By Daisy L. Hall
posted with permission
contact Hall at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I urge you to be at peace with your children. Many parents are at 'war' with their children - constantly fighting over homework, chores, curfew, etc. Such households are characterized by frustrated, yelling parents; and fearful, crying, unhappy children. If you find a need to chastise or punish your children on a daily basis, there is a need for change. Isn't it time to end the conflict? Make a commitment to peaceful parenting and a peaceful household by embracing the concepts outlined here.
To parent in peace:
1. Give some thought to your childhood. Think about what you liked and did not like about your growing up experience. Think about your childhood relationship with your parents.
Why is this important? Because parents will inevitably relive their childhoods through their children. And, whatever unresolved issues you have from childhood, will show up, one way or another, in your relationship with your children - often in very unhealthy ways.
What issues have you carried into adulthood? Do you have unresolved issues with your parents? Do you have issues around control, sexuality, school performance, anger , trust or intimacy? If so, think about how these issues may be affecting your ability to be a good parent. See my article, Do Your Own Therapy.
2. Think about the problems you are having with your children. For each problem, ask yourself, is this really important? Why does this bother me so much? If the child does not change this behavior, will there be serious consequences? Sometimes a problem becomes a power struggle that the parent is unnecessarily determined to win. But, what value is winning if you destroy your relationship with your child? Ongoing conflict carries with it the risk of seriously damaging the parent-child relationship. And with ongoing conflict, there can be no peace.
3. Accept your child as a separate, unique individual, who at times may think and behave very differently from you. Too often parents are threatened by, or uncomfortable with, differences. Conflicts arise when the parent tries to change the way a child thinks or behaves. Ask yourself, "Is this really a problem I should be concerned about?" Or, is it simply the child expressing his or her unique personality?
For example, you feel your child is much too outgoing and constantly warn him to be more cautious about people, not to be so friendly. After you have adequately expressed your concerns, it may be time to let go and accept the child for who he is. Recognizing that we all learn by experience.
4. Think about the expectations you have of your children. Are they realistic? Are they fair? Children are often held to higher expectations than adults - i.e. "You must always tell the truth," when lying by adults is often excepted or overlooked. Children are often punished for breaking a glass, spilling the milk, or losing his jacket; when adults are not. Children are frequently punished for getting a bad grade, but adults are not punished for getting a bad performance evaluation. In regards to school work, the issue should be, whether or not the child did the best he or she could.
5. Respect your children. Just as adults want and need respect, so do children. Respect your children by listening to them, accepting their individuality, accepting that they are not perfect, allowing them to make mistakes, and allowing them to make decisions and have input about things that affect them (as age appropriate). And remember, if you must demand a child's respect, you don't really have it.
6. Contemplate your concept of a "good child." Is a good child one that always does what he or she is told? Never disobeys? Always does the right thing? Always pleases his parents? Think about it. Would you really want a child like that? And how prepared would such a child be to function in our society? Sometimes "disobedience" can be a sign or strength or independence. If parenting was a simple as telling a child once, parents would not be needed. A child needs to be taught, and teaching and training takes time and repetition. If you have to correct your child many times for the same misbehavior, this does not necessarily mean the child is bad or disrespectful. A child is a work in progress, who will need support and guidance for many years.
And remember, there are no perfect children, as there are no perfect parents. You must forgive yourself for the mistakes you make as a parent, and you must forgive your children. A parent will often be required to forgive a child for not being born at the right time, for not being the child you wanted, for not living up to your expectations, for not fulfilling your dreams, and for making mistakes.
7. Have fun together, as a family. Create your own family traditions. Such as, pizza night or movie night once a week. Make cookies, popcorn, or other treats. Work a puzzle, play a board game, read stories together. Sit down with the children and come up with fun things you can do on your "fun night." Children need to have fun and so do you. I recognize that this can be difficult with our busy lives, however, investing time in your children reaps great rewards.
8. Be a loving parent and do the very best you can. This is the best advice anyone can give a parent. If you are doing the very best you can, there is never any reason for guilt. Most parents "love" their children, but "loving" is about how you treat your children. Be loving with your children. Praise them specifically, give them attention when they're doing things right, show them respect as human beings, and tell them you love them - often.
And, if you are getting it right, you will know. Within your household, there will be smiles, there will be laughter, and there will be peace.