Thursday, May 17, 2012

What Derails my Peaceful Parenting

Lately, Gumby and I seem to clash ... so much more than we used to.  I suppose it has something to do with all of the development that is happening with a three and a half year old and the adjustment to having a new member of the family.  But, it also has something to do with my response to her.  Sometimes, my responses are not what I want them to be and are also probably not what Gumby is expecting of me.  I have become aware of a few things that derail me from my peaceful parenting track.  I hope to use this awareness to pause, see that my responses are not coming from the heart but from these other issues which are my own, acknowledge them and get back on track.

1.Expectations & Controlling Outcomes
I can get so caught up in expectations that I forget parenting is about the journey and the relationships we are cultivating along the way.  As my energy goes towards controlling a certain expectation or outcome that I have perceived as important or correct in my own mind, I find myself wrapped up in that control, in a battle, which makes me angry.  The more my focus turns towards these outcomes and away from Gumby, the more it seems like I am struggling against a tide of increasing strength.  Except I am the one giving it strength.  And, Gumby isn't struggling against me, she's simply struggling.  She's asking for my help because the tide is sweeping her away.  When I let go of my expectations and understand that I cannot (nor do I need to) control outcomes, I am more able to focus on Gumby's needs and how I can help this situation in this present moment.

2. Minimizing Feelings
I know that it is not beneficial to minimize feelings.  Gumby's feelings are important, real and often times for her very strong.  It is a challenge for me to empathize when I interpret her feelings as exaggerated or silly.  Duck poo around the pond, bright sunlight and unpleasant smells may not be unbearable for me, an adult with a fully mature and (mostly) regulated system, but for a little one with an immature brain and not fully regulated system, these things can be a real bother.  When my mind dubs a catalyst to Gumby's feelings as insignificant, I struggle to respond in the nurturing way that Gumby needs.  What I strive to remember is that these things are big to her and she needs a hand  when things are feeling out of control for her.  She would not ask for something if she did not need it.

3. Privilege
Thoughts of my own privilege can provoke irritation, anger and a shortage of patience.  I cannot empathize or empower Gumby when I am viewing what I "deserve" as being at odds with Gumby's needs and feelings. Framing my needs as a privilege that I deserve invites a conflict that I am loosing, that I must fight to win.  While it is important to acknowledge my own needs and feelings, I want to act in a way that works to meet every one's needs as best as possible.

4.Thinking I Do Not Have a Choice
When I find myself thinking I have no choice in a situation, I feel helpless, entrapped and act with annoyance at best.  I do not have to play, pick up, carry, nurse or anything.  I must remember that I choose to do these things because they are important.  And, if I need a rest, then I need to acknowledge that as well.  It does not model self limits and respect to Gumby if I sigh or roll my eyes while fulfilling a request of hers.  I must remember that everything is a choice, my choice.  It makes me happy knowing that I do have a choice which enables me to interact and respond from a place of peace.

Tonight at bedtime, all four of these things crept into my mind.  But I was ready for them.  Laying in bed trying to help a little one sleep when it takes long has always been a challenge to me... Because I want to control the outcome (she should be asleep by now) ... I inadvertanly minimize her feelings anad needs (This is ridiculous, just go to sleep) ... I stew about what I deserve to be doing instead (I've laid here long enough, go to sleep so I can shower, clean, watch shows, blog, cuddle with my husband, etc) ... and I think I have to lay there.  But, I didn't.  I didn't have to lay there.  And, I didn't have to control the outcome.  She's never stayed up forever before, surely, tonight would not be any different.  Her inability to settle in to bed tonight was not ridiculous to her, otherwise, she would have been asleep!  Yes, I had things I wanted to do.  But, most of all, I wanted to act out of compassion to meet my daughters needs.  And, I did.

What things sneak up on you to derail your peaceful parenting?
How does identifying them help you get back on track?


  1. Yes to all of these! I struggle with the same issues. I struggle with the idea that my child's behavior is always a reflection of me and my parenting and I get way too tripped up on labels. Oh, she's having a tantrum? I'm a bad mom. In truth, I'm not a bad mom and she's not a bad kid. And I do each of them a disservice when I make their behavior all about me, but it's what I frequently do. I have to remind myself that taking all the blame when they're "bad" is just as harmful as taking all the credit when they're "good."

    When I need to get back on track, which is frequently, I try to think of the overall goal. What do I want for my children? I want them to have self-worth. I want them to be content. I want them to experience joy. I don't want them to struggle, as I have, to know what they want because they've grown so accustomed to tuning their inner voice out in order to hear what other people want for or from them.