I’ve Come A Long Way

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), and her partner Daddy G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

I had a bad day today. Yesterday too. This was caused by a disagreement I had with my significant other and although an action plan for resolution was developed I was still feeling pretty cranky about it. I have to admit I was unpleasant and some things that would not normally upset me as much really made me mad. My older son stayed up all night playing video games but left all the lights on in the house all night. There was an issue where I became short and upset and I was kinda yelly. I don’t mean to be but sometimes I forget myself. Many people would tell me that this is fine. My cup needed filling and my unmet needs were manifesting in yelling at people I care about; that once in a while is forgivable and I should not feel too bad as long as I apologize. There are others that may say I was not setting a good example and I should not be showing my children such an undesirable way to behave; that I should have never let it get to that point in the first place.

The Truth is, They are Both Right

There was a time in my life where this foul mood would have set me off for days and I would yell and scream and not be able to control myself. I wasn’t really in control. As a child I was not given the tools to control my emotions nor was I given an example of how things are supposed to be. My parents were yellers. The rage yelling is all me though. So many years of suppression of emotions damaged my ability to control that part of my anger without some recognition and desire to be different. This desire to be different came recently. I wanted to stop yelling and try to learn a little patience. And learning some self-control has been rocky, but it is coming.

So Where Did It Come From?

One concept helped me more than anything else with understanding how to control myself. That concept is Self-Ownership. I am in control. My Step Father used to say, “You are in control of your own destiny,” mostly when he wanted to sound wise, but this ultimate truth is what led me to realize that it is no longer some one else’s fault. Everything I do is all me. I am an adult and it was time I started acting like the adult I wanted to be. I am in control. I do something great, I own it. I am proud and try to build on that, but if I do something not so great, I own that, too. How else are we going to grow and change if we do not take ownership of our faults too?

We Cannot, That’s How

There was once a time where I was so unpleasant for a long periods that my partner challenged me to 30 days without yelling at him. I almost wish I could go back to my younger self and tell her that there is a more peaceful future at my own fingertips if I only let it happen. Disappointment in life and almost every situation led me to be so cantankerous, but the problem is not disappointment, it was expectation and bad communication. I had to learn not to have expectations of others that I did not specifically outline and to communicate my intentions and expectations better. And I’m improving at that. It is happening for me but now because of so many years of bad control and blaming others for my lack of happiness I am starting to see how it affected my older son growing up. He has little self-control and visibly suppresses anger when he is mad for one reason or another.

He’s a Teen so These Emotions are Exacerbated, But…

Because of my lack of control he not only learned that that behavior is acceptable, he also suffered like I did through the episodes of verbal abuse and fury of his parent. And that is sad because it is not a cycle I would have wanted to pass on if I knew I was going to. Its sad only now I’m realizing this. I am just beginning to be the person I want to be and its not too late for my older son. Which is great. My younger son however will benefit greatly for having a Mother that realized she really was in control of her own destiny.

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They’re Catching On

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), and her partner Daddy G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

Its working! There was a news article this week at CNN that describes in a scientific, no nonsense way about how spanking children decreases their ability to control themselves because it decreases the amount of grey matter, a type of brain tissue, that forms which helps them self-regulate. In my opinion there are many things wrong with spanking a child and the first and foremost is because it is damaging to their healthy development. There are many countries around the world that have laws that protect children from this kind of harm but in America there seems to be almost a blindness to the problem.

“And that’s what’s wrong with kids these days…”

Have you heard this one? I have heard this followed by some of the most ridiculous statements. There is nothing wrong with teaching real respect instead of fear. There is nothing wrong with teaching a child a little empathy and compassion. These are the traits that take a child into adulthood prepared for their life ahead. Teaching a child to fear punitive punishment damages their ability and desire to self-regulate. This puts in them a sense of outside control, therefore they can actually believe that they act because of outside forces, not because they desired to perform or react in a certain way. An example of this would be blaming a sibling for having to walk over gravel when they were the one that chose to not put their shoes on when they went to go fetch them. This self-control is exactly the thing that is so valuable for mature adult life, and spanking and shaming really do contribute to an imbalance in this development.

