Other than memes and online articles, I don’t do a lot of reading up on parenting styles or philosophies. I have to say, though, that I really enjoyed reading Positive Parenting: An essential guide. It took a few tries to get through, not because I wasn’t interested, but because spending my day with three little balls of energy and keeping up with everything else means the moment I sit still at the end of the night- I’m asleep. But I finally, very enthusiastically, started reading it for a fourth time and finished! So, here are a couple of my thoughts/reflections on the book along with small excerpts for those of you who’d like to read the book but probably won’t get around to it. I got you.
1. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my new parenting style could actually be categorized as Positive Parenting!
a. It’s not completely a coincidence. As I’ve been maneuvering through this new approach of more patience and self control, I have been following every possible Facebook page that provides me with daily reminders of who and how I’d like to be because, let’s be honest, I take a few more peeks at Facebook during the day then I’d like to admit so I may as well use it for good! Since I started following a variety of positive meme and parenting pages, Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond came up as a suggestion and I followed it too. I love this page. I have loved almost every single article that they have shared and the creator of the page is the author of this book. So, she was promoting it and it peaked my interest so I ordered it along with a few of my homeschool books. The number one reason I feel like this style best suits me is because it requires constant introspection. It focuses on being who you want your children to be and that is truly my goal. To be their role model. If I want them to be kind, then I must be kind to them. If I want them to be respectful then I must respect them.
b. Positive parenting is not to be confused with permissive parenting. This is a very important distinction. Permissive parents give in to their kids demands, however unreasonable, or allow misbehavior without proper intervention. Positive parents address the reasons behind the behavior and provide unconditional love and support but stay firm in what they expect of their little ones. For example, if my child wants a toy at the store and, after I say no (and explain why- even briefly) she throws a tantrum, I take a moment to realize that she’s having a hard time with her emotions and give her a hug and tell her I’m sorry that she’s sad about the toy….but she still doesn’t get the toy. One thing that I learned from the book is the fact that she doesn’t get the toy is enough. I don’t have to go back and talk about it and I have to refrain from lecturing her in the moment or asking her not to cry. I just have to be there for her and give her love- and stay firm on my position without rubbing it in her face and making it worse for her. That takes a lot of effort on my part. I SO want to revisit it and talk about the situation after we get home or before we go out again- but it’s unnecessary.
2. My top three takeaways:
a. We have to change the way we think about our children. If you really think about it, our language surrounding children is mostly negative. We talk about them like they’re these little nuisances that we have to deal with. Sometimes before a kid is anywhere near 2 years old, people start saying things like “omg they’ve already started their terrible twos” then there is “threenager” and “fearsome fours”. I’ve heard friends call their kids “a-holes” and “sh** disturbers” among other things. Why? Where did this come from? I’m guilty of this too and it really hit me like a ton of bricks to think about how it just crept in without me realizing. It’s just a regular parenting thing to do now but I hate it. I don’t want that. I adore my children and I want to give them the respect they deserve. Just like anything else, if we change our way of thinking we are able to change our approach. Excerpt: Unfortunately, the way children are viewed in our culture has caused us to relate to them poorly. We perceive attention seeking where there is only a desire to connect, clinginess where there is only a motive for love, disobedience where there is only a will to learn, and defiance where there is only a need to grow. We view them as manipulative, conniving, and selfish, and we base our interactions with them on those views.
b. Kids are not manipulative. Duh, right? But again, think about it. We have these amazing tiny beings who we love and cuddle and care for but very early on, from one day to the next, we are convinced that they are manipulating us into doing things for them. We are told not to rock them to sleep or hold them when they cry. We are conditioned to see their instinctual behaviors as a way for them to control our lives and we do all that we can to stop it before it begins. That’s INSANE! Again, I couldn’t even believe that I fell for this. My poor first born came into this world fighting all my preconceived notions. My poor baby probably didn’t feel loved in the way I wanted her to feel loved because I was trying to control her emotions for her. It isn’t something I enjoy thinking about but it’s important that I do…which brings me to final takeaway….
c. In order to be good parents we need to heal our pasts. It’s extremely important that we understand our own (and our spouse’s) feelings and reactions and how deeply they are rooted in us. This book provides discussion questions at the end of each chapter that I really appreciated. Full disclosure: My husband and I didn’t do them together like we were supposed to but we have been together a while and have had more than many parenting discussion so there were no questions I felt we hadn’t already discussed to some degree. Nonetheless, I do still plan on going back and touching base with them at some point in the near future because things can change.
1) Do you feel the pressure for your children to behave like adults, especially in public? Does their childish behavior embarrass you? Is it their behavior or your expectation that is really the problem?
2) How do you speak about your children to others in front of them? Are your words uplifting or crushing?
3) Will you commit to looking for and pointing out the goodness of those you love?
What Positive Parenting comes down to is, taa- daa, the positivity. We have to think of our children in a positive light. We need to surround ourselves with positive people who will encourage and support us with positivity. We need to flip our negative language into positive language. Life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies and we all know that there are times on our low days that we’d like to just throw our hands up to the heavens and give up- but we can’t. So we may as well try our hardest! We may as well take it one day at a time and muster up all the positive energy we have to create, through practice and consistency, a truly positive being within us for the sake of our little ones. It probably won’t happen in one day and there will DEFINITELY be setbacks. But if every morning we wake up with intention of just one day of positivity, one day will turn to many days before we know it. Many days will turn to a year and a year will then turn into their childhood….and isn’t that what we really want?