Negotiating the treacherous waters of parenting can be anxiety provoking and discouraging.
This results from both internal insecurity and external unpredictability.
Three steps will keep you in the flow and having fun as you reclaim the role of mama/papa/leader.
Step 1. Strengthen your connection to your personal sensory guidance system. This is the connection to the information freeway from your five senses and your intuition. This is information about your environment, your child, and others that assists you in making thoughtful decisions. Step 2. Trust your knowing of your child. Listen to him or her – listen with your ears, your heart, and your sensory guidance system. Step 3. Guide with strength and lovingkindness. Be self-confident and go with the flow. Be patient, kind, and firm. Say I am sorry, and make efforts to shift your responses to best meet you child’s needs. Model respect and trust by being respectful and trustworthy. In all your disciplinary responses focus on learning and loving; be loving and sensitive to the multi-level issues involved, respond quickly and clearly, and use the opportunity to teach joy and strength in being a responsible person; an individual connected to a community.
To help you embrace the three steps, understanding the nature of the parenting is key.
Parenting is modeled.
This means that you learn how to parent from your interpretation of your own parenting. This concept of learning social interactions through your group associations is a function of how the human brain develops over the first 24 years of life; and a part of what happens whenever you enter a new social group, environment.
What you see done is what you incorporate into doing to others and to yourself; as you age the internalized reflection of yourself becomes solidified. Once you are into middle age the malleability of your reflection, your internalized sel-persona/picture requires a release of the accepted self and a reevaluation of ‘who you are’… due to the solidified nature of your introjected self, often this requires a traumatic event to shift your internal accepted picture of self.
There is a strong desire to be accepted and approved of by your significant others (beginning with moms and dads, and then moving on to peers).
You know who you are and how you should be treated, what you perceive as your role in relationship, from what is reflected to you by your parents, your primary caregivers, and your first social groups –> your siblings and cousins, and then your peers, friends.
So, if there is dysfunction or trauma or damage in those early relationships you have deficits in your ability to navigate the waters of parenting your children.
Cognitive/behavioral therapy, meditation, yoga, and mindfulness development uplevel your consciousness so that you can shift and rebalance your inner self perception and your outer actions.
Trust, be trustworthy, act with strength and kindness, be forgiving and persevering.
As you guide, be willing to incorporate new information about your child or your beliefs and make adjustments to your course to align your actions, beliefs/values, and your parenting.
Parenting is a dynamic, organic (as in living and responsive to environmental changes) process.
Be confident, proactive, reflective, flexible, and trustworthy in your actions and intentions.
Be willing to adjust your response and be flexible as you see the need to do so and be firm when you perceive this is important.
Respond with seriousness to serious problems, and playfulness with problems which are not serious; stay responsive and discern the difference.in love and light, bg
In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share two poetic experiences of motherhood for me.
Max and Beautiful Alien (kate). I am so lucky to understand the world of mother through Birthing and Grafting to my family tree… These beings filling my mothering world with joy, challenge, and satisfaction.
Secretly, I want to hold you here
Keep you right here with me
Never let you go.
I want this moment to be held in time.
This perfect moment,
When my dreams come true in a kaleidoscope of joy.
my whole life Before I knew you,
Before I knew myself really;
I have been waiting this whole time to hear you call me MOM
And now this moment has happened.
This joy, so profound, I don’t want to let go.
I don’t want the next moment to come.
I want time —————– Suspended.
Perfection transforms into the mundane.
creates a new world;
opens a reality that changes everything;
Creates it’s own time-suspension through transformation.
Joy like an inner smile, constantly warming me, knows only the new world.
What we created transformed us both;
Birthed us each anew
to this perfect brave new world.
(kate mary sophia)
This being in my belly grows
She consumes my energy
Transforming each molecule into her growth
I am struck by her sheer, survivalistic nature
just taking what she needs to grow.
As for me I graciously give, in a protective, one-minded sort of way,
Through a deep feeling of care and maternalistic nature
Dissociating myself from my own needs in order to first meet hers.
