Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem in Your Children and Yourself”

“When I was a child myself, however, I was told and thus believed that my purpose in life was to be a nice little girl.  When I grew up, I found I was a very nice lady.  By being “nice” I avoided situations that called for much power and yielded to others to avoid power struggles…..Luckily, my children have taught me differently.” – page 105

This chapter is all about empowerment and the need for all human beings to feel confident and competent. Power comes from the Latin word poder meaning “to be able.”

We cannot have a winning family if it is constantly about power, in a negative sense, where there are attacks and counter-attacks so someone in the family wins and someone in the family loses. This is essentially what the author calls “power taking”- when people try to dominate or disempower others.  If this happens within a family, someone in the family will be victimized.

A winning family will “power share” – power is cooperative, mutual,nurturing. People share power within the family, and with this everyone’s personal power is expanded.

Power plays out in four different personality types:

  • Powerless – the person is helpless, dependent, insecure
  • Powerful – confident, capable, in control,
  • Empowering – supportive, encouraging, challenging
  • Overpowering – dominating, manipulative, arrogant, pushy

The author asks the question that if these were four people standing in a room, who would be attracted to each other?  Who would avoid each other?  This sort of reflection can help one look at the balance of power in the home, and look at the power distribution between the adults in the home and the relationship between the adults and the children.

The author  also talks about how in general society has become a place of disconnection and competition and how the easiest way to reclaim the power by being divided and conquered is to unite with others who share the same common experience. There is a section about violence and how this impacts women and children as the primary victims and how children who are raised in violent homes also become victims. Instead of wounding our children and perpetuating the cycle of violence, we can learn to heal ourselves.  The end of the chapter tackles gender and violence, and then has a section on “Family Empowerment.”  Under family empowerment, the author lists things to teach our children:

  • To be respectful of themselves and others
  • To be responsible for their behavior
  • That they have personal body rights
  • To be assertive
  • To be sensitive
  • To be nonviolent
  • To avoid dangers but to fight their battles
  • To have high self-esteem – people who value themselves and others do not tolerate abuse

The chapter ends with, “Our homes can be a refuge – a haven of love and safety, a source of strength and support.  You have the power to create a supportive and peaceful family where people are for, not against, each other.  Children need to feel safe at home. So do you.”

The next chapter is about discipline without damage, and you won’t want to miss it!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Your Children and Yourself”

This is a fantastic book by Dr. Louise Hart with lots of solid advice for creating a peaceful and productive family life.  You can see back posts regarding Chapters 1-10; today we are looking at Chapter 11, which is entitled, “Parenting Leadership Styles.” One of the very first blog posts I wrote in 2008 back when I started writing was about gentle discipline as authentic leadership, so I was excited to delve into this chapter.

The chapter begins with asking the basic question:

  • Were you raised by tyrants?
  • Were you raised by not being raised?
  • Were you raised by leaders who balanced their powers with freedom and caring?

In an autocratic (tyrannical) parenting style, children often want to be told what to do because they are trying to avoid punishment and they want to please their parents. Children raised in this style often lack a sense of personal responsibility and distrust their own feelings.  They may be compliant or they may become rebellious and defiant over time.

In a permissive parenting style, parents give up any power at all and may be checked out due to substance abuse problems, their own baggage and woundedness, illness, or disinterest. In these families, because there are no rules, children don’t learn any boundaries at all, have trouble with limits, feel they have the right to do whatever it is that they wish, or may take on a role reversal with the parents.  They may eventually become violent toward their parents or seek out highly structured groups as an adult.

In a democractic leadership style, everyone’s needs in the family are considered important. Parents offer choices and treat their children as capable beings who can make decisions. They teach children how to take responsibility.  They provide structure.  Children learn to respect rules and become responsible, and how to become capable.

Some families have a mix of styles between parents – one may be very permissive and the other very autocratic and rigid.  This happens frequently, but by realizing this and talking about this, even by employing family meetings, different choices can be made.

When children are small, we have to assume control and provide boundaries and as children grow, we can provide a framework for freedom with responsibiity and good choices at the forefront.  We provide a sense of teamwork and empowerment. In Appendix C of this book there is a helpful table summarizing the information in this chapter.

More to come!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Yourself and Your Child”

How is everyone doing reading along in this fabulous book?  We are up to Chapters 9 and 10, and these are great chapters.

