Friday, October 22, 2010

Parenting more peacefully

Once again, a pictureless blog......

Last night, in an effort to find a better fit for our homeschooling routine, I stumbled upon Sandra Dodd's "unschooling" website/blog - which can be found here ..... if you're interested

What I read enthralled me. It made me recall all the times as a child and even teen that parents (not just my own) and teachers (well, all adults really) did or said things that made me want to dig in my heels and do/say/act/etc in exactly the opposite way that they expected. What I read made perfect, logical, stupid sense. Stupid as in DUH!!! It also made me re-evaluate HOW I interact with my children. How did I respond to them in different situations? How I allowed their actions to make me feel and act in response.

That was a big one - realizing that I ALLOWED their actions to create a negative response from me. And I wondered, WHY??? Did I enjoy yelling? Did I enjoy being frustrated? The simple answer was NO. I didn't enjoy it. So, why did I continue to have the same unpleasant reaction to these situations? How had it come to the point where I no longer had control of myself?

How many times have we all heard, "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"???? Well why is it that something we all seem to KNOW is the very LAST thing we live? Why do we fall into the same patterns as parents that our parents did and their parents before them? Because it's how we grew up? Why do we shout orders instead of ask nicely, for our children to do simple household tasks (chores) while we then turn around and lecture them about "asking nicely" when they want something? 

Why not make the conscious decision to NOT "make the same mistakes" our parents made? I know, some people out there will think I've truly lost my mind this time. That they are the parent and the child is the child and that's just "how it's done." That a child doesn't get a choice in what they're supposed to do/think, or how they're supposed to act/speak or even IF there's a choice about chores. That this pattern of demanding and shouting orders is what makes someone into a strong responsible adult.

Well I say, take a look around you - what do you see. Do you see people treating each other with respect and dignity? Do you see people who stop and help random strangers? Or, do you see everyone out for themselves, taking advantage of one another, and folks who pass by the person broken down on the side of the road without a second look?

This whole parenting peacefully approach and the idea of mindfulness is also part of what's referred to as "Radical Unschooling." Now some people, who only skim the surface of the idea, may think that it's basically an excuse NOT to parent. It's a free-for-all where the kids have no rules, no requirements, no guidelines, no consequences. Sure, you could certainly do things that way. But what I took away from it was more than that.

It's the "golden rule."
It's treat others as you'd like to be treated.
It's teaching by example.
It's being kind when the easier option SEEMS to be rude or unkind, or demanding

It's a whole lot of just being INVOLVED. I don't mean just sort of involved. I mean REALLY involved. And it means saying yes, more often than you say no, or just a minute, or later. It's taking time and making time for your child.

So the next time they say, "mom/dad, can I/You/We do/go __________?" Instead of immediately saying no, think for a moment. What does saying YES change? Does it mean you have to walk away from the computer - from Facebook or MySpace or your email or the latest online game? Does it mean dinner will have to wait 5 minutes? Does it mean you have to put down the crossword puzzle, your book or turn off the TV for a while?

If that's all you can think about, think about the message that sends to your child.

I'm NOT saying drop everything all the time.

But, I DARE YOU..... the next time you are going to say NO just because that's what you normally say... instead stop what YOU are doing and say YES. And just see what happens!!

As a side note - If I'd say no, or just a minute or not now, or later, I'd have had this blog done at 8 am.... Instead I chose to say yes, and it took me hours longer to finish it than it would have if I'd said something else.

I heard a quote many years ago - the context was a woman who seemed to let her child interrupt what she was doing on a regular basis. When asked why she allowed this, her response was, something along the lines of: Our children don't ask to be brought into the world. The least we can do is allow them to show it to us.

I couldn't agree more!!

Perhaps the question should not be WHY Parent more Peacefully, but rather WHY NOT? Seems to me that as a mom I've got nothing to lose and oh so much to gain!!

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