The -Ism No One is Talking About.

Our country is sick.

No, I am not talking about Nazis or Donald Trump. Nazis and Donald Trump are the results of the ongoing illness of our society. They are the pain and the vomit and the blood when you have cancer. They are not the cancer. They are the alarms going off in our bodies screaming at us that we have ignored the signs and abandoned our souls for far too long.

The sickness I am referring to is the sickness of worshiping isolation and individualism. You vs. me. Almost everyone reading this was likely born into such a society so this isn’t about pointing fingers. Pointing the finger outward is what we all do in order to not look at and take responsibility for ourselves. Pointing the finger at others has it be that we never have to ponder the question,

“Where/how am I perpetuating the problem?”

Pointing the finger out leads to the same ole thing because there is no ripple effect of change quite like the one that inevitably happens when we change ourselves.

In terms of this societal illness, I want to address who it affects the most… and that is the children. Which also means it affects us all the most and we are all affected because we were all children at one time. It begins from the time we are born and seeps into our childhood and then children grow up to be the adults in the world today. The ones running it, fighting for it, the ones that raised you… and you… and me. Us.

“Pshh, me?! I’m fine,” you say. Here me out:

How do I know how deeply children are affected by a society riddled with foundational cancer?

It’s the way we make our problems about our child without recognizing that 99% of the time the problem is us. We expect a higher standard of behavior from children than we do for ourselves.

It is the way we pathologize kids so that we, again, don’t have to take a deep look into how we are creating the problem. If we did, this would likely mean we would have to drastically change the way we live and massively shift and realign our priorities. But we don’t, because change is scary, and our children suffer from our unwillingness to change and take responsibility for the fact that we have set up our society in a way that is mostly unsupportive and inconsiderate of children.

We slap labels on them like ADD, high needs, intense, sensory issues, and hyperactive instead of admitting that they are simply having a natural response to a society and to institutions that do not serve the human body and mind. If we admitted that, we would have to change, and too many people are benefiting from the way things are, and our children pay the price.

Now what?

First, we have to have a clear and confident understanding of the true nature of children. That is to say, the true nature of humanity. If we cannot see children for who they truly are, are trust what they actually need to thrive, then it will be easy to justify inflicting this mistreatment onto them. We will continue to perpetuate childism and justify it to serve our agendas. A total paradigm shift around how to view and treat children is essential, and to do that it requires us to take a deep look at our own wounds and admit how we were affected by and play out this disease.

Children are wild and free (we all are, but I digress). This alone can be very triggering to some people, but they are and that is the truth of their biology. They are meant to move, explore, be rowdy, run around, test things, play, and be in connection with other people. And not just for a couple of hours blocked off every day, but all the time. They are meant to live it. The problem is not children, the problem is a society that makes no room for them to be who they are. 

Most parenting experts will tell us how to peacefully handle car seat battles, bedtime protests, tantrums, etc (which definitely has its place in our current world), but almost no one wants to acknowledge that that being strapped down to a seat unable to move is unnatural and no fun for anyone, because maybe if we didn’t worship isolation, conformity, and individualism then we wouldn’t have to drive to play dates, grocery stores, school, etc. Because in a world that would deeply serve us and our children, our friends would wake up next to us, our food would be growing in our yards, and “school” would be life.

Someone once said that the image of a mother at home alone with her children is the most unnatural thing we allow to happen and at one point in history, this is something that would have never been allowed. I personally would be so bold to say that it is criminal and where the majority of societies problems begin. Growing up in isolation and then being brainwashed as a child to believe that it’s the dream to be had as an adult.

A play date or two a week isn’t enough. A night out a week with your girlfriends isn’t enough. We need to be living in communion with one another. This is our chance at healing on a fundamental level.

The worst is the way we punish children who have the awareness in their bodies that something isn’t right, but lack the words and comprehension to communicate it. These children know somewhere deep down they are not getting what they need, what their bodies were expecting to feel on a basic level when they entered this world. This shows up in children we label as “sensitive, disrespectful, heathen,” etc.

