Saturday, August 6, 2011

Unconditonal Parenting

More often than not the path as a parent that I want to take becomes so entangled that I lose sight of how I really want to connect with my sons.  I tend to find more peace and be in-tune with them when I'm calm, understanding and willing to step out of my own comfort zone and lose what "society" tells me I should do.

One way I have begun this journey is by watching Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting DVD.  I've know WHAT I wanted to do since my boys were born.  But DOING it in day to day life can be  quite another thing.

This past week I REALLY resolved to jump on and begun consciously parenting and being the parent I know my boys need.  And with good results and peace in my own soul!

Below are the 10 basic principles of Unconditional Parenting.  Though this is just a glimpse, I highly encourage you to read the book or watch the DVD for full understanding!  Also after the 10 principles I'll add some You Tube clips/excerpts from Alfie Kohn's lecture!

Consider your Requests -
Maybe it is in what/how you have requested that the child is not responding favorably Maybe you need to re-think what you are doing. Are you sure you want to trick the kid to get her to do what you want?

Put the Relationship First -

Being right isn't necessarily what matters; it matters very little if your children stiffen when you walk into the room; what matters is the connection, the alliance, mutual respect. From a practical perspective, the relationship counts, where the child feels safe enough to explain why she did something wrong; when you put your foot down, is it worth any potential injury to the relationship?

The Love has to be Unconditional -

Love withdrawl is conditional love; when it does work, the price you are paying is too high - it says, "You have to earn my love." You go away from me or I go away from you - banishment. Kids need love that never stops coming; affection that does not have to be earned. "No matter what you do, I will never stop loving you." Stop that which gives the opposite message - positive reinforcement when they are good. Items are a display of love or a tool to control - you cannot have it both ways. When we praise them for making our lives easy, they look for that. More praise, the more insecure they become, the more dependent they become on our approval. They have to know they are loved even when they screw up or fall short. They need to know they are loved for who they are, not what they do. Time out is okay when the child decides and the time is something that helps the child center - something fun, diverting.

Imagine how kids see Things -

Look at the world from their point of view! The more you do that, the better a parent you tend to be. When I say, "X", how does she feel? Imagine how your friends (or relatives) seem to your child. From a young child's point of view, we're interfering with what looks fun.

Be Authentic -

Do not forget your humanity. Don't pretend to be more competent than you are, apologize to your child every so often ~ you'll find a reason.

Talk less, Ask more -

Listen, respond, elicit, imagine her perspective-makes you a better partner, too - manager, colleague - What is your perspective? Good parenting includes listening.

Assume the Best ~

A tribute to Children: the best possible motive consistent with the facts. Why assume the child was trying to make you unhappy? Children of a certain age cannot understand promises, sitting still for a long family dinner. Don't assume the worst. We do not always know why kids do things. Kids live down to our negative expectations. Assume the best.

Try to say Yes, when you can -

Do not say No constantly. Sometimes you have to say No. Kids don't get better at coping with unhappiness when they were made unhappy deliberately when they were young. If you say Yes twice as often as you do now, they will still get plenty of opportunities with frustration. Pick your battles. This is not to say Yes out of laziness. Provide guidance, support. Mindful parenting. Say Yes as often as you can.

Don't be Rigid -

Wave the rules. Be flexible. Respond differently to different children and situations, understanding the context. Predictability is good, but don't make a fetish of it. United front is dishonest - more useful for kids to see we disagree and can talk it out.

Let kids decided whenever possible -
Support their autonomy, bring them in on the decision making. Children will feel better about themselves. The way kids make good decisions is by making decisions. Let them decide unless there is a compelling reason not to.

And some clips! 

Not looking back!

As I stooped to pick up a load of laundry, I gazed around my house at the utter mess.  Yes, I said it.  Utter mess!  A sink full of dirty dishes, several laundry piles, toys scattered in the bathroom, the living room, the boys room, our room and the kitchen.  A bowel of goldfish sat on the toy shelf, pretty sure the bathroom needs a good scrubbing, beds unmade...and laughter.  The sound of two little boys building towers and houses with legos as they laughed and pretended they were blasting off to the moon to visit Martian Mickey Mouse.

Messes tend to irritate me.  Just ask my husband.  I suddenly become Mr. Hyde and vow to throw away anything in my path!  But today the first thought that popped into my mind without even thinking was ... "I wouldn't trade this for anything.  I can barely remember life before this life, nor do I really want too."

That's right!  Sure life was fun, we had more money before children.  I did a lot more, ran around a lot more but in the end none of it is as important as my life with my husband and my sons.  I don't long for the days of singleness, I don't miss that "freedom".  I have all I need when I see their smiles, hear there laughter and wipe their tears.  

I still of course have my time with husband, have my time with my girlfriends...but honestly today is the kind of day I prefer more than anything.  A lazy day at home with my family!  No where to be, nothing "important" to do.  Just a time to reveal in the warmth and strength of the love of my family.  

There's no need to look back, there's not need to fret about the future.  I have all I need right here!  

A typical day in our life!  If you drop by, this is what you'll find!  A mess!  A beautiful, blessed mess and lots of fun and play!