“But I was spanked and I’m just fine…”

Okay, I’m pulling out the old hat example of how these things are passed along, but there needs to be an end to the cycle. Moms raise children who have children. Parents are trusted and advice is asked. This is fine and great for small things: diaper changes, and pajama choices, but there needs to be clear instruction on how to parent without the use of violence and threats to control. The reason there needs to be clear guidelines and help in place for instruction and support is because so many of us adults are taught that children are annoying bothers to be dealt with. I say we change that old way of thinking and start really giving our children the start in life they deserve.

Because after all, spanking and shaming are a form of bullying and no one likes a bully…

Parents that spank teach their children through behavior modeling that is its okay to hit others and shame them in front of their peers. Embarrassment can have severe lasting effects just like spanking, but can be made public which can give other bullies ammunition for tearing others down. Spanking is about anger and loss of control. If a parent were taught to regulate their own emotions then the children watching them would too.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of science that says spanking and other punitive punishment is harmful to children. Unfortunately there is a large gap between what is known and what is practiced. There is a great battle to be fought if we are going to protect all children. Until then it is our job to continue to spread knowledge and model understanding and gentle parenting to those that need the role model and instruction.

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Learning A Little Disappointment

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), and her partner Daddy G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

Life can be rough sometimes. As adults we go through our lives and face many small disappointments throughout the day. The pop machine is out of our caffeine infusion of choice. We sigh and pick another one and move on. We get stuck in traffic and that is never fun. There are so many trials every day that thinking of them can make the head spin. In the morning the milk is gone, or my personal favorite, with just a few drops left in the container, or our mascara runs dry. These are frustrating things. Frustration is an emotion that many people are familiar with for most people are not so relaxed and ‘go with the flow’ types that they seldom feel its heavy weight. Children seem to feel disappointment more keenly than adults. Sometimes to the point that it seems silly to adults, but they sure do seem to be going through some things sometimes don’t they? And what do they do? They cry. They sometimes throw things and throw a fit and sometimes get very worked up.

Why do They Do This? Is it to Drive Us Crazy?

Of course not, but it sure seems like it sometimes. So as an adult what do you do? A parent that uses more ‘traditional’ parenting methods may get angry and begin yelling. They may even begin hitting their children. I’ve been victim to it; it happens. This parent may even say things like “I’ll give you something to cry about!” It is apparent in these methods that some parents were once children with very bad examples themselves. What is the culprit here? Lack of self control and patience and lack of a model of preferable behavior.

These children that are having troubles and that are met without compassion are truly at a disadvantage in life. Disappointment is a real feeling. Something that has to be worked through by those small minds and understood. If a child is made to repress those feelings and learns that their feelings and desires are not valid, they may have a harder time processing emotion as an adult and may even have trouble making decisions based on personal desire and not desire to please. Desire to please is tricky. A child may learn the desire to please the adults in its life but that may lead to something innocent as indecisiveness over a dinner location or much more dangerous than that; create a person that is so trained to repress emotion and disappointment they become a victim in their relationships.

That is a Huge Jump Though

So lets focus on some alternatives to traditional parenting methods for dealing with tantrums rooted in disappointment. Staying calm is the best thing a parent can do when a small child is experiencing big emotions. This provides a model of behavior to discuss and practice so that your child can reach a calm state where some reason can be resumed. Speak gently to a child that wants that cookie. Tell her that you understand that she wants the cookie and that you think cookies are delicious too, but that lunch comes first so if she wants the cookie she must eat some lunch. Then provide a safe place for her to process those feelings and return to calm. This gives the child a sense of security. As the child grows older a parent can talk about times when they have been disappointed. This is a powerful tool to help them understand that although there is disappointment it does not have to ruin a perfectly good day. Modeling this behavior is another tool. When a parent is disappointed in a child a conversation can be started about how even though you are disappointed you still love them unconditionally. This sets them up for success later when they have children that are having big emotions that seem silly. And another powerful tool to help children deal with disappointment is empathy and validation. Communicate that their desires are appropriate and valid. “I understand you want that cookie. Cookies are delicious. Mommy wants a cookie too but she hasn’t eaten her lunch yet. Now do you want to sit here with Mommy and eat so we can have cookies together?” Communication is essential for them to understand what is going on in their little brains.

