After last week’s controversial debate, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about our (Walter & I) personal parenting style, where we fit in, what is appropriate for us and what isn’t, what our values as parents are and how we are navigating the journey of parenting.
I think it’s NB to say first that I am not against any forms of parenting that other parents choose to adopt but that given my personal journey to parenthood I do sometimes feel judged. The word feel in that statement is an important one, it’s important to note that those are my feelings and not necessarily anyone else or that anyone else is judging me, but more how I judge myself and what I perceive to be area’s that I wish I could have done differently but couldn’t because of our own personal circumstance. As such, they deserve to be acknowledged even if they’re not understood or agreed with by others.
I read Kam’s blog this morning and found myself in total agreement with her. I truly do believe that parenting is not an exact science, it is forever evolving and changing, what is right now will be wrong in a year or two or three. We only have to look at our own upbringings and how we were parented versus the choices we’re making for our children today to see how fluid and constantly evolving parenting is. We are all ultimately a product of our upbringing, no matter how perfect or imperfect or what parenting style our parents chose.
The style of parenting that most fits Walter and I as a label would be Conscious or Unconditional Parenting. Which basically is defined as follows:
Conscious, unconditional parenting represents a paradigm shift from the dominant “power over” view of parenting children to a conscious relational view. Conscious parenting is represented by the spirit of cooperation while the traditional idea of parenting is more closely represented by control.
It is important to not confuse Conscious or Unconditional Parenting with Permissive parenting which is characterized as follows:
- freely accepts all emotional expressions from the child
- offers comfort to the child experiencing negative emotions
- offers little guidance on behavior
- does not teach the child about emotions
- does not set limits; is permissive or inconsistent with limits
- does not help the child solve problems
- does not teach problem-solving methods to the child
- believes there is little you can do about negative emotions other than ride them out
- believes that managing negative emotions is a matter of hydraulics, release the emotion and the work is done
Compassion, love and understanding are hallmarks of conscious, unconditional parenting.
Do you want to?
- Reduce arguing, punishing and yelling?
- Feel positive about your parenting choices?
- Create more time for yourself?
- Resolve conflicts without power struggles?
Unconditional parenting is not to be confused with permissive parenting or simply positive parenting. It is not about having ‘no limits’ or letting ‘children rule’ or simply giving kind, logical consequences. It is about re-framing our view of our children’s behavior, healing our own past wounds and allowing the free expression of feelings as we parent with empathy and compassion.
Unconditional parenting requires you to look honestly at your own childhood and acknowledge your emotional experiences. Your roadblocks to authentic parenting and your unconscious decision for choosing your current parenting style are interwoven with your family history and the parenting that you have experienced.
Conscious, unconditional parenting seeks to teach children by modeling principles of respect, love and non-violent communication.
It does not absolve parents of responsibility for the well-being of their children. Instead it requires much, much more of parents emotionally and creatively.
This style of parenting is the one that would best describe our method of parenting Ava, again, how one chooses to parent, I believe, also depends on the nature of the child. Ava is intelligent, determined and very head strong, so this method words best for us.
However, like any parenting style, we do not fit the mould completely because we do bring in elements of discipline. She does need to learn that for every action there is a reaction and that some behaviours are unacceptable. But we have a no spanking policy in our home. Spanking Ava does not work, because she is so strong willed and determined, the 2 or 3 times she has been spanked (swatted on a nappy covered backside) in her entire life have only resulted in me feeling bad about me and escalating her behaviour. A more timid child may have succumbed to the effects of a spank, however, Ava does not, she resists even further.
For us, the best discipline for her has been using time out. In my opinion there does need to be some form of discipline as discipline is and will be expected when she starts school and as her school practises the time out method, it made the most sense for us to carry on with it at home. It’s the only way for us to enforce discipline on her where she understands the consequence of certain behaviours and which is carried out without excessive tantrums or shouting on our part. We do not communicate by shouting in our home as it serves no purpose.
I love Ava, I want her to grow up to be a compassionate individual. I want to celebrate her uniqueness by trying to squeeze her into a mould or by parenting over her or smothering her. I don’t want her growing up being told how she should be feeling. One of the most valuable lessons I took from therapy was that there is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings, they should always be acknowledged. I want her to be confident in herself and not dependant on me or her father or someone else for her sense of self or her sense of confidence.
I mean, just look how unique she is, I won’t squeeze my gorgeous round peg into a square hole.