Often in the world of gentle discipline we are implored to look at our child’s needs and wants when they are acting in a way that we don’t understand or want. However, I often think that just attributing a reason “why” a child does something is really not enough or honestly, even always necessary. I have known and worked with a lot of children and their families, and I just don’t know as every childhood action that is trying or challenging to adults is the result of an unmet need that the parent needs to decipher. Yes, sometimes there are things going on that the child is feeling stressed about and cannot articulate well. Yes, we live in a fast-paced world and many children have an awful lot to deal with. Connection and attributing positive intent to a child’s often immature but developmentally appropriate actions are so important. But some actions are just things that children do for whatever reason, many times without really thinking at all. Continue reading
I was recently looking through Michele Borba’s book, “Parents Do Make A Difference: How To Raise Kids with Solid Character, Strong Minds, and Caring Hearts,” and this sentence jumped out at me:
“The kind of messages we send our children is critical. Expecting little from our kids limits their success, because they lose the incentive to try new possibilities. Unrealistic expectations can also damage our kids: “Why didn’t you get all A’s?” “How did you not make the team?” “You got a 98 percent – which two did you miss?” Pushing our kids because we want the best for them may be misinterpreted by them as “You’re not good enough.” Successful expectations gently stretch our children’s potential to become their best without pushing them to be more than they can be. And these expectations never destroy children’s feelings of adequacy.”
The author goes on to discuss using the parameters of “developmentally appropriate, realistic, child-oriented, and success-oriented” as barometers for whether an expectation is healthy or not.
I talk a lot about development on this blog, and have included realistic expectations as part of the developmental posts for each age. You can access many back posts to look at that. However, here is a quick rule of thumb: Continue reading
The first part of this series can be found here, including some really interesting comments regarding attachment parenting and enmeshment, attachment parenting and children learning to have self-reliance: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/01/23/attachment-parenting-whats-going-on/
So, on with my list of the ways I feel attachment parenting as sometimes been misconstrued and misunderstood, coming from my experience of being in the attachment community for the last 11 years:
Number Two: The only way to guide a child is to talk to them, and talk some more, no matter what the child’s age. I think if we look at the child as moving through the stages of imitation, short explanations, needing a loving authority figure, going into cause and effect reasoning around the age of twelve and then moving into mentorship, apprenticeship, and such during the teenaged years, a completely verbal approach cannot and should not be the answer for children of all ages. I have written about the idea of combining thinking, feeling and willing for the guiding of a child many times and in many ways on this blog.
Sometimes I think attached parents use excessive talking to a child to not only communicate and explain, but, (in all honesty!) in hopes that the child will agree with them. This way we can still all be friends! This can be a very passive way to set a boundary.
Just because you are attached and connected to your children doesn’t mean they are always going to agree with you!
So, I wish the attachment parenting community would Continue reading
I wrote about the intersection of attachment parenting and Waldorf education some years ago in a back post, but it has been on my mind again lately…And then, just this week, there was a wonderful thread regarding this topic on Marsha Johnson’s firstname.lastname@example.org list. Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie of Wonder Of Childhood (http://thewonderofchildhood.com/) had some particularly wise and insightful things to say about the journey of the parent as a part of Waldorf parenting (which we often see in the work of biography in Waldorf Education, as we, the teacher and the parent, strive to heal and understand ourselves because we are not just teaching academic subjects but teaching how we view the world and who we are!) and how this intersects with attachment parenting.
My husband and I have attachment parented three children ages 11 to 3 as of this writing. I have been involved and am still involved in attachment parenting at my local community level, and I receive a lot of mail and questions from attached parents all over the world, so I think I am in a unique situation to know what’s going on in the world of attached parents.
So, today I want to write about some of the ways I personally think attachment parenting has been misunderstood and misconstrued. Again, this is my opinion, so please take what resonates for you, and leave the rest behind. There really are no road maps for the attachment parenting of the older child; I believe there is a book out by Isabelle Fox on this subject and I think I read it a long time ago but yet I have little impression of it at this point Therefore, these are just some of my observations from seeing attached children that are now over the age of seven, up through the teenaged years.
The attached mothers I have spoken to who have children over the age of 7 or 8 wouldn’t change the fact that they are attachment parenting but many of them would change HOW they did it. Most of the things they would change has to do with rhythm, how they communicated with the young child, and boundaries for the entire family.