They are acting out their dissatisfaction of life (rightfully, so) and then we punish them for it which only perpetuates the thing in which we feel justified in punishing them for.

Children come into this world knowing nothing of isolation and individualism. They expect their needs to be met and to be part of something bigger than themselves. Growing up being the center of one or two adults attention is confusing, at best.

I think the reason it is so hard for us to enact true change in our society is because it would require an inventory of self, and from there things that we cling to would have to be dismantled, starting with the way we raise humans and the beliefs we hold that we impart to them.  Institutions that play out the systematic roles of childism and no longer serve our new world view would have to radically change or come down completely. There are people who want to desperately keep things mostly the same, so we are locked into the idea that we can move things around, so long as they stay in the box. The truth is, there is no box, there never was.

Racism, classism, ablesim, conservatism, and nationalism are all things so many of us want to understandably speak out on and bring awareness to, but hardly anyone wants to acknowledge where all the -isms begin, and that is childism: a systemic belief and prejudice against children on the ground of a belief that they are property and can (or even should) be controlled, enslaved, or removed to serve adult needs.”

It runs so deep we don’t even know we are doing it. The ways we control and enslaved them are seen as normal to a society who sees children as less than. It is pervasive and not even I am immune to it.

So tell me, how are you perpetuating childism and how were you affected by it?

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I Do Not Want a “Well Behaved” Child

This morning I got a new comment on one of my spanking articles. It was another person coming in to defend their right to hit their child. I shortened it, but it partly read:

“Whoever wrote this and did the research is confused and did not define terms accurately. I spanked, not hit, all nine of my children and they do not hit. Never have. My grown children are well adjusted, well behaved, loving kids. I receive positive compliments about them often. Spanking is quite misunderstood.”

Nevermind the fact that this person is trying to make a case for spanking not being hitting. For more of my thoughts on that you can check out [this blog] I wrote a while back.

What I wanted to address here is something in this comment I see often when it comes to pro-spankers justifying their actions, and that is that their child is “well behaved.”

As soon as I see this term tossed around, I quickly remember that this person and I are not even operating on the same parenting paradigm. Our entire foundation and basis at which we view the lens of raising humans is in complete (or nearly complete) opposition to one another.

The reason for that is because I do not want a “well behaved” child. It is not, nor will it ever be, a goal of mine as a parent.

First, let’s take a look at some definitions of “well behaved.”

“behaving in a way that is accepted as correct.”

And to that I say, who defines what is a “correct” way to be?

*Sentence: “child or animal behaves in a way that is polite or gentle and does not upset people.”

First of all, why are only the most vulnerable among us expected to be “well behaved” (children and animals)?

Second, I am not raising my son to be a people-pleaser. If he has anything to say that has value, he will likely upset some people. As a matter of fact, at not even three-years-old, he is already triggering to some adults for having strong preferences and opinions and having the freedom to voice them.

 

“If you describe someone, especially a child, as well-behaved, you mean that they behave in a way that adults generally like and think is correct.”

Well I am not sure we can get any more overt with the true meaning of a well behaved child. According to this definition, it essentially means we are grooming children to act in a way that we (adults) approve of and is convenient for us, regardless of how it feels to them. So we are teaching our children to operate under authoritarian values and seek validation from others. Great.

Some synonyms for “well behaved” are: obedient, disciplined, peaceable, docile, controlled, restrained, cooperative, compliant, and law-abiding.

Just reading these words make me cringe.

To the person (and any others who might agree) who wrote me this message:

Yes, go ahead and spank your child…

if what you are wanting is a docile child…

if your objective as a parent is to control your child…

if your goal is to raise an obedient child who doesn’t question your actions or the actions of others…

if you want your child to look outside of themselves for validation…

if you think the sign of good parenting is having a “well behaved” child…

You can have a well behaved child. I don’t want one.

I want a child who stands up for himself when he knows someone is hurting him. That includes standing up to me.

I want a child who questions the status quo and systems that harm and don’t make sense to him. That includes questioning me.

I want a child who fully expresses his full range of emotions without fear of being shamed, ridiculed, or hit.

