Is Conscious Parenting Really Effective?Jul 30, 2021
I was on the phone with a client the other night and she said she was beginning to wonder if conscious parenting is really effective. And then she wondered aloud:
“What do we mean by effective when it comes to parenting?”
THIS is the question.
If you’re like most parents, you want your kid to be “well-behaved” (whether you call it that or something else).
You want other things for your kid, too, of course. You want them to be Kind:
These are long-game qualities. These are qualities that take years to develop.
Sure, your child might be innately very kind. She may have times when she is uncannily self-aware for her age.
But the truth is, these ways of being in the world take time.
Cultivating these qualities also requires you, the parent, to recognize that your kid is not “doing it on purpose to make you mad” and to have the emotional wherewithal to ride the emotional wave with your child, all the way to the end.
Which one feels better:
Yelling at your child to calm down and be more respectful when he is losing it in the grocery store aisle?
Sitting with him and telling him gently, “I know…it’s super disappointing that you can’t have that sugary cereal. You didn’t like it that I told you ‘no.’ It’s my job to make sure your body is healthy, so sometimes I have to say no to foods with too much sugar in them. I know it’s hard to feel disappointed like this”
Yes, the second one might “take longer,” but I promise you, it will also be more “effective” in the long run.
And yet, we tend to judge the “effectiveness” of a parenting approach of strategy on how quickly it stops a behavior we do not like right now.
Yes, of course we need ways to keep our kids from pummeling each other all day. We need tools for controlling the chaos.
BUT it’s a mistake to measure the effectiveness of your parenting solely on whether it stops a behavior or gets your kid to “listen” (ahem…remember, that’s just code for “obey” – and I’ve never seen “obedient” on a list of What Kind of Person I Want to Raise) right now.
Childhood is messy. Children are growing and developing and learning what it’s like to feel emotions they’ve never experienced before. There is a LOT of trial and error (for them and for us).
It’s not our job to make them “be good” or even “feel good.” It IS our job to help them navigate the scary, disappointing, exciting, infuriating, sad, happy, joyful, crazy experiences of their young life, so that they can grow into respectful, self-aware, curious, self-sufficient, confident adults.
THAT is how you know your parenting is “effective.”
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