Great parenting is all about attachment.
It’s all about the connection, and the attunement between parent and child. The feeling of closeness and togetherness. A deep understanding the child has of feeling accepted and appreciated.
You can argue about the importance of other principles. Empathy, non-violence, respect, being supportive, etc. And those are definitely important and need to be honored.
But it really comes down to the attachment. It’s about keeping the attachment close, and keeping the bond strong.
With any of the other peaceful parenting principles, when you ask why those are important, it usually goes back to attachment. For example, why do you choose non-violence? (besides it obviously being wrong to hit your kids) Because violence breaks the bond and creates distrust.
Why do you have empathy with your kids? It helps them feel understood and emotionally close to you. Whereas if you scream and threaten and demand, it breaks the connection/attachment.
Why do you want to be accepting and supportive (instead of controlling and threatening)? It helps the child feel empowered instead of shamed and disconnected. In other words, it strengthens the attachment.
So whenever you’re in a situation with your child and you don’t know what to do, or you don’t know how to handle, ask yourself what will create a strong attachment and bond? Versus what actions might create disconnection or might break the attachment?
It’s not always so obvious or easy to do. Sometimes it requires a bit of creative thinking. For example, maybe you have to leave somewhere on time, and your child doesn’t want to leave the house. Well you could threaten a punishment, you could hit in some way, you could yell and shout, or you might warn that tv time would be taken away later. And one of those might very well get them to do what you want in that moment. Or, you could take the time to lovingly explain to them the importance of getting to this appointment, and that you understand their desire to stay and continue playing. You can empathize deeply with how frustrating it is that they are being asked to put their toys away and go for a car ride which they don’t like, and be taken somewhere they don’t really enjoy going. You can acknowledge that upset they have and validate those feelings, while also gently explaining why this particular appointment (or shopping trip, or whatever it is) needs to be made.
Which is easier? Maybe the threat is easier, and maybe it’s quicker too. It’s not always so easy to acknowledge and validate feelings when you the parent are stressed and concerned about being late.
But the question remains, which approach creates more disconnection, and which one keeps the attachment strong?
Great parenting is making the choice to keep the attachment strong. Even though it may sometimes seem like the more difficult choice in the short term, in the long term, it’s worth it.
It’s always worth it to be loving, kind, empathetic, understanding, validating, and treating your child with respect and the dignity they deserve.
It’s all about the attachment. That’s the thing to keep in mind – always.
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