I want a kind, loving, compassionate, respectful child. I get that by modeling to him a kind, loving (unconditionally), compassionate, and respectful parent. Modeling that means that I don’t hit him (or spank, since you think there is a difference). It means that I understand that children learn what they live, and living in fear isn’t an option for us. As a parent, I do my best to respond to him in the way I would like to see him respond to others. That is modeling. That is how they learn, and it does not include hurting people.

 

I am not saying that your children are not loving, kind, etc. But I do not believe they were unaffected by your actions. Not everyone who smokes will develop lung cancer, either, but I would still not advocate for the smoking of cigarettes, as there are much better, healthier, and effective ways to cope with stress, just like there are much better, healthier, and way less damaging ways to raise a human.

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Spanking is Hitting, Period

I have heard many cases in defense of spanking your children, and I have addressed ten of them in this article that I wrote a while back.

They are all exhausting, but the one that baffles me the most is when people try to claim that hitting and spanking are not the same thing. Which is basically like saying pushing and shoving are not the same thing.

Let’s look at the definition of spanking:

*see synonyms

Now, let’s look at the definition of hitting:

*see synonyms

I want to drive this home right now. It will be harsh, but it needs to be.

When you spank your child…

YOU ARE HITTING YOUR CHILD.

YOU ARE HURTING YOUR CHILD.

YOU ARE HUMILIATING YOUR CHILD.

YOU ARE USING PHYSICAL FORCE AGAINST YOUR CHILD

YOU ARE COMMITTING AN ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST YOUR CHILD.

Got it?

I know we like to lessen the intensity of reality by coming up with cutesie euphemisms, but in the case of spanking kids, we can no longer afford to do that.

It doesn’t matter where on the body you use force. It doesn’t matter whether or not you leave physical wounds. It doesn’t matter if you were “calm and happy” when you did it. It doesn’t even matter that you managed to cease the unwanted behavior by doing so. You hit your child. Period.

Because let’s try to turn this around.

What if your child hit you?

What if your husband hit you?

What if your friend hit you?

Are any of these okay so long as it didn’t leave a mark?

Or so long as they told you were going to do it before they did it?

What if your husband hit you, and he came to his own defense and said, “well it’s not like I beat you black and blue!”

Does that make it ok? No. You know the answer is no.

You also know that it isn’t ok to ever hit anyone. Not even animals. You probably even tell your children that hitting is not okay.

So HOW did children become the ONLY beings we are allowed to hit? And yes, the ONLY reason you think it is okay to hit children and no one else is because of societal conditioning. Society generally accepts this behavior from adults. You know you will not get in trouble so you think it must be ok. But 52 countries know this isn’t true, which is why they have prohibited spanking.

If you believe for one second that small children (or anyone for that matter) need to be hit in order to do good and learn respect…then that is the saddest thing I have ever heard. What type of reality must one live in to believe people need to be hurt to be good? It is a reality I am so glad I don’t buy into. Humans are so much better than that, trust me. Children learn things like respect when they see the people they look up to being respectful. That includes being respectful to them. They learn what you model. React to them how you want them to react to others. Makes sense, right?

And before you come at me saying that I need to mind my own business and let people parent how they want to parent, I want to tell you that hitting is not parenting.

“Let people parent how they want to parent” is for things like what time your kids go to bed. You cannot say that when you are being violent to children. And I will say this one more time. Hitting anyone is violent. I will defend the right of children over your assumed “right” to hurt them. If someone starves their child of food, do you protest, “let people parent how they want to parent?!”

No. Because at some point we recognize that parental freedom ends when the child is at risk of physical, emotional, and/or psychological harm. Hence why in 52 countries there are laws in place to protect the rights of children.

Maybe (hopefully) by now something has gotten through to you. If not, then maybe nothing will and I feel sad that you feel so adamant to hurt the people you love.

But if you feel the fog lifting a little, I think I know where you might be right now:

“Well then what do I do?!” If I am not spanking them, then how will they listen to me, is what you might be thinking.

