To all of you lovely mamas and papas out there who have embraced this philosophy, shifted paradigms, and parent positively, I want to give a warm hug and a hello. But I’m writing this post tonight for the rest of you who may have stumbled here by accident, or who are here intentionally because you are curious but skeptical about this whole positive parenting thing.
I bet those hopes are not far off from what you want for your child(ren) too?
It might surprise you to know that I didn’t start out a positive parent. I got some things right; I got some things wrong. I took parenting advice from popular parenting magazines and my doctors. They knew it all, right? I did form a strong attachment, always responded to their cries, met their needs, but as far as attachment parenting or positive parenting…never heard of it.
It wasn’t until my baby became a toddler and I had to figure out how to “make him mind” that I stumbled across this philosophy. I didn’t buy into it overnight, either. I didn’t use physical punishment because that felt instinctively wrong to me, even though I’d experienced it in my own childhood, but I certainly dished out the time outs, the threats, the bribes, the withdrawal of toys. And it wasn’t working.
That’s why I started Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond. Not because I had the answers, but because I was looking for them, and I figured if I was looking them, others were probably looking too, and I could share what I was finding.
And I found a lot.
My reaction at first to this philosophy was skepticism. “Yeah, that’s going to work” I thought. *sarcasm* Yet, something I read struck a cord with me.
I was drawn to read more, and it started resonating with me, this idea that I could raise respectful, happy, well-rounded human beings without the punishments, adversities, constant power struggles, and rebellion, but through connection, attachment, relationship. I began to strip away the layers of ideals and misconceptions that my upbringing, my family, my culture had driven into me about how children should be raised.
It was a long process. I’m still working on it, to be honest. I’m still working on me.
There are a couple of things that skeptics or people resistant to positive parenting always say. One is that we are permissive and don’t discipline our kids, and the other is that we are raising entitled brats who will either end up in prison or ruin society.
I want to make it clear that this is not, in any way, permissive parenting. We teach our children right from wrong. We set boundaries and have age-appropriate expectations. We go to great lengths to instill discipline in our children. We have full understanding of the impact our parenting makes on society. In fact, that is why we parent the way we do. We are educated in early childhood development and the importance of attachment and how that shapes the brain. We know the value of empathy, of teaching emotional intelligence, and of setting an example.
As for raising entitled brats? Well, my kids are only 7 and 5, like I said, but so far, so good. I know people who have raised children this way, and I don’t think any of them are in prison. On the contrary, they seem to be doing pretty excellent. You can read some of their stories here.
I mentioned this was a long process for me. Let me elaborate just a bit. At first I was skeptical. Then I began to understand the concept behind it and embrace that, but had no idea how to put it into practice. I thought it was all about what I couldn’t do to my kids. With more reading and self-reflection, I began to realize it wasn’t about what I couldn’t do, but more about what I could do in terms of relationship. Then I got all caught up in focusing *only* on our relationship and wasn’t doing much teaching. Teaching is essential, I soon learned, and so I began to find tools I could use, like time-in, games for teaching, problem-solving. More recently, I’ve had another epiphany.
Positive parenting, at the very core of it, isn’t about what you can and can’t do in terms of disciplining, teaching, and guiding your kids. It isn’t even about having the perfect relationship (as there will always be breaks and repairs; such is life). It’s not about techniques or tools, whether or not to use time outs or time ins, consequences or problem-solving. All of those things stem from the practice of what is at the very core of this philosophy, but they are not THE philosophy itself. What it’s really about is the way we view children, their emotions, their needs, their motives. It’s about seeing them as human beings, worthy of respect and unconditional love, delicate, impressionable, who have as much to teach us as we have to teach them. When THIS sinks into your heart, the practice of positive parenting naturally flows from it. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
If you’re truly interested in positive parenting, if the idea of this tugs at your heart, then I urge you to peel back your layers as well. It takes courage, and it’s not easy. It can be scary, even. But what’s the worst that could happen? You could find truth. You could find healing. You could find a peace that you never thought was possible. You could find contentment. You could cultivate a relationship with your kids that brings a great amount of joy to everyone. Or you could decide that it’s all hogwash and go back to what you were doing before, but you never know until you open your heart and give it a chance.
We’re not raising kids who run wild. We’re raising kids who we are wild about, and they know it. And that feels pretty good, for all of us. <3
Have a lovely day. xx
For more information:
Positive Parenting: What? Why? How?
Positive Parenting is NOT Permissive Parenting
Changing Your Mindset
Visit my book store for The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting and Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide for Putting Positive Parenting Principles into Action in Early Childhood.