Parenting, is for many of us more challenging than we ever could have conceived. It demands more attention and energy than most of us have to give. It has many of us scrambling to find a way to financially support our families and also be present for our children. We watch ourselves behave toward our kids in ways we never could have dreamed and feeling things in relationship to them that we could never have prepared for. In witnessing many parent-child relationships, it appears that our children are somehow uniquely designed to challenge us to do the very thing we find most impossible.
The most important thing I teach parents is that they are not unique in their struggle. We don’t talk about how hard it is and we need to. Our challenge is not our personal failure. We are in this boat together.
The second most important thing I teach parents is that while children absolutely need firm limits, eliciting shame or intimidating them is unacceptable. When our goal is to control our children we miss a crucial opportunity to help them find their way. Children aren’t for “molding.” If anything they are more precisely molded than we are. How do we assist them in maintaining their unique shape?
Through my personal experience as a parent, as an aunt, and as a childcare provider for most all of my adult years as well as an intensive training in a connection-based approach to parenting, I’ve discovered a new paradigm from which to parent, one that differs quite significantly from the approaches we’re most familiar with.
There is a way to offer a child a firm limit, in a context of our true belief in their goodness that allows the child to feel safe enough to express what’s underneath the off-track behavior. Where is the place where a child feels my “No” and also feels my genuine concern just as deeply? How can I help my child return to a sense of well-being and regain the ability to think clearly and behave well?
I help parents find and implement the limits their children need while also teaching them how to bring a great deal more humor and play into their relationships. I help parents recognize when a child simply needs to sob, rage or express indigence and teach them how to support and encourage emotional expression. In addition, I help parents identify the places where the hurts from their own histories color their ability to witness their children with clarity and provide the safety for them to express and offload old feelings.