For those of us who were raised “old school”, we grew up knowing:
Rule #1. Mom and Dad are always right. And even when they’re wrong—they’re right.
Rule #2. A butt whippin’ was standard operating procedure when you misbehaved. And don’t forget to pick your own stick off the tree in the front yard for that whippin’.
And, Rule #3. When in doubt, reference Rule #1.
I’m sure many of us can say, despite the temporary pain, those disciplinary tactics were probably what kept us in line and helped us become responsible adults; however, times have changed. Parenting a child today is very different from how you would have raised your child 40 years ago. Popular culture, smart phones, social media, the internet, and the drastic change in society’s social norms have made it more challenging than ever to be a parent.
A few months ago, I was watching Oprah’s Lifeclass as she interviewed Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a parenting expert and clinical psychologist who wrote a book called The Conscious Parent. The theory behind the book is more or less: The more you tune into your children and learn to genuinely connect with them, the less conflict you’ll have and the less you’ll have to discipline them.
What I’ve found after ten years of Mommyhood is that every child is different. What works with one won’t necessarily work with another when it comes to discipline. But the one thing that is the same for all of us—young and old alike—is something that Oprah put into words so well: “We all want to be seen. We all want to be heard. And we all want to know we matter.”
In her book, Dr. Shefali underscores the importance of nurturing your relationship with your child. There is scientific evidence to support the fact that children who have healthy parental relationships are healthier in just about every way, than those who don’t. In a presentation she gave, she showed the brains of two different three-year-olds. The child who had suffered neglect had a brain about 2/3 the size of the one who had strong, healthy ties with the parent(s).
It’s taken me some time to understand that more often than not, my daughter is a reflection of me. Her behavior, at any given point in time, is usually a reflection of the energy I’m putting out. It’s much easier to get her to do what I need her to do when our communication is good and she’s received affection from me (at least one hug and an “I love you” every day). But I’ve also noticed how my negative energy also affects her behavior.
Agreeing with the concepts presented in The Conscious Parent (I have yet to actually read the book) doesn’t mean that I don’t discipline her when I need to, but it does mean that I find myself having to do so less often. Mainly because I’m much more conscious about really connecting with my daughter from a place of being whole and complete myself—which is where the best parenting starts.
This quote I read the other day by Catherine Wallace sums it up best: “Listen earnestly to the things your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big because to them, all of it has always been big stuff.”
How do you find your parenting style is different (or not) from the way you were raised?