Thank god for the chemicals in my brain that endear her to me
Without that, my body might dispose of her, interpret her a parasite…
Like a caterpillar engorging himself with each green life he touches
Building energy to transform
So does she devour whatever energy available, taking from my reserve if necessary
This process of development is deeply ingrained in my being
Stored in the center of each cell
Awakened by the first want of her
Never to be extinguished.
Creates me as the chrysalis,
transforming not just one being but two.
I now understand the plight of the caterpillar driven forward
Toward his destiny of metamorphosis.
I too feel the hardening of the walls
The change looming
Until I am someone
Not previously here…
Forever changed into Mother
Never to be the other again.
What fun to mark mother’s day with remembrance of the power of caring, and the inter-transformational effect of mother and child….write a poem for yourself to mark the beauty of your relationship either with your mother or your child; this exercise can shift your perspective positively. In love and light, Namaste, bg
When you feel like a failure as a parent, or have a challenging parenting situation,
apply the 12 step program
To shift your defeat, or discouragement to courage and healing:
1. admit you are not perfect.
2. recognize you are powerless to be perfect at all times with every child
3. connect with a higher power and engage that sense of spirituality to support you.
4. honestly reflect and identify the mistakes and flaws you bring to parenting.
5. humbly admit to your spiritual support, partner, loyal friend – your imperfection and reaffirm your commitment to do your best.
6./7. Reaffirm your trust in yourself and your team; Be willing and ready to shift out of the habits that do not serve you and embrace more effective styles of parenting.
8/9/10. identify injuries or mistakes you have made; say you are sorry to your kids for these mistakes; make a commitment to not do it again; stay connected, and repeat when necessary.
11. practice compassion, meditation, prayer and lovingkindness toward yourself and your kids.
12. be a helper to your peer parents rather than a competitor or bully; share your positive experiences with love.
How to help kids do better on tests.
Prepare: talk about what testing is and what it really means. Testing can help you know what you are good at and where you have limitations; allow the truth to be neutralized so it doesn’t get blown out of proportion.
Discuss (in communication, parents sometimes think that what they have to say is the most important thing – it matters, but what your child thinks/feel/and wants to say matters equally). Listen as much as you talk when discussing. Actively listen with your third ear to what is underneath, the meaning in the content and the energy of the words.
Deflect: shift energy away from competition, being best, pushing ahead, and any anxiety provoking thinking equation regarding the outcome of the test. From what you discussed in the above section you will have identified what may be causing fears or anxieties for your child – accept this, and neutralize it, sometimes neutralization means acknowledging that the thing feared may happen; talk about that and help your child understand that he or she has the ability to respond to that situation if it happens. This teaches empowerment and response – ability; this allows your child to accentuate his strengths and deemphasize his limitations.
Define – clarify what is involved in testing. Try to not say it doesn’t matter and try to not act like it is the most important thing; find a balance in how you encourage your child to do his best and be proud of what that best is. If your child really does have a learning special need – help with that. If she’s too revved up – teach her skills to bring to neutral or move into the next gear, which means to use the extra energy efficiently: Teach her now that it is her responsibility to manage her special character so she can use you to help learn how to do this. If he’s spacey and distracted – teach him to develop ways to get himself focused, or more revved up for the task: Teach him it is his responsibility to manage his special character, so that he can find a way to embrace the whole of who he is. He may find that special character and his solution to it, is what makes him unique and this will empower him.
Know your child. Use your knowing to help him or her be the best he or she can be. Don’t worry about arena or group-mind. Trust yourself and your authentic knowing of your child to be the best judge for him or her.
Here are some simple biofeedback tricks: stare at your hand. Tense relax. Mantras. Song tunes for memory training.
Importance of sleep, eating, no stress, acceptance, and esteem: these are biological, emotional, and physical needs that when off interfere with your child doing his or her best. Do what you can to keep these in balance.