Chapter 9 is entitled, “Parenting Responses That Affect Self-Esteem” and it gives a number of different scenarios with responses from a nurturing parent, a structured parent, a marshmallow parent, and a criticizing parent.  I think this could be really helpful to parents new to different developmental stages.  If you are curious about the differences in these responses, I refer you to the scenarios but in a nutshell:

Nurturing Responses – based on respect, love, support, encourages self-responsibility, parents help children, children are seen as having capacity to grow and succeed, warm

Structuring Responses – also based on respect, but offer more set limits and sometimes demands a performance outcome; expects children to be capable and responsible.  This kind of response can work well WITH a nurturing response.

Marshmallow Responses – grants freedom but doesn’t make a child accountable or responsible.  It sounds supportive, but in reality views children as inadequate and incapable.  It blames others, or the situation for a problem.  Views children as fragile.

Criticizing Responses – based on disrespect, ridicule, blaming, fault finding, comparing, labeling.  Humor is often cruel, touch is not warm but instead punishing.

What style do you use the most?  The good news is that it is possible to change your response style!  You can catch your children being good, you can find the things they are doing right, you can give up blaming and fault finding.  Mistakes can be fixed, and children can learn responsibility!  

Chapter 10 is about parents being leaders.  I love this, as it was one of the first topics I ever blogged about when I started this blog 10 YEARS ago!  So, if we are going to be leaders, we need

1- Vision, direction, goals.

2- We need to communicate our vision, direction, goals.

3.  We need to keep focused

4. – We need to consider the needs of others  – we are team as a family!  This is the FIRST place that children learn teamwork.  Team sports are awesome, but the family is the first team!

5. – Support the progress – support over the obstacles.

6.- Expect success!

If you are a REACTIVE parent, you are reacting, usually with threats, force, criticism, humiliation, ridicule, punishment.  We can, instead, be proactive!  What are the biggest sticking points for the day?  How could thing flow smoother?  What is our big vision as a family and how are we communicating that?  If you want to see more, here is a post I wrote some time ago about writing a Family Mission Statement.  Pages 93-94 of this book also talk about crafting a vision of a Winning Family.

A closing thought from page 94:  “If you live your life from your highest values, you will bring peace and compassion to your family, community, and world.”

The change begins with us!  Please leave me a comment and if you have a link to your Family Mission Statement, I would love to read it!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Your Children and Yourself”

(For those of you following along with this book study, we are on Chapters 7 and 8 today).

Chapter 7 opens with this statement, which I love so much:

Everyone is born with a full deck of capabilities – physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional.  We need to learn to play them well in order to become healthy, fully functioning adults.

The author goes on to write:

In our society we learn that certain feelings are approriate and fitting for males, others for females.  But emotions are neither masculine nor feminine; emotions are human.  We need to experience a full range of feeling to be fully human.  When this does not happen, we unconciously may pass on our own emotional limitations to our children.

What emotions are you allowed to express in your family?  What about in your childhood? All feelings are okay, all actions are not.  Was that something you were ever taught?  How do you teach this to your children?

This chapter gives strategies for dealing with feelings – accepting and acknowledging, intervening at the level of the thought or the behavior or granting the wish in fantasy. This chapter goes through all the different emotions – trust, guilt and shame, grief, anger, resentment, forgiveness,  gratitude, and then coping skills and ways to handle all of these emotions.  It is a lovely chapter, probably the one I have loved the most in this book!

Chapter 8  talks about The Power of Words. The way we speak to our children breathes life into them (or despair).  This chapter talks about ‘killer statments” (things one should never say); “crooked communication” where things sound positive first but really are quite negative and damaging, and then self-esteem builders.

The author also talks about the use of “thank yous” and how this simple phrase helps to relieve burnout and makes one feel appreciated, especially is one is praised not just for the final outcome, but for the effort.

When we say negative words to our children, we can correct them. We can apologize; we can say that we would like to say that differently or that we would like to take it back.  This helps in the phase of switching over to stopping so much criticism of our children and our family members.  Increasing appreciation, compliments, and support only helps improve the entire family atmosphere.

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem In Your Children and Yourself”

For those of you following along with our book study, we are looking at Chapters Five and Six today.  This is an incredible book by Dr. Louise Hart that I feel gets at many of the issues affecting parents and how they discipline their children today.