Kids are Going to Face Disappointment

That is reality. Adults have more self control so we don’t express it as much but adults are allowed to be disappointed and so too should children be so that they can learn that the world does not end because they are disappointed. I don’t teach my son to share. Why? Because in the real world people get together and if someone refuses to let you borrow something you want you are not going to throw a fit. No, probably you should not have asked in the first place. I encourage my son to share his toys, but I teach him that it is okay to be disappointed if someone is playing with something that they do not want to share. I also teach him that if he does not feel like sharing he does not have to because its his stuff, but that is another discussion.

My Thoughts on the Subject

I think kids should be taught to handle disappointment. I believe it will help to solve entitlement issues that have seemed to develop over the last couple decades here in America. If I model appropriate behavior and stay calm during ‘I want something’ tantrums then my son will learn how to act when another person, or his child is throwing a fit or at the very least understand why he just cannot have everything that he desires. I believe that setting boundaries and sticking to them is best for my family but I am also very caring and comforting during these difficult times as well. I do what I can to mitigate disappointment as much as I can and am dong the best I can with everything else that comes our way.

What are your thoughts on entitlement and teaching children to handle disappointment?

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When Did That Happen?

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), and her partner Daddy G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

My older son is fourteen years old. He is a typical teen: he smells bad, looks greasy, would exist on junk food if he could and lives on video game time. Pretty typical. He is also graduating Junior High in a few days! When did that happen? This child makes me very proud. He has been though more than I ever wished him to although he did have a better upbringing than mine. I have explained before that I only recently found radical attentive patenting (or attachment parenting) and wish I could go back and change many situations in his life.

Some Things You Don’t Even Realize Will Be Harmful

I wish I could change the spanking. I cannot. With the spanking came yelling and shaming. These are terribly damaging things to children and the side effects can last a lifetime. I wish I could change schooling and homeschool him. My older son had a rough time in school even back in daycare. He was the kid that got bit, and the kid that acted out. He was not singled out many times, but his inability to sit still was a detriment. He had to go to daycare so I could work and go to school as I was a young Mom. I wish I could change his nutritional path; breastfeeding past a few months after bad advice from my then doctor, but the thing I would change if I had only one thing to do all over again would be to not have been away from him so much. I thought I had to at the time. This made him very insecure. Separation anxiety lead to real stress when he was younger although he always calmed once I had been gone a while. It didn’t help that I didn’t sleep with him, but we did room share out of necessity, but even still he had very little attachment to me even though I didn’t know it.

But Let’s Zoom Past Early Childhood

Once my older son hit about 5th grade he began to catch up to his peers. He was always a bit delayed, but not tremendously so. The previous year he was put on the Asperger’s spectrum (although later he was taken off) and given an IEP which basically admits that not all children learn in the homogenous classroom and need other options. He would cycle during the school year between compliant, eager and resistant. Later after he was taken off the spectrum he was given a diagnosis of oppositional defiant disorder, ODD. They call this a disorder, but when I did my research I found this was no disorder at all, this was the result of his traditional upbringing. Mistrust of authority, not complying with rules or circumstances even to his detriment, and no intrinsic motivation to do much of anything let alone what some authority figure tells him: these all stem from his detachment and negative attention. Kids learn to believe they only deserve negative attention so they will seek it out to fill their need. I wish I could have given him the love he needed to overcome those issues.

But There Are Things I Would Not Change

My son is a giver. At least before teen age set in. He would give his last anything to the people he cared about. He would willingly give hugs and kisses to his family and he loved to cuddle. He would always share his Halloween candy with his friends and family and was never greedy about it. And he is so loving. He is chill too. Often times as long as we talk about the things we are going to do in a day before he sets his heart on video games for the whole day and I can convince him to help do a chore or two before he leaves for la la land. He is a good person. He needs to be reminded once in a while to not be offensive while his brother is in the room, but on the whole this is a kid that would be a really great friend if he had the developed social skills to do so. That by the way is another aspect of traditional parenting that I have learned is harmful for a child’s future.