Hope this is really helpful. in love and light, bg
There has been a lot of research regarding the effects of disciplining children with physical punishment and spanking. These studies have been conducted since 1990 and have consistently indicated negative results for this style of discipline especially an increase in aggressive and antisocial behavior on the part of the spanked child, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012).
Proponents of spanking as a form of discipline argue against this relationship indicating that the children who need to be spanked or physically punished are already more aggressive and so this explains the connection between increased aggression in children who are spanked.
This recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal spanning over twenty years controlled for this issue precisely and addressed the issue of causality. The study followed children who were physically punished as a form of discipline and children who were not.
The study shows that children who are physically punished get more aggressive over time and those that are not physically punished get less aggressive over time. Furthermore, it looked at studies where parents that were taught to change their methods from physical punishment to non-violent methods of discipline saw a decline in aggressive behavior in their children, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).
What is also good about this study is it looks at “everyday” acts of aggression so it is addressing the kind of physical punishment that is most common and it links these with increased aggression over time.
It also showed that those children that are spanked or hit are more likely to be aggressive toward family members or peers and exhibit other antisocial behavior.
The study’s analysis shows that there are short-term benefits to spanking, as it stops the unwanted behavior for the immediate situation; But these short-term benefits are at the cost of some very negative long-term effects. It is linked to an increase in aggressive behavior in the long-term.
One of the Key Points of the study shows that NO study has found that physical punishment enhances developmental health (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p1); there is no link between positive behavior and corporeal punishment in the long-run.
The authors reported on a meta-analysis of studies since 1990 published in 2002 and conducted their own analysis to date and discovered no study – regardless of the sample size, or age of child – has been able to establish positive associations with physical discipline, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).
This is telling because from an anecdotal perspective spanking and hitting as a disciplinary tool are very common. Writing from my observations in my practice and the parents I know socially, I would estimate that over 75 percent use physical punishment and spanking to discipline their children; other polls have quoted 80 percent (Time, 2.6.2012, online).
In my experience, when talking with parents about this subject, individuals who were physically punished offer information about how they feel it was good for them; identifying specific skills they learned as a result.
However, upon examination what becomes more clear is that their learning was a result of them applying their own mindfulness to the situation to make sense out of the hitting, NOT as a result of some direct teaching or correlation connected to the physical punishment. Most of these individuals express that although they will use physical punishment they will not do it to the extent their parents did; and those that use it state they feel their child understands why they are being punished.
One of the researchers and lead author of the report, Joan Durrant a Child Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Family Studies at the University of Manitoba, cited the issue in the U.S. of physical punishment being an integral part of the culture, a rare instance when an individual was raised without it, which makes it second nature to use physical punishment and feels out of the norm to raise a child without it, Fox News Health, 2.7.2012.
She also discerned that a big component of this style of parenting is that parents may be unaware of basic child development and may then inaccurately assess their child as being defiant or intentionally bad rather than simply acting in various ways that are consistent with normal child development, (Fox News Health, 2.7.2012).
According to an article in (Time, 2.6.2012) about this specific study Durrant reports the most effective way to assist your children is through educating them about what they are doing that isn’t acceptable or appropriate she used the following example:
A young toddler who upends her cereal bowl on her head probably isn’t being ornery; she’s just curious to see what will happen. Durrant likes to use her son as an example. When he was 3, he dropped his dad’s toothbrush into the toilet. Another parent might have yelled, but Durrant’s academic background helped her realize that he was just experimenting: he dropped objects into water floating in sinks and bathtubs with nary a scolding; why not toilets too? “I explained what goes into toilets and then said, Do you think Daddy is going to want to put that toothbrush in his mouth now?” Message transmitted with no yelling. (or spanking – my addition).
