Monday, September 19, 2011

The Way You Wish

I sat at a parenting support course this weekend. Learning ways to understand grief and anger and familial stress so that one day, should I be called upon, I too can support someone else when their world has just taken an unpredicted turn. From bad birth outcomes to startling diagnosis further down the track. Everyone has loss. Loss is loss is loss. I may not know where you're coming from, and you can't possible know my loss, but together, our losses are losses. The depth, the pain, the consequences are vast.

One of the things I found myself repeating, in almost every group work assignment was: I take a deep breath and I parent the way I wish I had been parented. And a few eyebrows would raise and someone would eventually come over at a break and ask what I meant by it.

I'm not shy about admitting my passion for Attachment Parenting and the belief I have ingrained in myself of Gentle Parenting. I began reading about Attachment Parenting when trying to become pregnant. I knew there was MORE out there than the shit handling of my own life. I knew there had to be a way to raise a kid that didn't involve him contemplating suicide as a teen.

And there it was. And it lead to internet searches for more information and more forum readings about Gentle Parenting. Not to say that I'm perfect and I strive to be flawless, but I have worked VERY hard over the past year and a bit on mindfulness and being present. I did a 19 week (57 hour) group course in Anger Management because I wanted to learn how to feel something. Normally I would start to feel something, anything, freak out and push it all down until it would just blow up.

And it was a common occurrence in women. You're so primed to look after others that it can feel strange to want to look after yourself, especially if you are a product of domestic violence or neglect. (Especially the neglect part.)

This is stolen from LLL:

"Initially, the phrase "gentle discipline" may evoke mushy, weak, absent-minded discipline. It may remind you of families with no boundaries, children controlling the parents, or selfish, impulsive children that no one wants to be around. Or perhaps you might think of parents afraid to say no, afraid of their children's tantrums.

This kind of parenting does exist, but it is best described as "permissive parenting." Fortunately, gentle discipline has nothing to do with this ineffective and problematic style of parenting. Gentle discipline is strong and effective."

Gentle Parenting isn't about kids running wild and manipulating parents. All kids run wild. And all kids do eventually learn how to manipulate the people they love the most. It's how we, as evolving creatures, work. But, gentle parenting is about putting the need of the moment ahead of MY need to feel validated and in control of the situation.

So, my 2 year old spilled pricey unhomogenized milk allllll over the floor. I wanted to scream, to slap her. To yell and throw the milk container at her. Those were the feelings I had. Right or wrong, that's the way I was working. But, I took a breath and asked: How would I have wanted someone to love me and discipline me?

And that's when I really understood what I was doing. And I use it in every situation. How would I like to be treated that I never once experienced? Kindness. Tolerance. Patience. It works with Adults and truly, ourselves.

Those 57 hours were some of the hardest I've ever experienced. Facing grief. Facing the past. Accepting and acknowledging neglect. And then finding the peace to want to move forward.

"Does it work?" was the most commented statement in response to my Gentle Parenting statements. Does it work? Sometimes. Yes. Sometimes. No. But it is ALWAYS keeping myself, my child and the situation benign and not dangerous. If you're hitting your child, you're not doing the right thing. If you're parenting by threat of physical violence and put downs, it needs to stop.

And that's before we throw in the extra demands of parenting with special needs.

Yes, your child has special needs. Yes, life is hard. I know how it can be. But, it's not ok. Not that all traditional parenting ends in violence. But, a lot of it does. Putting hot sauce on your child's tongue is abuse. I hate to break it to you.

Putting hot sauce on the tongue of a child wit Autism is abuse that needs to be reported. Not that this came up at my parenting course, but it has appeared in some of my internet searches on Autism and Discipline.

Imagine yourself as the small child. The walls are endlessly tall. People tower over you. They hold all the power and control. You are dressed, fed and do what people tell you to do. You act out because of whatever is going on in your insides. And someone hits you. Or threatens you. And tells you they're doing it because they LOVE you.

Now, think about how that child would want the reasonable, sane and loving adult to act. It's not a wish for permission to be a hellion on earth. But it's wanting someone to love you and set boundaries that are fair, proven and gentle. Kids don't stop hitting because you hit them. And they won't stop yelling because you yell at them to shut up.

Good places to start are with Dr. Sears and Wikipedia. This Blog is a nice place to visit as well. You can learn a lot here. And, though I do not subscribe to a religious way of parenting, there are always good insights here.

No, you don't have to eat organic or hug trees. You don't even have to want to give up driving a SUV. You don't have to breastfeed or want to breastfeed. You don't have to eat macrobiotic or cloth diaper. You don't have to wear your baby or home school. And, especially if you're like me, you can openly dislike The Secret, the Law of Attraction and all that bullshit. All it takes to parent peacefully is a commitment to sane, gentle discipline that respects the people involved.

Kids love without boundary. And they love you. Please love them.


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