This process of unlearning doesn’t happen overnight. Your entire paradigm around children and parenting will have to shift.

  • Connection will have to be your priority above all else.
  • You will have to have a deep understanding for child development and how their brains work.
  • You will have to look at your own trauma that has you choosing to hit your children, and work to heal that.
  • You might have to make decisions that totally rearrange your life in order to make life a more conducive environment for connection and peace.
  • You will have to put “vulnerability” in your parenting toolbox.

Not using any form of punishment to raise humans is totally foreign to those who have never seen it done, or who were not raised that way themselves. It is literally not a foundation of this society. Treating children like humans is, unfortunately, a revolutionary act in this day and age. But it is the most beautiful thing to witness if you just trust the process and trust children.

Three things you can do to begin your journey into becoming a more peaceful and connectable parent:

  1. Read blogs such as Racheous, Janet Lansbury, Alfie Kohn, and Aha Parenting.
  2. Make not hitting your bottom line. No matter what, you will not hit. Time-outs will only be for you to take a deep breath when feeling overwhelmed. You will actively seek any kind of support you need (friends, childcare, therapy, etc.) to become a more peaceful parent.
  3. Read books! There are many good ones here.

Lastly, I offer my parenting mentor services to anyone who finds not hitting/yelling/punishing, etc to be difficult. Please contact me for a no cost initial session if you wish to have a deeper understanding of yourself and your children.

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Are You Disrespecting Your Child with this Type of Attention?

This past weekend was the 4th of July, and I went to visit my mom and her husband with my 2.5 year old.

There were many people there from both sides of the family, and while I don’t blame them (ok, maybe I do a little), I couldn’t help but notice how unconscious so many people are about how they interact with children. I don’t blame them because the very culture we are all brought up in has a fundamental phobia and lack of understanding around children. If you look around, childism is covertly operating all throughout society from the way we speak to kids, to the way we educate them, to the way we don’t allow them to go many places, etc. In this post I want to address the way we speak to them. It is ironic because when people do it, they actually think they are being friendly or engaging the child in a respectful way, but they are actually mocking and belittling them because they are coming from the stance that the child is dumb.

The child being dumb may not be the conscious thought had by the other person, but remember, childism is unconscious, mostly. It is woven into the fabric of society. One (of many) exchanges between my bright 2.5 year old son and another adult went a bit like this:

My son picks up a hat, examines it, and puts it on his head,

Adult immediately gets up in his face and says, “What you got there buddy?! You got a hat? You like putting hats on your head?!”

My son stares back with a furrowed brow.

“Look! I got a hat on, too! Do you like my hat?! Do you have a lot of hats back at home?!”

My son takes the hat off, throws it on the ground and walks away.

“Haha! Well, ok! Fine then…”

Upon first reading this you might think, “What’s the big deal? Seems like a nice guy trying to talk to your kid.”

And yes, I do not doubt the good intentions, but ask yourself, do you think he would have spoken this way to another adult who put a hat on? The likely answer is no. My son was simply minding his own business and modeling what he sees adults do (putting on hats without a fuss) only to get put under a huge microscope and have someone make a big deal about him putting a hat on. I often see that adults have this way of abrasively intervening on children when they are in the midst of things like exploration, thought, and imagination.

Another example is when my son was in the family room alone and totally focused on this helicopter toy. He was completely absorbed in this helicopter and it’s functions when this same adult walked in and exclaimed, “You got a helicopter?! Can you make the noise a helicopter makes?! Can you go WOOOSHWOOSHWOOSH?!”

To which my son replies, “Noooo!”

I know my son enough to know that he isn’t being a brat to this person, he is simply objecting to his abrasive attitude the only way a young child knows how.

Don’t get me wrong. I think attention is a wonderful commodity and the anecdote to so many of the problems that arise with our children. The key is to understand what kind of attention is helping and what kind of attention is hurting.

