Photo credit: Sophie Schwarz

The Power of Parenting

Even if you’re doing awesomely wonderful as a parent, here are some thoughts to encourage you to use your power of parenting in a positive way to help empower your child.

It’s no news that parenting is hard, like really hard… No matter what anyone says, there is no magic pill, there is no one right way, there is no one answer for ALL! Every child is different, every parent is different and so is each combination thereof.

What I know for sure though is: if you remain firm and loving, applying positive discipline tools such as Family Meetings (more about that another time), you will one day be incredibly nourished by your relationship with your adult child. One day, you’ll know that despite all mishaps and imperfect moments your dedication to your child in a loving and firm way was the best thing you’ve ever done; your best investment of time, patience, search to understand your child’s needs, breaking yourself open, being okay with being uncomfortable and on, and on!

Why am I writing you this you ask?

Through several teaching experiences and an interesting conversation I came to some conclusions about parenting that I think are worthwhile sharing:

My experience:

I’ve been working with a number of parents, grandparents and relative caregivers who are struggling with a lot of adversity in lives of the children they raise. Some are affected by issues related to addiction, domestic violence, poverty and loss, lots of loss. These brave people are struggling with raising children whose needs haven’t been properly met, which means difficult and eruptive behaviors and that often translates into power struggles. It is very clear to these caregivers that the widely known and practiced parenting tools like time out, consequences and punishment, sticker charts and other forms of rewards just don’t work!

In fact, this is what I hear over and over, even from parents whose children have experienced no trauma at all — it just becomes even more evident when their needs have previously been neglected, and/or the child has special needs.

The conversation:

Following a meeting to plan training staff on gender identity issues and developing gender-neutral language for use throughout an organization, we somehow slipped into a different conversation altogether. We talked about how resources and institutions are set up in a way to only benefit a few in the world and about the fact that every 30 minutes, a farmer in India commits suicide by drinking pesticides because they realize the damage the chemicals have on everyone who works in the cotton industry. It somehow led to discussing how robots may be THE chance to create more equality in the world… Yea, that was a hot and crazy debate! (The robot idea… not my opinion, but point taken).

My conclusion:

Given the insight and knowledge we (humans) have gained from longitudinal studies, by revisiting history and herstory, as well us by better understanding how our systems have been created, we learned that our “old” parenting methods and styles didn’t exactly contribute to a world full of responsible, fair, kind, healthy and respectful people. Yes?

Neither has it created enough humans who invent methods that don’t harm people or the earth. Nor has it created humans who don’t inflict trauma on the people around them.

This is not to judge parents who used or still use these methods, it is really about analyzing, learning and understanding the long-term impacts and effects of our widely applied parenting methods.

Let’s borrow from what is called an empowerment model for a second and ask what do we have control over? Yep, that’s right, ourselves only! Seems discouraging at first, yet this is quite a lot and if internalized, ends up empowering us.

So the shift we need in order to change the direction of our world, has to come from inside of us, from our consciousness. We will never step into our full power as individuals, as partners, as parents if we’re not willing to shift our perception, our own thinking and our own behavioral patterns. And let me tell you, THAT’s the real hard work!

When…

· …we get our children’s real needs and we figure out how to help them meet these needs in a healthy way…

· …we get what we must eat be truly nourished, we get where our food has to come from and how it must be grown…

· …we get how the cotton for our clothing must be grown and transformed into our favorite t-shirts, how the people who are in the production chain must be treated…

· …we understand how educational programs need to look in order to teach children how to use their brains and hearts…

· …we set up our homes and lives in a way that it is all manageable for us without depleting our personal and shared resources…

… and we begin to take small steps into all of these directions, simply by being aware of our choices and decisions, that’s when we shift our consciousness. And that will have a Butterfly Effect.

This isn’t a utopian picture, this is possible. Not all at once, but little by little, layer by layer. When your child “acts up”, ask what does she need in this moment?

When you think about preparing dinner tonight, ask what will be truly satisfying and give me/us the most energy?

When you’re in the mood to go shopping or need new clothing, check out Thred Up.

When you wonder about what you want your child to learn or know, think about engaging your child through an activity (role play is always awesome!).

When you’re tidying up your home, think about how you can organize your belongings into systems that create more simplicity.

Basically, become aware without judgement. And when you can, respond in a way that you know will feel aligned with your values once you’ve responded.

Here’s to your power! Keep going dear, the world needs you, awake and aware, not perfect! I’ll try to stay like that too.

Until I write again!

Much love, Julika.