instead of training

I never considered training my children but I have had a lot to learn about relating with children with peaceful guidance as I intended (and I’m still learning!). Fortunately, my first child is not meek nor “easy” and she has given me many opportunities to learn and practice. Her sister is quieter and  “easier,” and I am so thankful my first came first for the sake of her little sister!  My last child, my son, is perhaps my test, for he is challenging me in new ways.  There have been many discouraging and frustrating moments, sometimes to the point of questioning my parenting ideas.  Of course, I suspect a lot of the hard times are due to lack of trust and experience in the peaceful parenting methods, because, unfortunately, you see a lot more of the opposite in our culture, and it’s hard to find support for connection parenting.   However, the connections I have with my children and their exuberance for life are so good it encourages me to continue in the direction I’m going.

The best parenting book I have ever read is Connection Parenting by Pam Leo. She also has a website, though I haven’t thoroughly explored it yet. I read the book in 2006 while I was pregnant with my third child and my first two were 5 and almost 3. I had read several others over the years and lots of reading online as well, and gained insight from most everything. My favorite previous to discovering Connection Parenting was Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation by Rebecca Anne Bailey which does an excellent job of helping you empathize with your child’s point of view.  But if you only read one parenting book, I think it should be Connection Parenting.

It’s not long: only 216 pages split up into many short chapters.

It is reflective, asking you to consider why you think the way you do and where you’re coming from. One of the important points is that parenting is not meant to be done in isolation and she encourages connecting with other adults to discuss parenting on a regular basis. There are even discussion prompts in the book.  Think about it.  We can’t change other people as readily as we change ourselves.  And if we think we can’t change our own behavior, how can we expect children to change?  So I found the focus on self-reflection in this book, rather than tips or advice, to be very helpful.

It focuses on relationship and the long term. First of all, children are humans, albeit small inexperienced humans.  But just because a being is small or inexperienced does not mean s/he can’t have great ideas, big feelings, or the ability to  make choices.

Just like adults, a child’s strongest emotional need is to have a trusting bond with at least one other person. And how well that need is fulfilled will affect how the child will develop, including what kind of an adult the child will become. All interactions you, as parent, have with your child can either strengthen that bond or weaken it. I place a higher value on my children developing into confident adults and having good relationships than on obedience. Yes, sometimes I think it would be nice to always have my children do what I say immediately, but I expect in the future they’re going to continue to use their own minds to make decisions when I’m not always beside them to help, and I think it will be a good thing they weren’t trained to mindlessly follow other people.  I’m also enjoying the non-adversarial relationships developing between my children and me.

This is not an adequate review of the book or its concepts.  I wrote it a bit impulsively, after my last post.  But I have decided to start writing more often on this topic, so stay tuned.


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