The type of attention that is hurtful is when the giver of attention (usually an adult when it comes to children) wants something in return. They want a certain response, like for the child to act cute or give them certain feedback. Normally,  I see the adult responding with something like, “fine then,” in a bitter way when the child doesn’t engage back in the way they desire. They come to the child with an agenda to entertain and expect to be entertained back by the child on some level. It is given with the assumption that they are smarter and the child needs their input. That what the child is doing in that moment isn’t “enough” and they need to add more to the situation by asking obvious questions and dumbing themselves down “for the child.” I see this in adult relationships, too. When people dumb themselves down for others, what they are saying is that they don’t trust the other person to “play on their level,” so to speak. This behavior is actually unkind because it doesn’t give the other person the opportunity to learn and grow.

Helpful attention is unconditional and without agenda. It is simply present to where your child is emotionally and open to their feelings and thoughts. It is available when they need it, and it is trusting that when they need it they will ask for it (assuming that they have been made to feel safe in doing so). It is not abrasive and it is not unwarranted. It is understanding that sometimes the most respectful thing you can do is allow space. I know that if my son wanted to show me helicopter noises, he would. Oh boy, would he! He doesn’t need coaxing or prompting. It is a sense of radical trust in your child. That they have their own built in system that tells them when they want you for things like play, presence and attention.

Think of it like this: What if your friend was walking her dog? Would you walk up to her and say, “What you got there, Sarah? Is that a puppy dog?! You like dogs? What do dogs say, Sarah? Can you say, ‘RUFF RUFF!?'”

I won’t even go into how someone tried making my son say, “magic words” before handing him a toy boat that he asked for. That is for another post, but it is important to note the many ways we treat children that we would never dare treating our peers.

“Hey Chantel, can you bring me my book?”

“What do you say, Tim? What are the magic words? C’Mon…what do you sayyy???”

I would never honestly say this to my friend, Tim. So why would I say it to my child?

I understand that some people will think that I am being extreme or thinking too much about this, but I ask that you really consider these ideas. Why do we speak to children so radically different than we do each other? Sure, they don’t fully understand everything that adults do, but they understand so much more than we often give them credit for, including the nuances in how we treat them differently. There are ways that you can speak to them in a way that meets them developmentally, without undermining their intelligence. They might not have the language to explain what is happening for them when we do this, but trust me, they feel it.


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Watch How These Acrobatic, Minimalists Want to Raise Their Kids!

I remember when I was pregnant (and even before) I had all these ideas about how I would raise my future child(ren). I was very passionate about child rearing years before I considered having my own, so research was something that was fun and natural for me. By the time my son was born, I felt very prepared and well-equipped.

One of the most common and frustrating things I would hear from people when I would passionately talk about kids as a non-parent was some version of, “haha, yea! You just wait until you have your own kids! You’ll be singing a different tune.”

It’s true that some things can only be learned and experienced once we become actual parents to another human, but to be honest, I stand true now to everything I thought was important before I had my son. Some things we understand on a deeper level and we don’t need a child to get the biologial and physiological imperatives of raising humans. I call it radical parenting, but truth be told, it is only radical in a world that had bought into the superiority model and commercialized version of parenting. It is actually original parenting before everything else came along.

That’s why I really love Conor and Brittany. They are two people who have put a lot of thought and consideration into having a child before they have gotten pregnant. Consciousness around child raising is something we are seeing more and more of, and it is so refreshing to see two people go down this path, pre-pregnancy. And because their desires for parenting align so much with the message here at Freedom Mama, I wanted to give them credit for their thoughtfulness and share their intentions with you all. I am so excited to watch them become parents. Take a look!

If you want to discover more about Conor and Brittany, make sure you follow them on Youtube and Instagram where they spread the message of health, freedom, sex positivity, partnered acrobatics, minimalism, travel + MORE!

Instagram: @conorandbrittany@simpleliving13

YouTube: Conor + BrittanyBrittanyConor

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Spanking Kids is a Result of Your Pain, Not Their Behavior.

What I am about to say is probably going to upset a lot of people, but…

Hitting children (yes, spanking is hitting) is an extremely childish response that reflects a lack of emotional maturity and self-control. Odds are, if you spank your child, then you, too, were spanked. Therefore, you also were not taught how to regulate emotions. You were taught that you hit when you feel a lot. It is a cycle that is literally hard wired into our brains, and it requires much energy and effort to break the cycle and rewire the way our brain responds.