She is talking about Mindfulness. Mindfulness incorporates an understanding about your child’s temperament and child development. Recognizing the basic nature of children is curiosity and exploring their environment, that children are dealing with power issues and trying to understand how things work in relationship and in their environment, and they go through a spiraling developmental system where they have skills that then get reworked and lost as they develop their gross motor activities, fine motor activities and their inner cognitive systems, learning through modeling from the world around them, (Gesell Institute of Child Development, Ames and Ilg, 1979; Erik Erikson, Childhood and Society, 1960)
This study is good news for those of us who have been disciplining through mindfulness and dovetails very closely with the information presented in my book, Turning NO to ON: The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness (8.14.2011).
It supports the instinctive sense that discipline is a function of knowing, understanding and teaching your child. Durrant states in the article ” Effective discipline rests on clear and appropriate expectations, effectively communicated within a trusting relationship and a safe environment”, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p4).
Discipline is an equation of knowing and understanding your child’s temperament and developmental stage + knowing and understanding his emotional and intellectual capacity + knowing and understanding your own temperament and emotional capacity + guiding toward a recognized set of goals + and knowing what you are trying to teach, when. It is most effective when mindfulness is applied to this multi-faceted equation to get the most effective long-term results.
Reactivity can create problems with this equation in parenting and if your history is that you were spanked or hit as a child then you will have a reactivity to do just that.
In reality if you hit or spank a child to stop their behavior you will stop it for that immediate moment, but you are probably not teaching them what you think you are.
You may think you are teaching them to control themselves, think things through or have good manners but you are modeling something completely different.
You are modeling the opposite – not thinking things through not controlling yourself.
In fact you are modeling that hitting is a solution. That hitting is a way to get control over another person. That people in power can make others do things. I know for many parents that sounds reasonable but if you just look at the long-term effects you can see how this is creating an environment for aggressive behavior, bullying and in some instances domestic violence among adults, low-self esteem and a lack of an internal locus of control – knowing what is right from an inner understanding cognitively with an ability to direct ones own course in life.
The article clarified information that children who are spanked may feel depressed and devalued, and their sense of self-worth can suffer… and physical punishment is a risk factor for child aggression and antisocial behavior, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2). It also identified studies which show researchers have found that physical punishment is linked to slower cognitive development and adversely affects academic achievement, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2). Through their analysis of previous studies, other links identified show up later in life: mental – health problems including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, these may be mediated by disruptions of the parent-child attachment resulted from pain inflicted by the caregiver, by increased levels of cortisol, or by chemical disruption of the brain’s mechanism for regulating stress, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p2).
To avoid some of these devastating side-effects to spanking it seems wiser to utilize more effective ways to discipline that don’t promote the development of aggressive behavior, wreak self-esteem, and encourage antisocial behavior.
The most effective way to discipline is to utilize positive techniques of teaching and guiding. The use of time-outs as a way of teaching your child to think through situations and communicate his needs and to help diffuse a negative situation, loss of privileges as a way of teaching connections, and increasing your communication with your child so that you can understand and guide him are all ways to discipline in a positive and educational way.
Mindfulness is a tool that you can use to structure your parenting to assist you and your child. Remember to focus on how to be responsive rather than reactive and to identify the whole of what is going on to assist your child in developing self-control, thinking skills, and proper acceptable behavior.
Durant and Ensom identify as a Key Point in the article “A professional consensus is emerging that parents should be supported in learning non-violent, effective approaches to discipline”, (Durrant & Ensom, 2012, p1).
You can check out the information presented here through the sites identified in the article or the references below.
See you tomorrow.
Ames, Louise Bates & Ilg, Francis L.; Your Five-Year Old, Sunny ans Serene. New York City, New York: Dell Publishing Group: 1979.
Durrant, Joan and Ensom, Ron; Physical punishment of children: lessons from 20 years of research, CMAJ; cmaj .101314 v1; published ahead of print February 6, 2012, doi:10.1503/cmaj.101314 v1.
Erikson, Erik H.; Childhood and Society, Second Edition. New York City, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, inc: 1963.
Gineris, Beth; Turning NO to ON: The Art of Parenting with Mindfulness. Charleston, South Carolina: CreateSpace Printing: 2011.