Don’t just do something – stand there.
Yes, that’s backwards from how you usually hear it.
Sometimes it is important to take action.
But other times it’s important to hold space or give your presence.
When your child is upset and expressing an intense emotion like sadness, anger, or frustration, it’s the perfect time to give your loving connection.
You might think you understand what connection IS, but just to be sure let’s talk about some things that connection IS NOT.
I first learned about true empathy, which is a big part of connection, though the book Nonviolent Communication. (That’s an affiliate link.) I recommend everyone pick up this book to learn more! In the meantime, here are 12 things that do NOT create connection in tense moments.
If you are making a moralistic judgment about your child, you are NOT connecting with them. We are TERRIBLE about this in our culture. There are so many opportunities to use...
I think I already know everything about parenting (ha! yeah right!)
But every now and then I come across a new parenting idea that blows me away.
A while back I read Jitterberry’s article “Who Should Adjust?” (sadly, blog no longer active) and it’s so powerful! She says that most parenting problems can be summed up as “how can I get my child to need less of me?”
Isn’t that SO true?! We ask kids to need us less, and we ask them to BE less. We ask them to be quieter, be more still, get out of the way, take up less room, and be more alone. We may not SAY “shut up and go away” out loud, but damn, that’s what we communicate a lot of the time!
Jitterberry asks the simple question, “What if instead we could become more?” and that’s the kind of question that can change your life.
When a difficult or uncomfortable situation arises, it’s natural to want to pull back. You want to protect yourself. You want...
What is the most important thing to you as a parent?
All of those sound important, but are they the MOST important part of parenting?
Parenting means weaving together so many different skills.
You keep your child warm, well fed, and safe. You care for their physical health, their emotional well-being, and their spiritual center.
You’re their cook, their chauffeur, their landlord, and their friend. You juggle housekeeping, paying the bills, and repairing the car.
Somewhere in there you try to teach a thing or two and have a little fun. Maybe you even safe-guard some personal time and private interests of your own.
You have so many priorities. How do you figure out what is most important and what you can let slide?
It turns out there’s one thing that’s more important than everything else.
It’s the quality of your relationship together.
There we were hanging out with our forest playgroup at a new urban wilderness playground. My son was alternating between begging me to leave and hitting other kids.
Then I called him a butt, and his face fell in hurt and disappointment.
How did we end up here? There has to be an explanation for how this went so wrong!
Let’s back up.
I love the outdoors. My entire life, being outside has been a critical component of a life well lived. I’m in love with hiking and camping. I’ve been rock climbing, sky diving, white water rafting, and canoeing. I like to sleep under the stars, and I’ve got a thing for the full moon and the summer solstice.
Being outside and having outdoor adventures is part of ME.
But, as my kid will grumpily tell you, he hates nature. Our outdoor playdate organization has the word “forest” in the name. My son says, every time we go, “I hate the forest.”
Now, I’m big on including kids in the decisions about their...
Before I became a parent I was a nanny for many years. One of the services I offered was to design the children’s playroom. I created beautiful spaces with toys grouped by learning categories. Everything had its place.
As soon as the kids broke a toy, I whisked it away never to be seen again. The parents always returned home to a clean and organized playspace.
Needless to say, I have a different style of family, and my child’s play areas look a little different. There is one giant toy box that all the toys get shoveled into. Or not. My son’s toys are all mixed up with one another and scattered here and there… or somewhere.
I used to think that broken toys were sad. I didn’t understand why a useless item should stay among the intact toys. Now I have a more -ahem- casual relationship with cleaning up. My child’s collection of toys is riddled with broken parts.
And from those broken pieces, I’ve seen a magic arise.
I watch him stack the wheels...
No, wait, that’s not right.
We have no charts, star stickers, chore lists, threats, or bribes. I’m not even sure my 5-year old knows the word “chore.”
And yet, our house is cleaner than some people’s, messier than others, and doing alright.
Dylan doesn’t care if his toys are all over everywhere.
Which of our preferences should take priority?
I don’t assume that my way goes just because I’m an adult.
Because the living room is shared family space, when I want it picked up, I do it myself. I let Dylan know when I’m picking up so he can help if he wants to or move any projects out of the way.
Dylan’s room is 100% his. Just like my room is mine. Wouldn’t it be pretty...
A loud noise reverberated from the next room over.
You’re a parent, so you know. You know the fears that run through your mind when there’s a BANG somewhere, and your child is also… somewhere.
Of course I was in the shower. Heaven forbid I make it peacefully through a whole shower.
I listened for crying. No. Probably no one was injured.
I stepped out of the shower and dried off, just in time.
Just in time to see my naked 5 year old run into the bathroom.
Covered head to toe in orange paint.
And the carpet was also bright orange, leading from the bathroom back to his play area. I plopped my son into the bathtub and then turned the corner to see where the bang had come from.
I never found out what actually caused the bang.
The floor was a giant puddle of orange paint. The table was also covered in orange. A nearby room divider, orange. Chairs, orange.
How did I react to all of this? Was I angry? Sad? Disappointed? Overwhelmed?
If you need someone on YOUR side, someone who has YOUR back, someone who helps make more YES in YOUR life, you need Wild Parents YES Space, a membership program full of support and learning. Would love to have you join us!
It can seem like our jobs as parents is to find out what our kids want and declare whether or not they get to have it.
YES or NO, we decree.
This is a great and heady power.
We default to no.
Then one NO accidentally slips into no no no no no no no no no….
To know this, all you have to do is listen.
One day I paid close attention, and this is what I heard myself saying to my toddler:
That’s my name for today. My son Dylan is 6 years old, and he’s pissed at me, and he’s decided to call me Life Ruiner.
He’s not just saying, “You’re a life ruiner.”
He is literally addressing me as if my name were Life Ruiner.
“I’m going downstairs to watch TV, Life Ruiner.” “Will you make me some lunch, Life Ruiner?”
You’re probably thinking it’s funny. Okay, it’s definitely a little bit funny.
But we’ve been struggling the last few days, and he’s been expressing a lot of anger, and he’s been saying he doesn’t love me and that he doesn’t want to be around me. And so my feelings are hurt. Like, not just “tell him my feelings are hurt so he will understand the effect of his words.” My heart is legitimately heavy, and I feel like shit about the whole thing.
When Dylan does something I don’t like, I have a fork in the road ahead of me. I...
My son and I recently visited a Waffle House where it’s a lot of fun to watch your food being made right in front of you.
We decided to try some of the food at home.
Dylan shouted out his order, and I tried to make hash browns, cheesy eggs, and deep fried French fries (not an actual Waffle House food!) as good as you’d get at any greasy diner.
I’d even holler out “Order Up!” when the food was ready.
But I’m not a short order cook.
Dylan can’t drive, which puts me in the driver’s seat for helping get his out-of-the-house needs met. I take him to the grocery store, to recreational activities, to his friends’ houses, and to Walmart on allowance day.
But I’m not a chauffeur.
I do a lot of cleaning on Dylan’s behalf. I wash his dishes. I do his laundry. The older he gets the more he picks up after himself. But I still pick up after him quite a bit.
But I’m not a maid.
Usually when you hear a parent lament that they...
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