There’s also a more vulnerable piece here:

….Spanking also reflects the pain you carry. 

This same idea goes for our children. If they are acting in ways that you deem unacceptable or “bad,” it doesn’t mean they are inherently bad, it means they are in pain, having trouble, and struggling with something. You see, children don’t have the capacity to communicate what is going on inside of them, so they act it out through behavior. For an adult who wasn’t taught to identify their emotions and own them as their own, spanking or swatting is, unfortunately, the easiest way to respond to a child who has triggered us. We are literally being exactly like a child when we hit. We are in our child minds because we were not taught a better way.

I believe that things like anger and frustration are surface emotions. If you can go a layer or two deeper, you will almost always feel more tenderness and sadness or something that feels more vulnerable. This is true for children as well. It is our job as adults to identify the deeper feeling that is driving the “bad” behavior, not join them in their chaos. For example, if your child runs out into the street, for most of us, the immediate feeling is anger and frustration. But beneath that it is fear. We fear for our child’s life because they could get really hurt, or worse, and that is scary because we love and care about them so deeply and couldn’t imagine life without them. That is the more vulnerable truth. That is what will connect you to your child. That is the message you can send to them in one way or another and have them actually feel you. They don’t need pain to feel you. They can feel love, too. The question is, how committed can you be to letting your guard down enough to let them feel your heart, instead of your hand?

I know many parents will laugh and claim that their child won’t listen to a firm, yet loving, authentic response. To that I asked, have you ever tried? Also, laughing is a defense mechansim when something feels vulnerable, which is what I am talking about here. It requires us to change on a fundamental level, and that is scary because it pokes at our identity to self (assuming you are like me and were not brought up to express authentically and vulnerably).

If I could tell every parent who chooses spanking as a tool to correct behavior ONE THING, it would be this:

Spanking has nothing to do with the behavior of your child, and everything to do with your inability to cope with how it triggers your own emotions. Spanking is also easier when you take the behavior personally and think that it means something about you. Me vs. Them mentality.

So what can you do?

I think the most important steps to take are ones that totally rearrange your perspective on toddler/child behavior. We have to have a basis of understanding of the inner workings of a child’s mind to have the incentive to choose a better route. If we are simply committed to the school of thought that says, “kids are just brats,” then yea, everyone wants to smack a brat.

Here are a few ideas that you can start to adopt that will really help you when it is feeling intense with your child:

Parenting is a long game: 

So knock it off with the things that only get you short term results. Sure, spanking “works,” as in, it puts a stop to unwanted behavior, but stealing also works if I want something from the grocery store. I get the thing I want in the moment, but it isn’t the best way to go about it. Not to mention, I am left with feelings of paranoia and guilt that bleed into all other areas of my life. So yes, parenting is a long game. You are in this for the long haul, so commit to the dilligent work that it takes to raise a human. Hitting is lazy. Parenting takes a lot of time and energy. Explaining over and over, getting on their level, communication, repetition are all required for children. They are not supposed to “get it” the first time, or even the second or third. They are brand new to this world and don’t come with all the concepts and understandings that adults have. They have to learn it and it takes time. You might have to explain it twenty times. That is normal. It doesn’t mean they don’t listen, it just means they are still figuring it all out. If they are older then they might be testing boundaries. This is also normal and I would be worried if my child was so docile that he never tested boundaries. I am an adult and I still test the boundaries of those around me. You can simply state what you see and hold to your boundaries. This is how you establish trust.

There is actually nothing wrong with a tantrum:

Isn’t this great news?! I cannot tell you how many times I have heard parents justify hitting because their child is throwing a tantrum. Again, there is nothing wrong with it, so you are free of the obligation to end it. You can just let them have it. I know. What a relief, right?