Even Though He Is Older I Am Now Trying To Make Our Connections

As I parent of my younger son I feel bad sometimes because my older son sees the way I am with him. The old techniques I ask him to not use. I can see his brain thinking they were good enough for him, so I have had that conversation with him a few times. I have told him he did not deserve the treatment he got as a child, but that I really didn’t know better. He kind of understands, but it is going to take a while to really understand fully, and that is okay. There is still culture that exists between us that I am moving to change. These things are triggers from my childhood I’m guessing. I was always yelled at and shown no patience and that comes out in our interactions sometimes. I am working every day to not yell and think with empathy which is actually happening. Slowly, but happening still. I am learning to think about situations from his point of view and giving patience. I have to try really hard because it does not come natural to me but I’m getting there and Joe will end up growing up to be an exemplary adult male. Of that I am positive.

To Sum Up My Point

It is not too late. We can watch our children grow up or we can actively participate in their upbringing. It does make a difference in their lives, but its never too late to try attached, gentle parenting. I would even say if your children are adults it is still not too late to begin the process of attachment so that you can really enjoy any grandchildren that come along. For the last two and a half years I have been working to educate and empower myself for my children. No, I did not start as early as I now wish I had, but we cannot change the past we can only shape the future. Its your future. Shape it. Model it and make the world a better place for future generations. It can happen.

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The Power Of Saying Yes

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), and her partner Daddy G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

Yes is a powerful word for parents. The power of yes can open up whole new worlds for a child and parent. When a parent says yes, trust is built and a child learns value in his or her own thoughts and feelings. Yes can build confidence, yes can build respect, and yes can build patience; these all for both parent and child. As parents we are always saying no and seldom do we say yes, but I had to ask myself one day why I was always saying no. I would say no to playing outside at inappropriate times, inappropriate snacks, toys, and other ideas my little ones (and not so little one) would ask for. I said no for the same reason so many parents say no. Its what we know. But then about a year ago I happened upon a concept and my family life hasn’t been the same since.

I Stopped Saying No

If someone had just said stop saying no and gave me no context I would have been perplexed, but after really thinking about what it meant to stop saying no I really understood. Saying no all the time was damaging the parent-child relationship. I learned that cutting a child off without validating their request was part of the problem. Children cannot communicate fully with us, even the ones that have a fuller vocabulary, or use reason all the time so when they ask “Can I have these cookies Mom?” or something like that they are not thinking that it may be close to a meal time; they are thinking cookies are good, so I want some cookies. Sometimes we forget that as adults, and just say no without an explanation. The child then may not understand and feel that it was an arbitrary decision when in fact there is a completely sound reason that may not have been communicated with the word no. Even not now isn’t really enough for younger children.

So I Started Saying Yes

Children will always have unreasonable demands and inappropriate requests and they way we handle them will shape their future and how they process the world around them. When I started saying yes I did not give in to every demand and whim as you may be thinking. Nope, what I did was take the suggestion of the method and created a yes environment. This took a lot of work, but as my small toddler became more independent the more I saw the value in our yes environment. We rearranged the furniture so that it was non-obstructive which meant no living room table as we were accustomed to for drinks, magazines and such, and other changes. We toddler proofed with all that soft striping on edges of things and padded corners of all the tables in his area. We made sure that if there was climbing to be done it was set up safely to lessen the falling and so many other things like that. We put away our decorative glassware and other knick knacks we had accumulated while not having a toddler and pretty much rearranged our whole house. This yes environment opened up his play area and gave him plenty to explore safely while we moved about our day.

