Friday, July 10, 2015

Because Kids Don't Come With Manuals

This post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life by Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.


The copy of my Dr. Laura book was sitting  beside my computer and my oldest daughter picked it up and said to me, "Why do you read so much about parents and kids and stuff?"

I didn't really even think about the answer, I just responded, "Because when you have a baby, it doesn't come with a manual...it doesn't come with books or instructions on how to raise it in a healthy, happy way."

She thought for a moment and then went off to do her stuff.

But then I kept thinking about it.

I want her to know that I am an active participant on this parenting journey. That I am putting in an effort and educating myself to do my best.

So I said to her, "I don't want to make the same mistakes my Mom did. I do some things the same as her, but other things I do different or want to do different. And I want to know all I can about being a really great Mama for you all. And when you're a Mama, I'm sure you'll do some things different and some the same. But you will also have to learn how to be a Mama."

{Then she said in a non-chalant voice, "Maybe I won't have kids." And I said, "Maybe. You don't have to decide right now." But darn it, I want to be a grandma so one of them better have kids! Hahaha!}.

I have had to learn so much about raising kids since becoming a Mama. I've had to learn a lot about ME, I've had to look deep down in the crevices of the mind and heart to understand why or why not I do certain things.

And it's hard.

It's hard to uncover stuff that's painful (that perhaps you didn't know was there) about your own childhood, or your own hangups and previous experiences.

Reading Chapter 2 was emotionally hard for me because it brought up a lot of info on why punishment doesn't work, why empathy coaching (raising your kids and setting limits with empathy) is so gosh darn important. It was hard because even though I consider myself (and have been told my therapists I am an empath) I don't know if my feelings and emotions were validated when I was a child like Dr. Laura describes we should do with our children at all ages. And this injured part of me is triggered when my kids do things that require me to not react in knee jerk ways. I love my parents and respect them and really believe they did their best. But my Mother would be the first to tell you she may raise her kids differently if she had another chance. I remember being a very small child and often having growing pains, or headaches or stomach aches, you know "kid pains". And when I would tell my parents about it, they would laugh it off or dismiss it and tell me I was overreacting. I would get so frustrated because I felt they didn't believe me. I guess I learned that having pain and talking about it was a sign of weakness, of less desirable behaviour, of whining and complaining.

And hey, maybe I was whining and complaining...and I bet it was annoying to my parents. But here's the deal, the part they didn't know because I didn't come with a manual...

Dr. Laura explains, that even if your kid is demonstrating a "less desirable" or "annoying" behaviour, parents need to validate, not dismiss. The issue won't go away by dismissing. The child will just learn to try to hide their true emotions or feelings. If a kid is being annoying, get down to their level, make eye contact and deal with it with empathy.

The other section of this chapter talks about how and why punishment does more emotional harm than good. On paper it makes sense, but it's so hard in reality to not want to have consequences when I child does something they shouldn't have. This one I struggle with often. I get frustrated that they don't listen or when they resort to solving their issues with each other by being rude or physically aggressive with each other.

I feel they should be past that.

But....

Once again (and I remember this from when I was a kid), it's a call for connection from them to us. They are lacking in that moment the tools and emotional/mental capability to "think it through." All they need is a good emotional release and a good moment of connection with their parent(s).

I do it to my hubby to this day. If I get mad, I lash out, or give him the cold shoulder, but on the inside I just want to hug and have a good cry.

So, still now, I carry remnants of the baggage from an emotional system that may have developed under non-ideal conditions. Making me act like a toddler during times of stress and strong emotions. Haha.

But I know better and so should do better with my own kids. And I do. I have been working so hard on this, even before reading this awesome book.

I know I've said it before, but Dr. Laura is a wonderful writer and she provides so many examples of how to deal with several situations that come up every family and pointers on how to deal with these with empathy and without punishment, nurturing connection and trust instead.

And so, I continue on my journey and on learning more about myself and the more I learn and love myself, the more I become a better, happier parent <3

Hope you've got your own copy by now! If not, go get one!

xo
Kat

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