So, without a road map for the older child, here is my perspective after being in the attachment community for eleven years now:
Number One: Some feel that in order to be an attached parent, the approach must be completely child-centered – ie, the child sets the rhythm, whatever the child wants to do the parent does their best to make it happen, anything the child says and does requires the attention of the parent. Yet, Jean Liedloff herself wrote about the unhappy consequences of being completely child-centered here: http://www.continuum-concept.org/reading/whosInControl.html
Actually, I think the attachment literature that has sprung up has done Continue reading
“Second only to learning how to bond, to form strong attachments, the most important thing parents can give children is a sense of responsibility – knowing what they are responsible for and knowing what they aren’t responsible for, knowing how to say no and knowing how to accept no. Responsibility is a gift of enormous value….We’ve all been around middle-aged people who have the boundaries of an eighteen-month old. They have tantrums or sulk when others set limits on them, or they simply fold and comply with others just to keep the peace. Remember that these adult people started off as little people. They learned long, long ago to either fear or hate boundaries. The relearning process for adults is laborious.” – page177-178, “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
“Sad at heart, the King stepped from behind the screen, took the Prince by the hand, and led him away from the school. When they reached the royal palace, the King spoke thus to his son: “Anyone who has to be King someday and to rule over other people must first learn to rule over himself.” – From the short story “The Prince Who Could Not Read” in the book “Verses and Poems and Stories to Tell” by Dorothy Harrer
Helping a child learn to take responsibility for themselves is one of the hardest and most challenging tasks in parenting and also one of the most necessary. Continue reading
The Collect for today, Easter Thursday, has to do with showing in our lives that which we profess to believe. It seemed a very nice way to say that statement so many of us have heard: “Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk.”
In many times, this can be the most daunting part of parenting. Our lives become transparent and our children see all the parts, even the parts we think we have hidden from them. We cannot be less than our authentic selves; our children know.
This leaves us with really having to work on ourselves. What do we honestly think is real, true, sacred, noble? How do we show this in our lives to our children without saying a word? Are there areas in our lives that don’t match up with what we say we believe? And if this is so, how do we make all areas of our lives align with what we say we believe?
This alignment comes with sacrifice sometimes, and requires an exertion of will. If we do the same things over and over again with less than satisfactory results, than we must overcome our own inertia and do something different.
We live in this strange age where thoughts and feelings fly over technology; action is done by a push of a button. We have forgotten how to live in concert with the season and almost seem surprised when weather intrudes on our lives. It leads to a situation,where quite frankly, we often don’t have to do much exertion of our own will anymore. I wrote a post about developing the adult will some time ago and was just looking at it today: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/30/the-adult-will-and-how-to-develop-it/
Rudolf Steiner gave an interesting exercise to help in the development of initiative and control of the will. He proposed choosing an activity that is simple and perhaps unrelated to what you normally would do at that time of day, such as just opening and shutting a door or window or watering a plant, and do it at the same time every day.
I think the other piece of developing the will that can be hard in this day and age is to think and come to grips with the fact that we cannot “have it all” and when we do things on a consistent basis that are not in line with our professed values, it ripples an effect into our lives, and into our children’s lives. So, I ask you does it foster in you the real, the true, the sacred, the noble?
I know in this impersonal electronic medium, these thoughts have the possibility of coming off as unloving or holier than thou or damning. None of this is my intent. It is just questions for you to ask yourself: how does my walk match my talk and how could I align these two things more and more for my own holistic health and that of my children?
Just for today, step up and be the parent.
Just for today, stop making excuses and explaining all the reasons things can’t happen in your household and just make it happen.
Just for today, live your life in accordance with your values in front of your children.
Just for today, model how you want your children to behave.
Just for today, show your children the world is a place of beauty, truth and goodness.
Just for today, have empathy for all the hardships present in growing up.
Just for today, speak to your children kindly, even if they are not speaking kindly to you.
Just for today, get a sense of humor.
Just for today, set boundaries and stick calmly to those boundaries even if your children don’t like it.
Just for today, be the parent you want to be for the sake of your grandchildren.
Just for today, have fun.
Just for today, step up and be the parent because you are the only parent your children have.
Love to all,