And Its Hard to Say Yes All the Time

Once I began saying yes and stopped saying no I had to be more creative than ever. Now when prompted with unreasonable requests I had to really think about and learn to communicate with my small child which is much harder than just saying no. There are better responses than no. Yes, you may have that popsicle, but pretty soon we are going to have dinner so you may have it, just not now. And then because he’s two we have to have a conversation about how its okay to want something really bad but sometimes we have to wait. This is a longer process which takes the time to validate the child’s feelings. After all, popsicles are delicious, who wouldn’t want a popsicle?, but now is just not the right time for treats. Then we talk about what times are good for treats. Talking to a toddler like this gives them the tools necessary to really understand all about the world around them. Now, just like saying no, telling a child that yes they can do something but have to wait may cause a sudden outburst of emotion. We call them tantrums, but in reality the child is just trying to process his emotions and may be overwhelmed by what he or she is feeling. As the parent we can talk them through what they are feeling and give them the words if needed without giving in to the original request. We can tell them that it is okay to feel angry and that you are there for them to help them process and recover. Give lots of hugs during this time even if your first reaction is to yell and tell them to stop acting that way. Small children just do not have the emotional control that adults do so even though it may not seem like it, they are having a hard time, not trying to give their parent one.

The Power Of Yes

I was raised in a family that yelled all the time and used the phrase “because I said so” more often than explaining the real reason I was not allowed to do the things I wanted to do. I found this a very unsatisfactory answer and would drive my Mom nuts asking the same question over and over again. Now, if she had used this technique on me I believe she would have saved herself (and me) many yelling sessions. I was usually good once I understood a situation, but phrases like no and “because I said so” are barriers in communication and left me with more questions than I started with because I wanted to know why I was being told no. With my own children I had already decided to not use “because I said so” but now I have some of the tools to reap the benefits of fully explaining the world to my children. Once I understood the root idea of saying yes my home life changed. I even use it on my teen now, in a moderated way, and it is helping bridge communication gaps with us as well as my toddler. Now when he asks why he has to clean his closet out I explain that it needs to be easily accessible because his closet has the access hatch for the roof instead of “because I said so” which is much more motivating. Saying yes has had a profound impact on my life and family happiness. It takes a lot of work but it certainly has brought us closer together as a family, and that will always be worth it to me.

For more information on creating a yes environment or saying yes, please visit the web for a wealth of information. Just search “creating a yes environment”. Dr. Sears has some pretty interesting things to say here but there is a lot more out there.

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Grabbing the Zen: It Makes A Difference

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“Balancing on My Toes” is an original column appearing every other Friday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Angel M. Ethell. Angel lives in the Chicagoland area with her family: sons Teen (13) and Lil G (2) along with their little sister Cassie Pie (dog), her partner Daddy G and father-in-law Grandpa G. She loves learning new things along with learning that she might not always be right… 100% of the time. Archived columns can be found here. BMT-only RSS feed available here.

There are many new skills to master, or even fumble with when becoming a parent. There are so many new experiences parents can’t even fathom let alone be prepared for. Advice, wanted or unwanted, gets thrown at new parents at lightening speeds and it is enough to make their heads spin. Chaos and confusion often reign in these households and along with the constant sleep deprivation a new parent is likely to break down and scream. This screaming is okay for a little while, but eventually their children will need them again and that parent has two choices: to calm down enough be in control and collected, or stay in a stressed state and negatively affect their children through lack of control.

A Choice, Huh? Screw You!

I’d say that too in the heat of the moment, but in all reality this is true. I say choice because as the adult we have the ability (or at least most do) to stop and think things through. Children are not capable of this until their teen years and even then this ability is new and inconsistent, but as adults we can decide to stop and think before we become too upset. This is a skill that is learned through observation and some adults that did not learn this in childhood will have more difficulty grasping this skill in adulthood. Many adults act badly. There are even TV shows about it, but the reason people are entertained by them is because they like to judge them against their own lives. It is easy to feel like one has it all together when watching Bridezillas, Jerry Springer or some other such nonsense.

What Does This Have To Do with Parenting?

