, and, as a result, could not sleep.
Almost instantly upon checking his pelvis, I knew that we needed to release neuromuscular tension from the front. Most notably, mental-emotional tension can be stored on the deep psoas muscle and fascial tissue that attaches to the low back, pelvis, and femur. This is the deep hip flexor that puts the body in fetal position, a protective behavior.
I looked Isaac and his mother in the eyes and told them what we were going to do. That the psoas would probably be tender, and that I wanted him to breathe in through his nose and out through his mouth. I said that if he does cry, that is perfectly normal, and his mother nodded in agreement. They understood the care and the importance of releasing neurologic tension from his system.
I began to move Isaac’s hip in small circles, then larger ones, pressing lightly on the hip tendons with my other hand. He was guarding the area, and I saw his eyes were beginning to water. He had a look that seemed to say, “Is this okay?” I nodded to him and said, “Yep Isaac, don’t fight it.”
Big tears began to trickle down his cheeks. I asked if he was in pain, and he said no. His mother and I comforted him and complimented him on being brave. We told him that it was normal and good to let the emotions flow through.
Once we settled down, I checked his upper cervical region with the activator and adjusted him. By the end he was feeling much more settled. His mother thanked me. I finished adjusting the rest of the family, and they left. The next morning, I received a text from Isaac’s mother. It read:
Isaac said this morning: I just want to get on a motorcycle and drive to my chiropractor and hug him and say thank you so much! He slept all night and felt great this morning. Thank you!
According to his mother, he fell right asleep in the car during the ride home from the family adjustment. Later in the week, Isaac’s grandparents would thank me as well. Grandpa Ray joked, “Watch yourself, or Dr. Cameron is going to get you with the psoas move!” We all laughed at this, understanding the significance of healthy emotional expression for nervous system balance and regulation.
Everyone processes big life events differently. Some families have loud and extroverted personalities, with one child who is an incredibly intelligent introvert. Other families have mostly introverts and a child who is perhaps very artistic, sociable, and expressive. Whatever the mix is, it is essential to never assume that what works for you, as parents and grandparents, will work for your children. Everyone has a unique nervous system that processes life experiences in a beautiful way. That process looks a little different for all of us.
It can be so helpful to get a little assistance from your friendly, neighborhood ICPA chiropractor, who recognizes these subtleties in the nervous system. It has been an immense honor to be able to serve whole families. I love helping family members process life experiences and find more coherence and balance. Thank you to the Mair family, and to all of you “chiro families” out there, who show up trusting and willing to do the work to create a more whole and wonderful tomorrow.