Chapter Five begins with the baggage that many of us lived through – the era of “children should be seen and not heard.”  Dr. Hart points out that with this style of parenting, many children were “deprived of the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions and to gain confidence in their own abilities.  Many of them came to believe that what they had to say wasn’t important, that they weren’t important, or even that no one cared about them.”

I personally think this may have led to some of the present problems I see with the number of narcissists on the rise.  If it was never about them when they were children and there was a severe lack of attachment, and everything was shut down communication-wise as they grew older, I think perhaps many of these people never received the guidance or ideas as to how to integrate into a family grouping.  Of course, some people withstood this and grew up to be amazing, sensitive and fabulous communicators.  The author points out she didn’t feel really listened to until she was seventeen years old, and then by a friend, not her family.  That just seems a shame!

“Real listening expresses interest and caring.  It is a powerful and intimate experience that enhances self-esteen and friendship.” Parts of listening are listed on page 35-36  in my book and I urge you to look at this list.   Good communication also involves taking turns (so no interrupting or going completely off the topic in order to be an effective communicator on either side), and it involves giving feedback.  It involves practice to really be able to communicate in this way!

Chapter Six is about asking and refusal skills, and talks about the three simple ways people to try to get what they want:

Monster Ways – shouting, venting anger, hitting, manipulating, intimidating others.

Mouse Ways – crying, whining, begging, pouting, hinting, hoping someone will read your mind.

The author points out that stereotypically, males are taught aggressive ways of communicating and females are taught a very passive way of communicating.  I am so happy about this generation of parenting, because I think the parents that are teaching communication skills to their children are teaching their girls and boys assertive communication skills.  It involves knowing what you want and asking for what you want, with a timing that is SENSITIVE to the other people in the household or group (the last part may be the most  left out part when we teach our children).

We also need to teach children to ask questions when they don’t know the answers or understand.  This is especially important in tweens and teens that believe they know all the answers, and therefore have no need to ask more deeply. This is especially important to teach childen who have special needs, so they can advocate for themselves the older they get, but I think it is important for all children.

The other side of this asking, though, is the answer.  If someone is consistently wishy-washy and without boundaries, that can also be frustrating.  In this age of teaching children to say “no” to various things, we also need to be on the lookout for ourselves as to what we need to say “no” to as well.  “No” is a perfect word all by itself, and parents have to be able to say “no” in order to set boundaries for children.  If you can’t say no to things without couching it with a paragraph, why?  What negativity does no mean to you? How you say no makes a difference, of course, but no is important as it helps us develop our own freedom, our own power, our own control, our own self-definition.   A simple no in parenting works better than threats (“I’m going to do x if you don’t stop y.”)  How much better is just “No!  You may not do that!”   The flip side of this is that if you are saying “no” all the time, then perhaps you need help with your environment, your support network, your own baggage.  If your toddler is touching everything in the house, and it’s a constant “no”, maybe you need to re-evaluate what kinds of things are out in your house for a toddler to get into.  If you say “no” to every request from everyone, maybe you need some support.  If you can’t say “no” at all, maybe you need to explore why you can’t.

Next up, dealing with feelings!    It’s a great chapter full of insight.

Blessings,
Carrie

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem in Your Children and Yourself

Today we are diving into Chapters Three and Four.  If you are just picking up this book from your bookstore or library, there are back posts on the Preface and on Chapters One and Two.

“Negativity is so common that it seems normal in our culture.  Like pollution, it creeps into our homes and under our skin.” – Author Dr. Louise Hart, Chapter 3.

I love this chapter,  entitled, “Self- Esteem Protection Skills,” because it reinforces the rather constant battle I personally have with capturing negative thoughts or words or self-doubt myself, and also the outside exposure our children get regarding negative messages just from our culture.  This chapter points out that our self-esteem needs protection from all of these toxic things, and if we protect and nurture our children’s self-esteem, (I like the term self-confidence a lot and tend to use these two terms interchangeably as I read this book), then we end up spending less time putting ourselves back together after toxic events or emotions and can teach our chidren to do that, instead of learning adverse self-soothing behaviors such as using alcohol or drugs or food or avoidance.

