We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
[Marianne Williamson]

Monday, May 25, 2009

Winning the battle - from the inside out

As you know, I've been reading a number of things lately which have been helping me become a better parent - not perfect in any way or by any means, but at least I feel more like a positive work-in-progress.

Today I read an article from one of my favourite new resources, and I wanted to a) share it and b) make sure I remembered where to find it, so I could read it again and again. I will post it here in full - The Battlefield of the Mind: Anger and Parenting:

If we create a battlefield in our mind against our children, then all is lost. By battlefield, I mean the minute we begin thinking, “My child is doing this on purpose!” “My child is out to get me and make me miserable!” “My child knew what they were doing and planned this!” “My child is just wanting to push each and every one of the buttons I have!” Keep reading to find out the implications of what I mean by that!

Mamas, I have been there and done that and I would like to share something with you that I have learned: If we create a us versus them mentality in our mind and in our attitude before we even open our mouths, then we have lost.

We have lost the opportunity to warmly hold the space for our children, we have lost the moment to guide in peaceful energy the behavior we would like our child to show, we have lost the connection between us and our child.

For those of you who follow this blog who believe that childhood development unfolds according to seven-year cycles, the things we think in the moment of anger are then not even logical according to this framework! To a Waldorf parent, a child under the age of 7 does not view themselves as even separate yet; they cannot at this point “do” something to “you” because that separation from you does not yet exist. To a Waldorf parent, a child under the age of 7 is truly not logical, does not pre-meditate and pre-plan. Yes, they do test boundaries. But it is most likely more spur of the moment rather than pre-planned!

For those of you who follow this blog who are attachment parenting, to you I would say that one of the foundations of loving guidance is putting respect and empathy at the core of your parenting. Look at the situation and your child’s needs through your more experienced life lenses ( and no, you do not have to use words to ASK them all this! You are the wonderful, smart, intelligent adult who can figure this out without asking them!) What did they need in that moment where they were doing something different than what you expected or wanted? Did they need food, a break, something to do, guidance as to what was acceptable in the house or not, your attention, sleep?

And most importantly, once this occurs and we are feeling angry, can we step back and find our needs underneath the anger? Why are we so darned angry anyway? Maybe we need respect, peace, quiet, a chance to sit down?

Can you take a breath and change the scenery? Can the child make restitution, make a “healing action” to make the situation right again after everyone has calmed down? Restitution is a very important part of parenting. It shows the child that we all can make mistakes, but it is what we do with the mistake that is most important.

Most of all, no guilt trips on the child. They don’t understand the extent of the emotions you are feeling, they really don’t understand all the words you are using, and all they feel is your anger. Less words, more breathing, more warmth, more action toward the positive.

For you to meditate on is this concept of POSITIVE INTENT. What could possibly be the positive intent behind this situation, behind this interaction? Can I see it this way?

Because if you continue to play out the battlefield in your mind, the last person standing will be you with all the children around you out of the connection in the game.

Enjoy your children, find the joy. You can do this!
This was written by Carrie at The Parenting Passageway. This blog is written from a Waldorf homeschooling / attachment parenting point of view, but for great parenting advice, I have not found anything like it.

These questions come from another of her posts - Making Yourself a Priority in the Parenting Equation. I have written them out and taped them to the wall in our bedroom, where I can be sure to read them several times a day!
Ask yourself, “Is this establishing connection and trust with my child?” “Is this a respectful way to treat my child?” Ask yourself, “Is this a short-term solution that has really bad long-term consequences?” Ask yourself “Is this about my inner balance? My own stuff?”

Other posts I want and need to bookmark for myself at this moment are:

Many many thanks to Farida (Saints and Spinners) for suggesting I take a look at The Parenting Passageway, and a huge thank you to Carrie for writing such fantastic, thought-provoking guidance. My boys thank you too!


Saints and Spinners said...

I need to remember this all the time. I forget it all the time. Why?

Schelle said...

Me too - it seems SO simple when you read it... what makes it so hard to hold in your head and your heart??? Even after posting this I still forgot it several times today. I am now printing it out, highlighting the keywords I need most, and posting it somewhere really obvious where I will read it at least daily! I am determined to internalise this to the point where it becomes habit, no matter what it takes!