Many parents want to move toward positive parenting. They want to abandon controlling, bullying, and being punitive with their children. Instead, they want their relationship to be authentic, open, and genuine. These mothers and fathers ask “how do I do this? Where do I start? What do I do?” There is no easy answer. This massive change requires a paradigm shift toward the way we think about children, and our relationship with them.
We are told to dictate babies feeding schedules instead of meeting their biological needs. Rather than being comforted by the familiar scent of the only world they have ever known, our minutes old newborns are taken from us to be poked, prodded, and assaulted. We are taught to override our instincts so that we can ignore the cries and desires of our babies, instead of listening to them and deepening their trust for us.
Parents regularly find themselves in a position of feeling inner unrest when it comes to making decisions on behalf of their children.
Whether it is listening to the cries of our precious toddler as he sits in isolation begging for our comfort, or our own tears shed while collapsing in the car after leaving our panicked child for his first day of preschool, our intense feelings are trivialized. Those around us tell us that though none of this feels “good” or even “right, that it is all “normal”. We are taught that this pain is necessary for our children to become functioning members of society.
What if it’s not?
If none of this is true, why are we treating our children in such a horrible and unkind way?
It is easy to blame individual parents. This allows us to in-fight and keep the focus on ridiculous urban myths like mommy wars and judgment. It keeps the conversation away from the real issue; the hard and demanding work of changing ourselves for the sake of our children. The problem does not lie with individual families, but the most efficient solution does.
If we want to improve our relationship with our children, we must improve ourselves. We need to face the stuff that causes us to react to our children, instead of guiding them. We must get comfortable questioning every single thing that we have been taught. We need to learn how to be okay with doing things differently. It requires that we hold ourselves accountable for knowing more, rather than blaming others for not educating us.
There is no simple solution to learning to live respectfully with our children. “10 Easy Steps to Living Gently with Children” does not exist, and there is no single blog post that can magically teach us. We must be inspired to commit to making things better in our families. Once this happens, no excuse will be relevant, no reason for failure will be valid, and our hearts will open in a way that allows our brains to be flooded with resources for achieving real change.
When we say that we want to improve our relationship with our children, do we mean it? The answer to this question has to come from the deepest part of ourselves, and nobody else can answer it for us.
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