Over two pages of strategies are listed in this chapter for dealing with negativity and toxicity.  I think what I am going to do is paint a little spot on our wall for “health and wellness” and go through some of these strategies each week with our children, who are now all (close to! next month!) nine and up. I feel nine is an age to start learning some of these strategies for life, and some of the strategies are ones that children aged nine could certainly learn and use, because they involve setting clear boundaries.

Chapter Four, entitled, “I Know They Love Me, But I Don’t Feel It,” and talks about the two parts to communicating:  to send the message and to have the message received.  Many of us “knew” we were loved by our parents but many of us also didn’t really “feel” we were loved.   Loving a child does not necessarily mean the child feels loved.   There was a passage about fathers in this chapter, and how many fathers never felt loved themselves and worked long hours and had little contact with their children. I think this has improved since the time this book was published, but it brings up the point of what did we want from our own parents, and did we get?

This chapter also brings up an entire list of what does not communicate love, which includes a lack of boundaries and overpermissiveness, martyrdom, overprotection, material possessions, quantity time but without quality, and conditions.

So what communicates love to a child? Memories built on fun!, being with our children not just in the times when we have to do something for them, taking them seriously, really listening, using positive words and respect.

There is a wonderful exercise in the chapter to list twenty things that you love to do and note when you last did them  and every day try to do one of these things.  As you take care of yourself, then you can take amazing care of your children. If you do something you love this week and follow me on IG, please take a pic and use the hashtags #theparentingpassageway #winningfamily so we can all encourage each other!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Book Study: “The Winning Family: Increasing Self-Esteem in Your Children and Yourself”

Chapters One and Two of this lovely book by Dr. Louise Hart is like a balm for the soul! The opening of chapter one talks about how the real work of parenting is often unsupported and undervalued.  Parenting is the most important job as what we do when our children are small often goes on to affect not only the child him or herself, but future generations.  The author points out we are influenced by our family, our culture, and the times we live in – but that the family can be the most important influence.

We have a choice as to what patterns we have learned and if we choose to repeat these patterns with our children.  We can rise above our old patterns, if only we can see them for what they are!  The author suggests taking a look at our own biographies – what made us feel loved or not loved, what was discipline like in the family in which you were raised, what helped you feel good or bad about yourself, how did the people in your family communicate? We can learn from our own biographies and heal our own woundedness.  We can do this in place of wounding our children.

Children imitate us, so let’s give them the models of how we think, how we love, what we value, how we problem- solve, how we resolve conflict.  We are teaching and modeling for our children all of the time!  If we don’t have new and productive patterns to give, then we must raise our own self-esteem in order to have this to give to our children.

In Chapter Two, the author talks about how we make healthy children from the inside out by valuing who the child is, what the child is, and accepting the child as they develop and grow.  We show them that we have self-worth and our own dignity.  We have the absolute right to be treated with self-respect, the right to be happy, the right to accept ourselves.   People with low self-esteem will try to prove themselves through what they do (possibly workaholics or bragging about accomplishments), what they have (materialism), what they know, how they perform in front of others, how they look, who they are friends with or married to.  These are external conditions!  People who seek approval or who are people pleasers are thinking of external value.  True self-esteem is based upon who we are.  We can cherish ourselves and who we are!

Children look up to us as adults and authority figures.  We reflect back to them what we “value” and see in them.  This becomes the basis for self-image for children, and influences their lives.  Children identify with labels given to them.  Our children are not broken; they don’t have deficits.  They are who they are, their strengths and their challenges.  Let us love them in joy. Self-esteem with children begins with bonding.  This early primary attachment through touching, rocking, cuddling, cooing, making eye contact, soothing, breastfeeding becomes the bonding for the future.  Love with complete acceptance is outside of daily behavior or “bad days”.

“Children have their own life force, their own opinions, dreams, and destinies.  The challenge of parenting is to allow and encourage children to be themselves while guiding, supporting, and celebrating their process of growth.  Successful parents not only love their children unconditionally, but also protect them, set limits, and assume as much responsibility as is necessary for the children’s age and developmental stage.” – page 13.  Such a great statement!  The limits and what we do for children should change with their age, and the letting go we do as children age into the upper teen years provides the basis for the older teenager’s self-confidence and self-worth.

There is a great self-esteem game to play at the end of Chapter Two – try it out!  This is such a tremendous book, please don’t miss out.  Grab a copy at your local library or through Amazon and follow along!

Blessings,

Carrie