Thursday, March 31, 2011

Something Parents All Over the World Are Struggling to Learn Right Now: Including Me

Attachment Parenting:  Developing and utilizing a close parent-to-child bond in order to discipline and teach our children.

One of my favorite phrases on the Attachment parenting website is, "It's not called PERMISSIVE parenting!"  
So many think that in order to "be nice" to our kids, we have to be permissive.  Many see parents who are patient and non-confrontational with their children, and assume that those parents are permissive.  It is difficult for our society to understand that there is a sweet-spot between Authoritative and Intimidating, and Permissive and Uninvolved.  That middle ground is Attachment Parenting/Positive Discipline.

Attachment Parenting isn't a new skill to learn or a new philosophy of parenting.  It's the true spirit of humanity.  It is the embodiment of the second greatest commandment given by Jesus Christ.  It's loving others as we love ourselves.  In other words, it is loving others while we love ourselves.  

One of the hardest tests of being a parent, is seeing our true selves reflected back through our children.

Do you see yourself in your children?
Do you consciously or unconsciously despise what you see?
Does the thought of them becoming like you, scare you?
Does this thought make you want to hide or lash out at [yourself in the body of] your child?

If you searched your heart and found the answer to any of the above is yes, you are not alone.

Attachment Parenting is seeing ourselves in our children, and having unconditional love, compassion, empathy and understanding for that self we see.  

Isn't that how God sees us?  Doesn't He tell us that He is in each of us, and He loves us as Himself?  Recently I read an article on about how one mother taught her son to do a chore.  He was a teenager, perfectly capable of doing the actual chore, but she understood that he was not necessarily capable of developing the habit and remembering to do it on his own.  So she met him with a smile, and they did the chore (bringing the trash cans in) together.  They did this for several weeks, and then, he started doing it on his own.  "Just as it took Kelly several weeks of teaching her son to bring in the garbage cans, it will most likely take kids several teaching sessions before they get the hang of a job and are able to think it through on their own.  Kelly says she even expects her son to forget again, as his priorities are simply different than hers.  But she is ready and willing to step in and do it together with him again...teach many, many times!"  I thought about that, and cringed at how I have gotten exasperated when I had to teach my child something more than once, and I asked myself a tough question: which way is God's way?

I can picture Him knowingly and patiently taking our arm in his, and walking us through His way again and again.  Then we take over and start to do it on our own, but He knows "My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts."  So He expects us to forget again, doesn't He?  He knows we will need Him to walk us through it again, because we are immature.  We are children, and that is our nature.  His promise is that He will be there every time we forget, smiling and ready to teach us again.  His patience is infinite.  His love--unconditional.  What can we learn about parenting from Him?

When you look through the eyes of your child, what do you see?

What will be the story of his childhood?  What will she remember most?  Are you creating a childhood she'll speak openly of 20 years from now, with an honest, genuine smile?

One of the best and most straight-forward helps I've found is at  Specifically, the section on Effective Discipline.  I have recently forgotten, and relearned much of this, and am grateful for a patient Heavenly Father who is ready and willing to take my hand...again.

"But I Already Raised My Children!  It's Too Late to Change the Past."

Even if your children have left the nest, even if they are having babies of their own, it's never too late.  We all need this attachment at any age, and we all need to reconcile our pasts.  An amazing change can come over you and your relationships when you have reattached to your parents, no matter how old, to your children and grandchildren, no matter the age.  Even if your parents have deceased, you can attach or re-attach to a reconciliation of their memory.  You can say within yourself, "this is what my parents knew, this is what they did not know that I now know."  As the first Nephi in the Book of Mormon, you can say, (paraphrased) 'I am thankful for their examples, good and bad, and thank The Lord that I can see the difference.'  You can find compassion in your heart for them, and for yourself.  You can learn to parent yourself, through positive self-discipline.  Again, it is NEVER ever, too late.

"I Don't Have Any Children of My Own"

If you have no children of your own, you can connect with a niece or nephew, a close friend's child, a student...many many kids long and need for a kind, empathetic adult to reach out to them.  You can change someone's life by simply creating a few wonderful, loving memories.  For more information on ways to do this without anxiety, (which destroys all our best attempts) there are several resources I recommend:
Book: Attached at the Heart: 8 Proven Parenting Principles for Raising Connected and Compassionate Children  by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker  [I have not read this book yet, but it is recommended by the attachment parenting website, and I look forward to checking it out from my local library as soon as I am finished moving.]

I am so happy to report that my relationship to my children is better than it was several weeks ago, and the more I study this way of being, the easier it becomes to lead and guide them.  They are better behaved, they are happier, and they are healthier.  Everything from their grooming and eating habits to their public conduct has improved. Not to perfection, but progress, definitely.

My challenge for you all is to find a child to connect (or reconnect) with in a healthy way, whether it is your own child or someone else's, and then write me and tell me about it.  I want to hear from you!!  You may find your story posted, unless you specify not to.

1 comment:

  1. I found your blog through the MMB listings, and I absolutely love your words of wisdom. We seem to have a lot of opinions in common, and you have a wonderful way of articulating things without being divisive or judgmental.
    Our family is adopting children who will have some behavioral problems, and it's nice to read a gentle reminder (especially from an LDS perspective) about why compassion and patience is key.