Wouldn’t it be great to have a “before” and “after” parenting show?
Last month I traveled on swanky Virgin America and enjoyed the guilty pleasure of watching “What Not to Wear”. Are you like me? Loving the transformation of the frumpy working gal into the self-confident put together chick? (Hint: I’m a great candidate – waiting to be nominated).
I’m drawn to the details of improvement – the way a crowded, gloomy living room, rearranged with better light, pillows, and plants becomes a welcoming space for activity and life. Powerful.
Let’s bring this analogy home to my role as parent. Here’s a situation I’m sure you’ll relate to. Notice the before and after scenes – I’m the same, loving mom in each. The difference is, in the second scene, I have a deeper understanding of Positive Discipline and with a few tweaks, the interaction with my daughter is transformed at the core.
The scene: I’m putting my 6 year-old, S, to bed and have just finished reading her a bedtime story.
S: Mom, I’m afraid.
Me: What are you afraid of? (a bit annoyed and really thinking “what could you possibly be afraid of?!”)
S: I’m scared to go to bed.
Me: There’s nothing to be scared of – you’re in your cozy bed and your family is home with you. (My annoyance is building.)
S: I’m still afraid.
Me: That’s silly cause you are perfectly safe. (I’m determined to leave and stop this conversation.)
As I leave the room a jumble of thoughts go through my mind:
- What have I done to make her so insecure?
- What’s wrong with her that she can’t simply go to sleep?
- What’s her fear going to become as she gets older?
- It’s simple, she hasn’t had enough hardship in her life – if she’d had more trials, like me, then she’d know what fear really is!
After (with a Positive Discipline approach):
S: Mom, I’m afraid.
Me: What are you afraid of?
S: I’m afraid to go to sleep. I’m afraid of all the normal stuff that people are afraid of.
Me: Where do you feel that in your body?
S: My heart. It’s like I have butterflies fluttering in my heart and frogs jumping in my stomach.
Me: Oh, that doesn’t sound good. (I place my hand on her heart).
S: Do you ever get scared?
Me: Yes. Remember last week when we were on the airplane and it was really bumpy and you were laughing and whooping it up? I was really afraid – I didn’t like how that felt AT ALL.
S: I was scared too but it was also fun and funny.
Me: People get scared of different things – I LOVE GOING TO BED.
I left the room, my daughter fell asleep. I wasn’t worried about her future. I felt close and connected to her.
Let’s look at some of the obvious differences in how I felt and acted in the two scenes.
- Stuck in limited “role” of mom
- Focus on how I’ve failed as a mom
- Interested in our shared human experience
- Willing to share my vulnerability
- In the present
- Faith in my daughter to figure it out
While there’s no perfect way to parent, we can make small, subtle shifts that bring in the light to reveal our higher self. When we allow this to happen, we truly sparkle. The end result? An intimate moment of precious connection with our child. There’s nothing more beautiful than that.
We have much to learn from each other.
In the comments below share what motivates you to go from scene 1 to 2? What helps you sparkle?
Next time you’re in that #1 scenario, stop, breath, connect, wait. Let us know what happens.
Contact me to learn more about parent and life coaching and future Parenting with Positive Discipline Classes.
Lisa – What a great, simple illustration. To me a big key is not being in a rush. When I put my daughter to bed, I am always in a hurry to get back downstairs, do the dishes, check my emails. Thanks for the reminder to take the time to listen and allow her to ask her questions and share her feelings.
Amen Margie. I know the racing heart of hurry all too well – sometimes I catch myself and breath – self talk what’s the hurry? Thanks for sharing.
This one really hit home for me, Lisa. I particularly feel the difference when I stay curious rather than judgmental. There’s a lot of “mindfulness” in the “after” example that really resonates with me.
I agree and one way I sense it in my body is relaxed vs. tense. Thanks Marcilie!
I’m not a parent, but it seems like a lot of this can apply to other relationships. There’s obviously more inherent responsibility in raising up a human as opposed to simply interacting with one, but it seems like life offers lots of opportunities to stop and be curious rather than judgmental of our fellow travelers. Sorry to go off topic, but I’d love to hear what you think Lisa!
You are right on topic my dear – practicing relentless curiosity could be interesting…. You are the most deeply curious person I know. Judgement is a closed door and curiosity an expansive vista. What’s your metaphore?
Well said Lisa. And thanks. I plan on practicing this evening. I don’t think either Rachel or Max will be scared to go to sleep; but I am almost sure there will be an opportunity for a deep breath and thoughtful approach. Thanks for the reminder.
Barb – you make me smile. Deep breathing is under-rated. Thanks for chiming in!