When a child is raised with regular, ongoing evaluations of what’s wrong with them, what they have to be ashamed of, how they “always” talk or act or behave in some way that is judged to be negative, how do you think that child is going to grow up to see themselves?
Those negative evaluations will continue on into adulthood, along with the self-criticism, judgment and shame too. The only way out is for the grown adult to learn to turn that programming off, and figure out some ways of treating themselves with more understanding, compassion and kindness.
There is a saying that it’s easier to raise a child peacefully than it is to try to undo a broken adult.
Changing programming as an adult is hard. How many of us are involved in doing that to some degree or another? Whether that is in therapy, yoga, exercise, meditation or other healing practices.
Most adults will find themselves broken or traumatized in one way or another. But at least for me, as a Dad I feel it’s important to do the best I can to help lessen the impact.
What I have come to understand is the difference I can make and the power I have to shape my son’s perception of himself.
That’s why I choose peaceful parenting.
I don’t want my son to suffer so much of the self-doubt and second guessing that I have experienced in life. At a minimum, I don’t want my son to go through his life feeling unsafe to express himself with me, and hiding who he really is in order to win my approval and acceptance.
I don’t have any illusion that my parenting approach is the only factor in my son’s life influencing the choices he will make in the future, but it is the area in which I have the most control. I can’t do much about the cultural or social conditioning he’ll grow up around. But I can take a look at myself and my own parenting and ask what really is the best approach for him, and for me what’s best is peaceful parenting.
Peaceful Parenting Is Hard Work
Yes, peaceful parenting can be harder than other approaches.
I think sometimes people see the word “peaceful” and see some kind of glamorous appeal to it. But then you get into it, and you find that it’s often very tough work, because it involves a lot of mindfulness and awareness of our own triggers and emotional wounds that we’ve actually been denying or stuffing away for years and years.
Peaceful parenting really does ask us to challenge ourselves, and to say to ourselves: ‘No I am not going to repress my pain any longer. I’m going to face it and do what I need to do to heal myself.’ Or, it asks us to stay patient just a little bit longer, or to choose an empathetic response over a dismissive or scornful reaction.
That isn’t always so easy. It is hard work. But I choose it again and again.
Instead of snapping at my son, I listen and ask what’s going on.
Instead of threatening some harsh consequence if my demands aren’t met, I listen with empathy and find a way to cooperate and work on a solution with my son together.
And instead of asking that he change his attitude, I ask of myself to change my own attitude.
For me, this is why I choose peaceful parenting.
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