Author Archives: Search Light

Conversation or Coercion

The command and control approach to parenting works until it doesn’t.  There comes a point when most children (if they are healthy) rebel against this.  Or, if they don’t rebel, they just learn to go underground so that they can get their needs met.  Many parents are shocked when their well behaved child suddenly declares…. “You can no longer tell me what to do!”  Shocked and fearful, the parent might respond with an idle threat.  “Do as I say or….”  Have you ever noticed that when you use idle threats with kids, they do it back to you?  “Yeah, well if you do that, I’ll do this…”  Sometimes parents wind up an idle threat to an actual punishment.  Many parents believe that if they bark out that threat then, in order to keep respect, they have to follow through.   You won’t get respect, you’ll get resentment and more negativity.  So what do you mean by work?  That your control forces your child to be obedient, to conform?  This does not build a child’s sense of self, self-discipline or an ability to embrace responsibility wholeheartedly.  It might only work in the moment to get obedience but the cost will be devastating.

Punishment and reward actually keep kids stuck at a lower level of moral development.  If a child does something wrong and you issue a punishment, especially one that isn’t fair and done with anger, the child is not left to think about his behaviour.   Instead, the negative experience takes over any learning or caring.   The punishment clears the ledger book.  No need to reflect or feel any healthy remorse.

The higher road is being able to have discussions. Conversations that listen to the child’s point of view, experience and feelings, developing trust and closeness.  This helps children develop a sense of self and nurtures growth.  When they trust us, they learn that we have their best interest at heart so when we state a concern or make a request, they don’t rebel.  When people say, effective communication doesn’t work with kids they are missing the bigger picture.  It teaches kids social skills; it helps them understand their feelings and yours.  It takes them to a higher level of moral development where they consider their feelings, other people’s feelings and why limits exist.  Take the higher road with parenting and you will see cooperation, harmony, and a self-disciplined child.

Be a GEM – Good Enough Mother

Be a GEM, a good enough mother.  Parenting is no place for perfectionism.  The longer you hang onto high standards, appearances and raising perfect little angels, the more you will suffer.  You might have a strong inner critic who holds that bar way too high.

Parenting children is an experience that changes you from the inside out.  Nothing in life compares to the love, fatigue, frustration or guilt you feel when you are a parent.   To add to the intensity of emotions is the fact that your basic needs don’t get met.  Your sleep is interrupted.  You can’t relax and eat a meal without little ones getting up and down.

Who would have thought that going to the smallest room of your house where you used to sit in solitude is now a public space?  Multi-tasking at a whole new level!

You might find yourself saying or doing things that you don’t feel great about.  This happens.  Let yourself feel healthy guilt, which motivates change but don’t go to shame.  Guilt says, “What I did was unacceptable.”  Shame says, “I’m unacceptable.” Watch that thought. It just isn’t true.

While your circumstances won’t be changing anytime soon, your way of thinking can. 

  • Your children will give you their most demanding behaviour because they have their strongest bond with you, not because you are a bad mom.
  • You will have times when you don’t feel loving simply because your self-care is absent.
  • It might look like other parents have it all together, they don’t.
  • You will have times when you just don’t know how to handle your kids, that is normal.
  • It’s not selfish to take time to yourself when possible, even if you do nothing.
  • A messy house is a sign that somebody lives there.
  • Saying “good enough” is not lazy; it saves energy for things that matter.
  • When your kids are acting like kids, you probably aren’t being judged and if you are, tell yourself, “It is none of my business what you think of my kids or me.”

While pain is a part of life, suffering doesn’t have to be.  We suffer when mistaken thinking creeps into our life circumstances.  If you hold the bar too high, it could be that your inner critic is taking over.   Fire her! Okay, so she will never totally disappear, just don’t give her permission to run the show.  Tell her… you are a good enough mom.