Having children is hard. Maybe the hardest thing you will do in your life. They are the single most important person in your world, and also the person that can upset you the most.
I do not have children of my own. I have heard many times "you don't know how hard it is". Tell me. Let's talk about it. I want to know. What makes it so hard? After 20 years of working in childcare, pregnancy, birth and mom/baby health, I have an idea, but I want to hear about it from you.
You are an amazing parent. You love your child very much and they know they are loved. But we are human, and for that very reason, our moods are not stable and unchanging. Our very existence depends on this moment to moment change.
Being kind and gentle is easy when we are happy. But what about when we are angry? What happens then?
Here's an excerpt from "No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture you Child's Developing Mind" by Daniel J. Siegel, founder of the Mindful Awareness Research Center and best-selling author of "The Whole Brain Child" that shows us that there is a difference between "can't" and "won't" gentle parent.
Being able to notice this moment between the stimulus and the response is absolutely one of the greatest skills and qualities of human kind. What if we could share this gift with our loved ones, just by staying present with our emotions in real time?
What makes us human, dynamic, changing, is our emotions. What happens when we open up about them. Verbalize them. Get vulnerable. Notice when you feel angry, and let your kids know, without making it their fault. They didn't "make you angry", that would imply that they somehow did it on purpose. When they are tiny little humans, how can that be even possible?
You are angry, for your own reasons, which is very valid. You are entitled to feeling anger. How you respond in your anger, your "response-ability", however, is to treat your children respectfully. If one of your family values is respect, it is your responsibility to treat your kids with respect so that they will grow up learning to treat others respectfully. Gentle Parenting is just this. It's raising your children without yelling at them or hitting them, because yelling at people and hitting them is generally considered disrespectful.
It's not saying your child has no consequences, because they do. Life is full of consequences. It's your job to help show them this as they walk along side you. Explain "the stove is very hot, and if you touch it, you will burn yourself. I have to be very safe when I use the oven," and show them, slowly, so their developing minds can learn.
If they are struggling to understand, chances are they need a time-in. This means they need one on one connection time with you. They are constantly trying to convey their need for connection, affection, care, love, bonding. That's how they feel safe. Not turning away from them or laying blame on them.
It takes time and repetition, consistently over time. Somehow, even though it is ultimately for them, it will also help you to slow down too. You will see life through a whole new lens. This a simple gift you can give them today, that will ripple out into all of their future relationships.
But this takes practice. That's what we do here, at Bring Harmony Home. We practice being mindful. We practice naming what's coming up for us in the moment. We stay present with the journey and don't blame, advise, or some other way try to control the situation. Instead, we get honest about what we want, need, feel, how we can best meet those needs our selves and when we need to call in support from others.
It can be really refreshing, and sometimes messy, to start slowing down and taking full responsibility for you first. You got this. Start with a breath. You're doing a great job!