Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mmm, that is some tasty crow!

Recently I got involved in a debate with some moms about parenting methods. It wasn't a knock down, drag out, but there were two clearly opposing "sides." Basically, some moms recommended a book and using approaches based on this book (Honey, I Wrecked The Kids ) and some others objected and resisted and justified why this would never work and wasn't reasonable. I was on the negative side.

In a nutshell, Honey I Wrecked the Kids talks about democratic parenting and shows how different it is from the dictator parenting we are more familiar with. It highlights some of the long term negative effects that can come from a bossier, less fair, more combative family approach and gives parents tools to listen better, understand more, and get connected to their kids, which ultimately makes everyone happier and more cooperative.

I bought this book at least six months ago and it's been sitting in my kobo app, collecting virtual dust. Finally I decided to start reading it. I haven't really been able to stop thinking about it since I opened it two weeks ago. It is life changing for me. And I think for my kids too.

It seems like so much common sense, but obviously it wasn't so common, because I never thought of it before Alyson Schafer pointed it out to me.

I'm far from an expert yet. I still redline every now and then and lose my mind on the boys, but before this book I was doing it daily. Multiple times a day. I was hating being a stay at home mom and at times desperately looked for a job just so I could stop screwing things up. Now I am able to see attention seeking behavior or power struggles for what they really are and stop myself from engaging in that. I'm better at reframing things and finding win win solutions. I'm just having more fun, and I think they are too.

Which is pretty much everything the moms I was arguing with said, but I had all my reasons why I didn't want to agree. I thought it would be too hard - don't I work hard enough already? I thought it was unrealistic - the world doesn't work that way, sometimes you just have to suck it up and do stuff you don't want to. I thought it would make kids more entitled - you can't expect teachers and coaches and bosses to stand on their heads to get cooperation. But the truth is it really isn't a Herculean effort to laugh more, be optimistic, and listen better.

Again, it's not being used here 100% yet, and my kids still have the odd tantrum. No parenting method can take away the pain and frustration of a toddler cutting 8 teeth at once and not having quite enough words to explain how he feels. And as with anything, change is hard. When a preschooler is used to Mom putting up a fight and giving him attention (even if it's angry attention), and suddenly she stops, it's normal to try harder at first. So we've still had some rough days. But I feel much less guilt now and more as though I'm actually shaping them into normal, happy, emotionally healthy humans.

So...I was wrong! So very wrong. And I've never been so happy to admit that.

If, like I did, you struggle with your kids' behavior, if you hate yelling, if you ever feel like nothing works...drink the kool aid. Read this book. Live this book. Your kids will thank you.

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