Parenting is a constant journey. I believe it is full of constant learning and teaching for both our children and ourselves. We may be first and foremost the teachers of our children but I believe we also learn from them. Recently I’ve learned a lot from my two year old daughter.
Since the dynamic of our family has changed from three to four with the addition of our son, I’ve noticed a lot about my daughter’s personality. She is the child who tends to use her toys in ways that they “were not made for”. I constantly see her reconstructing things to create the type of “play” she wants. I’ll be honest with you, this has bugged me. Yes, I just admitted what most would consider an “epic parenting fail”. However, this all came crashing at me when I lost it one day and found myself yelling at my daughter. I quickly was ashamed, defeated and the guilt cut me like a knife. And I couldn’t imagine what I just put her through.
I’m a very straight lined person when it comes to some things. I like things in a certain order. I’m very picky about how things look. I know what most are thinking right now. “Why on earth did you have children, then?” Trust me when I say that I knew going into this journey that this would be something I would internally battle with. I’ll also admit that I found myself constantly “on-top” of my daughter. “No thank you, we don’t use that for that.” “Please put that back correctly.” You get the idea. This especially has become more of a “control” factor after our son was recently born because now I’m keeping up with two. Then I realized how much I didn’t like how I was “controlling” my daughter. I truly took a step back from the mirror. There were meltdowns, yelling matches, etc., all stemmed from her frustration of not being “encouraged” but “controlled”. I was making her be someone she isn’t.
Now some might argue that at a young age I should be molding my children. We can all go back and forth about how we parent but this is just something I am sharing from my own personal convictions. Yes, I want to teach my children to be tidy, not to destroy things, to listen … all of those great morals in life. However, I never want my children to fear me or feel like they could never keep up with the bar I’ve set that may not be reachable for their personality. That is why I state “encouragement vs. control”. I want to encourage my daughter to succeed and to always strive to be her best. That is where the letting go of the control comes in. Encourage her to be HER best, not mine. I am vowing to no longer enforce the straight lines upon her. Manors will be instructed but control of personality and spirit will not. I am beginning to encourage rather than control.
How am I doing this? I have been follow a couple of different women in their parenting suggestions. I personally adore www.positiveparentingsolutions.com and Amy McCready’s way of using “When and Then” method. Basically, instead of telling my daughter that if she doesn’t “do this”, “this” will happen, I am giving her no choices in the matter by telling her that “when she does this”, “then she can do this”. For example, if she wants a snack during the day and toys are sprung through the home, I tell her, “When the crayons are all picked up, then we can have a snack”. I’ve noticed positive impact with her strong will that she immediately picks up the crayons because she understands there is order to how things are to be done. However, I’ve given her the power to do these things without giving her the question that she can’t do them.
Another “parenting mentor”, if you will, I look up to is Janis from www.onpurposewithjanis.com. Her book covers many things that have began to put “peace” back into our home lives. It is a work-book that will take you through her steps to free yourself from grief and frustration. I appreciated it because it gave me a chance to really get to the core of why I parent as I do and make changes that needed to be made for a positive impact on my family.
These two tools have been a large help in changing the way both myself and my husband parent. We’re taking a gentler approach that isn’t changing the respect we want to instill in our children but it’s also showing them the respect they also deserve. I truly am thankful for friends who have supported us in this journey and these references to bring the tools needed to make it.