Written By Lyndsey Merrill
I remember when I first started reading peaceful parenting books, I kept thinking, “So how do you do it, how do you parent peacefully?” It seemed that there were all these no no’s, and all these things we should stop doing, or there were vague references to respect and kindness. It was so frustrating because I wanted to know HOW to do it! My oldest child was one at the time, and was beginning to get into things and test her individuality and assert herself in the things she wanted, and I wasn’t sure how to handle things when I thought she needed discipline. I knew I didn’t want to harm her, or crush her will, but I wasn’t sure what to do. Alfie Kohn was one of the first authors I read extensively, so not only were punishments out the door, but rewards and praise too! How do you raise a child without those things?(Definitely my own conditioning talking there.) I wanted some kind of sure fire method for a well behaved, happy child, as well as a happy parent, but I felt like I was walking blind. How do you parent peacefully?
There Are So Many Ways to Have a Good Relationship!
It took me awhile to realize that parenting isn’t about training children to be good adults! Parenting is simply a relationship between two people, and there are as many ways to have a good relationship as there are people on this planet. You hear all the time that what may work for one child may not work for another, and that is because everyone is different, has different needs, wants, and preferences. I finally realized these books couldn’t tell me what to do because they didn’t know my child personally like I did. Only I knew what to do, and how to relate to my child, and each situation is unique and needs to be dealt with accordingly.
It was helpful to know what not to do, especially in a culture where most of us are raised with these ineffective and even damaging parenting methods. When I would get angry, I would want to punish, but since I believed that punishing was a useless tool for me, and a harmful tool to my child, I stopped. You don’t have to know the right way to do things before you stop doing the wrong things. When I began to strip away my bad programming, I could relate to my children and see them as people. I began to parent with my instincts and my humanity rather than my conditioning.
Rewiring Your Brain
I know I talk about it like it happened overnight, but in reality it has been a process that is still going on with me. I was spanked as a child, and we aren’t talking a tap on the but. So for probably a year and a half to two years, when I would get really angry with my oldest, my first thought would be to hit her. I never acted on it, and am so grateful those thoughts went away, but it is a great example of being conscious of the way you were raised. Most likely, you will parent the way you were parented. If you want to read another’s parents thoughts on rewiring your brain, click here.
The job of each generation is to solve more problems than they create and to lift up the next generation to be better than the last. Simply repeating the past does neither. L.R. Knost
It can be difficult when we live in a culture that tells us to ignore our parenting instincts and let our babies cry themselves to sleep, or give tough love, or ignore bad behavior. It isn’t easy to pave your own path and be criticized for not having “obedient” children, or children who don’t adhere to society’s standards, but if you are here, reading this article, you most likely want something better for your children than what society dictates!
The Answer Lies Within You!
I know it sounds very Yoda-esque, but it is very true. I started this site because I knew there is no exact method, and it isn’t exactly easy moving to a more peaceful, respectful relationship with your children. I wanted to share my findings on child development, how they think, how they respond to us, how they learn, and change how society sees children! Reading others examples is helpful, and having support is huge! There are also lots of tips that can help ease the transition, but the biggest change in your parenting comes from analyzing yourself. How were you raised, what are your thoughts on how children “should” behave, what are your triggers, and then taking responsibility for yourself, your actions, your thoughts and your moods. It is about questioning all the parenting methods we were raised with and the ones society says we should adopt and deciding what is really best for you, your child, and your relationship with your child. And remember that having a good relationship with your child goes both ways. It isn’t about always trying to keep your kids happy at your expense, but rather an exchange between two people. They are learning how to be respectful human beings just like you, so be patient with them, and be patient with yourself.
So how do you parent peacefully? While there are some principles to adhere to, the answer is going to be as individual as each person doing it. I know this isn’t the answer your were hoping for, but don’t give up. What we are doing with our children is changing the world, both inside and outside of ourselves!
Lyndsey Merrill, Liberated Parenting
Here is a quick start guide to living respectfully with your children from Our Muddy Boots if you are looking for a bit more on moving toward peaceful parenting.