I have been ruminating a little on peace, it is a good time of year for that kind of business. I feel like there is this one point in the year where this word and this concept tugs at our vision, fills us with a sense of potential for the world. That at Christmas, we all begin to think the world could one day replace all its violence with love.
Now that Ramona is two, the principles of attachment parenting have moved into the background. We still cosleep- but so do many harassed parents out of necessity we still breastfeed- but it is much less visible, we still babywear – but she would rather scoot! Instead, I find it is my communication with her, and the way we “discipline” her, that is defining our parenting differences.
If our parenting style was to turn up at a conference today and be presented with a sticky label and asked to scribble its name down and press it upon its shirt it would probably proclaim “peaceful parenting.” (And would then, as I do, worry about it a little bit- “does having it here draw people’s attention to my boobs? Should I have used a more sensible colour than green? Do caps make me seem aggressive?”)
We try really hard to filter our tone, to take out any aggression, to edit any manipulation. We hold each other to this manipulative bit, as it is ALL to easy to coerce our toddlers though our language. We don’t do punishment, instead embracing the idea that kids are learning so much all the time, that this is all pretty radical and turmoilic for them and that when something happens to upset us we are all best served by taking a step back, thinking it though and then responding lovingly and with understanding. We try really had to understand that Ramona is developmentally able of SO much, but also so little – we really monitor the expectations we have for her. We opt for playing, rather than forcing. We try to do things at her pace, rather than ours. We avoid praise, and reward schemes.
Of course, this is what we TRY and we fail all the time! And there are some big areas we need to work on including making our home a load more peaceful – to leave anger about the taxi that nearly knocked us over at the door, to transform our talk about people that have annoyed us into something a whole lot more loving. Because I guess a principle of peace needs to transcend just our relationship with our kids.
It does take some training, this parenting. We are so very used to talking to children a certain way, to seeing them as cheeky rule-breakers, to needing to seem in control when out in public. We need to help our minds relearn a more loving and respectful communication with kid and we REALLY need to let go of worries about what other parents will think of our gentle communication. (“Why is she NOT telling her off for throwing that food?!”
But if there is anytime to give it a good crack, surely it is this season, right now, eh? When the world simply brims with peaceful potential. When we can see the huge power of nurturing peace lovers.
One of my favourite Christmas songs is Stevie Wonder’s One Day at Christmas – and Jack Johnson, covers it on one of the best festive albums out there”This Warm December”. The lyrics are BEAUT:
And some day at Christmas, there’ll be no wars
When we have learned what Christmas is for
When we have found out what life is really worth
Then there will be peace on Earth
I love the picture he paints of a real physical kind of peace, not a warm fuzzy peace, but the absolutely absence of violence. It is that tangible peace that I want to mark mine and my children’s relationship, in the hope that it will lead to massive amounts of connection and another peace maker in this warring world.
PS- A few helpful resources I have enjoyed recently include:
10 tips for hitting – responding to your children in that CLASSIC moment where punitive discipline is often called on
What sticky label is your parenting style wandering around with?