Children learn by example. They will do everything their parents do because they are the end all and be all to those kids. Parents that are emotionally stressed and not caring for their mental health may be doing their children harm without even realizing it. It is easy to become stressed and overworked; this leads to possibly yelling more often, acting in non-desirable behaviors such as snapping at others and arguing. All of these are negative things for children to model after. Stress symptoms can be insidious. A child may pick up a behavior that does not even manifest until they are yelling at their own children in a similar situation. A trigger that will be set off one day and that person may not even know that it is a learned behavior. That person may believe that those feelings are their own, which can cause some real guilt (this is me) until one day it will click and the memory will come back. It will be natural because that is how their parents cared for them, and the cycle will continue.

But It Does Not Nave To Be This Way

So what is missing? What are these new parents not getting? What are these children not learning? That self-care is important. Self-care is so important. If we take the same parent child pair and follow a different path we can see where self-care can change the outcome from negative to positive. Many people become stressed from unmet needs and desires. Those needs can be something as seemingly easy as getting enough rest and good nutrition, to having some self-reflection time everyday, to just having some self-time at all, to really do anything. Plenty of rest is usually pretty hard to come by as a new parent, but all is not lost. There are many ways to care for and re-energize for a parent and we are going to talk about some of these things. This is important for a few reasons. The big one of course being that it can help stabilize a person’s mood, which leads to a more peaceful household, it allows a parent to feel good about themselves and not like crap because they yelled at the kids again, and maybe more importantly keeping calm or recovering calm will teach children coping skills and problem solving skills.

What Does Self-Care Look Like?

It can be as simple as showering everyday, which as all parents know it may not be so simple, or as complex as planning some time away. Some easy things a person can start with right away for self-care is to stop speaking negatively about themselves. If they do not feel “worth it” they may not try at all. The second thing is to realign expectations. This is not as easy as it sounds and may require some work. A parent may feel stressed because their expectations are not realistic. This happens more than people talk about and can lead to negative situations. For example, a small child should not be expected to go with out food for an extended period, and if this does happen, the parent should be prepared for a melt down. If the parent is aware of the limitations they will not be so easy to anger and lash out. In my last column I talked about patience; it is hard to be patient without full understanding, but understanding can really help a parent stay calm. Plenty of sleep for new parents is really important. There is such a rush to “get back to normal” that many parents don’t give themselves enough time to get their normal back. Pretty soon housework is getting neglected, friends and family may fall to the wayside and huge guilt about it is accumulated. Realistically new parents should not expect themselves to “get back to normal” for quite some time and should try to get all the rest they can during (in my opinion) the first whole year. Yoga, meditation, and laughter are all really great fillers for those cups and should be used liberally. Partners that really connect can help each other with self-care. “I see you’re looking tired, I’ll play with the kids while you nap” should be heard often and when one partner is weakened by stress or something else the other should be there to help lift them back up. Manicures, massages, and a night out if desired once in a while also go a long way to becoming balanced as well. All of these, and many more, self-care techniques can lead to a more peaceful household.

What is the Result of That?

Children who are taught these skills early in life will be better able to adjust to outside stressors, and will benefit from the levelheadedness they posses later in life, whether in business or family. They will have watched their parents caring for themselves which will lead to self-respect and confidence. A self-respecting teen may not fall into peer pressure traps and as an adult will be able to avoid situations that are not in their best interest. A self-respecting person will not let others treat them as undeserving, because they know they are not. There are many benefits to providing the same level of care as a parent does for its child to themselves and it is so worth it for both parent and child. Children of parents that practice self-care will be rewarded with many life skills and the parents will be rewarded with a strong connection to their children throughout their lives that may not have been possible in a more stressed, chaotic environment.

I am no expert. All of this has come from research and anecdotal evidence. Plus my own experience. I needed a bastion of good and calm and I found gentle parenting. I have personally learned so much and have grown as a person and as a parent exponentially. I have seen both sides and I have had to learn to do what helps me so that I can be that parent my boys deserve. I may stay up a bit late into the night to spend time alone and I may spend a lot of time prepping and preparing meals, but I have to have me time, enough sleep and good nutrition to keep bad Mommy at bay. And so I do these things, and as my children grow these techniques will change and develop. I am forever grateful to the gentle parenting community and all it has taught me about being the best Mommy I can be.

What are some things you do to care for yourselves? What helps you keep your cup full?

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