2 Ways To Parent Consciously
As parents who wish to raise our children consciously and with love and respect, we can’t always do what comes naturally. Our knee jerk responses to our kid’s less than stellar behavior is often a reflection of our own parents choices. While that may be a good thing, it isn’t always so. We may be choosing to parent quite differently than our own parents did. That isn’t an indictment of them any more than choosing to go breastfeed is a rejection of a mother who formula fed us. It simply means that we’ve decided to make different choices that seem right to us given our knowledge, experience and comfort level.
Parenting consciously means taking the time to think before responding. Instead of doing what everyone else does, we choose our responses and pass them through our filter. We endeavor to parent according to higher standards that may include gentleness, minimizing punishment as a discipline tool, and respect for our child’s understanding and development. And yet in the “heat of the moment”, these higher standards can easily elude us! Here are some ways we can take back control of ourselves first, so we can help our children learn self control.
1) Tame the anger beast. Standard psychological wisdom for years has claimed that letting out your anger was cathartic, therapeutic, and that “holding our feelings in” was bad for our emotional and physical health.
You know what? That so-called wisdom turned out to be bunk! Now, science has shone light on a different truth thanks to numerous studies on the subject: That expressing anger is actually destructive to our health, that anger is harmful to close relationships, and that it becomes an almost addictive trap that we can’t escape from when we indulge in it. I use the word indulge intentionally, because when we scream at our kids or “vent” on our loved ones, we’re actually indulging our baser instincts, not our higher selves. And then we have the nerve to feel justified because they “pushed our buttons”! So it would behoove us to learn anger management strategies before we damage the relationships with those we love the most.
2) Practice, practice, practice. Have you had a day when you settled down into your pillow at night totally happy with how you treated your kids? What made that day different? Did you spend a lot of time outside? Had you had a good nights’ sleep? Did you get some exercise? Did you leave the room and give yourself a time out? Did you give yourself a break to just relax? Did you count to ten or pray for wisdom? Take note of what you did. Actually write it down, and commit to practicing that tactic again. It’s likely one that works for you. Instead of trying to change yourself into someone else, do what works for you. Practicing that behavior again and again makes it your habit, and it will serve you well the next time you’re in the situation.
Taking charge of our parenting is a bit like taking charge of our money. Whether we set a budget to discipline ourselves or put credit cards in the freezer to make it difficult to overspend, we can also put our parenting in the area of the conscious instead of the unconscious.