Look, I get it. Many of us were raised to believe that our emotions in their fullest (and even mildest) expressions were unwanted and a problem. I am here to tell you, they are not, and so, neither are your child’s. Feelings happen. They don’t have the brain capacity to regulate emotions (see next point). The greatest gift you can give your child is the permission to feel their feelings. If you do, chances are they won’t be an adult who grows up unable to show emotion, only to later take it out on their kids who trigger them.

“But what about if we are in public?!”

Then get right with yourself. That feeling of embarrassment and the urgency to make it stop this instant has nothing to do with your child. Those are your feelings based on your beliefs about what it means about you to have an upset child. I think if you develop an undertanding into what is going on in those moments, it makes it less embarrassing.

Toddlers and young children don’t have fully developed brains:

They literally cannot help their behavior much of the time. They are dominated by their right brain, for starters. They don’t fully develop the left brain traits of logic and control until later. Their outbursts and doing things you told them not to is not because they are brats. They literally cannot control it. Here is a quote from the book, ‘The Whole-Brain Child’, by Dr. Dan Siegel:

“when a child is upset, logic often won’t work until we have responded to the right brain’s emotional needs.”

So if your child is not “listening” to your words, ask yourself if you are listening to their emotional needs that their behavior is reflecting in that moment.

For a more in depth understanding of your child’s brain development and how it influences their behavior, please read this book!

Your child is not giving you a hard time. Your child is having a hard time:

Make this like your mantra. When you are feeling out of control and wanting to yell or hit, remind yourself of this. It takes you out of the me vs. them mentality and allows you to feel compassion for them. It also calls for you to seek solutions because you see that they are having a problem. If you can recognize that their behavior isn’t to be taken personally, then you can see them objectively and act from there, rather than from a victimized position.

The point of parenting is not to control another person, anyway:

andy-parents-behavior

Somewhere along the way we adopted the idea that our jobs as parents is about controlling these tiny humans and making sure they are obedient. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to raise an obedient child. That doesn’t mean I allow him to call all the shots and run amok, either. It simply means that I am perfectly fine with him questioning and challenging everyone and everything, including me. If you have a particularly bold child, be thankful, and learn how to play, negotiate and encourage cooperation there. Look at where it is hard to let go of the idea that our children need to be acting “perfect” at all times. How does it make YOU feel when they don’t? How were you treated when you acted in a way that made your parents uncomfortable? How did it feel?

“Morality is doing what’s right no matter what you’re told. Obedience is doing what you’re told no matter what’s right.” – H.L. Mencken

Punishment or making someone pay is not necessary in order to learn lessons:

We have this really unfortunate idea in our culture that children can only learn through pain and punishment. I have even heard, “If you don’t punish your kids, how do they learn?!”

The same way you learn. Natural consequences, cause and effect, and having people around you that you can trust to tell you how you affect them. It is actually sad and very telling of people’s view of their own self-worth when they believe pain is required to teach a lesson. It suggests revenge and retaliation as the preferred method of teaching. Discipline (coming from the word ‘disciple’) means, “to teach”, and we know humans can be taught without being hurt in the process. Of course, this requires a certain amount of skill and emotional intelligence from the parents, which can be lacking if they, too, were not treated respectfully as children.

If it doesn’t promote connection, drop it:

If your actions create disconnection between you are your child then they are not worth carrying out. I know many people like to claim that hitting makes kids respect you, but it does not. No one respects anyone who hits them. No one. They might fear you and comply because they are afraid, but that is not respect. Our ultimate goal in parenting should be to maintain connection with our child. Choose actions and words that reflect that, and remember, you can still be firm and set boundaries and maintain connection, just like you might with your spouse. It is what will have them trusting that they can come to you later in life when issues arise.

“to enter into a state of pure connection with your child, you can achieve this by setting aside any sense of superiority.”
Shefali Tsabary, The Conscious Parent

The hard part about conscious parenting is that if we are going to connect to our child’s emotions, it means that we have to connect with our own, and so many of us spend a lifetime avoiding that. Knowing that your child can be a reflection of yourself and your own pain isn’t always easy to witness, but it is rewarding in the end, for both you and your children.

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