Posted May 2, 2009
Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
Isn't that the truth! Having a child somehow cracks your heart open further than ever imagined. And parents today are parenting from the heart. It is shift towards authentic parenting. Mothers and fathers today don't just tell their children what to do - they often explain why, how it makes them feel and offer choices. I believe it is positive parenting.
Positive Parenting: What's required?
Being a positive parent is a highly aware and conscious endeavor. It requires like Jung said that, "if there is anything that we wish to change in our child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves." This leads me to requirement number 1: Getting our "stuff" together. Being a positive parent means that you are clear, transparent and skillful in your approach.
The biggest block to requirement 1 is not "making peace" with your parents or how you were parented. The past cannot be changed but it can be transformed by how you look at it. I made peace (i.e. forgave) my parents for some less optimum approaches (i.e. spanking) and a rigid authoritarian style but looking at it gave me insight. It helped me "let-go" of my "automatic parenting style" to become more conscious and aware in this process. It liberated me.
Positive parenting, as the title suggests, also needs you to be both POSITIVE and the PARENT. This is requirement 2: Being positive and firm. I see parents struggle with this one day-in and day-out. I believe its because requirement 1 isn't always met. "Automatic parenting" is easy to do. It's like our knee-jerk reaction to how we were parented. We become too easy on our kids because we were raised so strictly (i.e. no rules or discipline) or we become too tough with unreasonable expectations (i.e. straight A's).
Requirement 2 is about the middle ground. It is being consistently positive and firm in your authority (i.e. decisions, consequences). Every child is different and by that needs slightly unique parenting but overall - positive and firm has proved to meet 2 goals of childrearing: A) Making a child feel loved and B) Giving a child a "safe container" whereas someone else is in-charge so they can grow, not worry and courageously risk to develop their authentic selves.
Parenting in this style also requires you to focus upon the positives (i.e. child's strengths). This is requirement 3: Focus on positives. It sounds so simple but may not be easy. Little Johnny is 3 years old and is screaming at the top of his lungs. You, as the parent or adult, have a choice. It is to value Johnny's ability to be vocal, match his screaming with yours or somehow create a middle ground solution. You might tell Johnny "boy you have great lungs!" and then look to see what he needs. Yelling means he needs something. There is a need not met (i.e. emotional, mental, physical or spiritual). You might try redirecting him so he can continue to exit negative emotions (i.e. outdoors, running around, drums, punching bag) while you gain perspective.
Cultivating a positive worldview (i.e. you can solve any problem the world sends to you, even Little Johnny) and learning how to remain calm despite obvious distraction and noise (i.e. mind training) can support a parent in their efforts to apply a positive parenting approach.
And requirement 4: Get a teacher. Become an apprentice, at least in your mind, to a parenting expert. Read someone's books or listen to a speaker that resonates with you. If parenting is the most IMPORTANT role you'll ever play, isn't it worth a few minutes of your time each week?
And it can be fun! I believe in learning with humor so find someone who is funny, insightful and knowledgeable about what is important to you right now (i.e. brain development, children's nutrition, learning styles etc...). You might watch a streaming video or read their website - whatever it is, make it enjoyable so honing your parenting skills becomes a full-on positive experience.
Positive parenting is an approach that is honest and optimistic. It cultivates a strong emotional connection with your child that sets him or her on a path with greater chances of happiness. And isn't that what every parent wants, a happy child!
By Maureen Healy, twitter (mdhealy)
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