Attachment parenting, Parenting

On peace and parenting

19 December, 2012

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.peaceful parenting

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.peaceful parenting

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:

Praise and reward – the poisoned carrot

Gentle Discipline Toolbox

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?

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  • Jen aka The Mad House 19 December, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    hmmmmmm how would you deal with your child constantly hitting and biting another child. When Maxi was small we went to a toddler group with a lady who only believed in positive parenting. She refused to tell her child to stop or discipline him for doing it.

    • Lucy 19 December, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      Hi Jen – I included a link to Ten Tips for Hitting as I think this is an area that DOES cause a lot of angst for both the parents of hitter and hittee! It would be SO frustrating observing a parent doing nothing when it is your kid being hit. As the article I linked to shows, the positive parenting methods isn’t to ignore- in fact the opposite. If your child is in that vibe you need to be right on top of them, supervising them, or remove them from situations that generate their desire to hit. It is always only a stage, and how much more effective to model a gentle response to a violent act (loads, I reckon!) But totally hear how awful it would have been to observe someone doing nothing.

  • Anna 19 December, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    I reckon my sticker might say Peaceful-ish Parenting (But Must Try Harder). I so want to be a peaceful and understanding parent but find too little sleep and too many toddler tantrums leave me being too shouty and too bossy too often. And I do find I over think what other people will make of my parenting, and sometimes parent for others instead of my children! How silly that sounds when written down.
    New year’s resolution: Must try harder at the peaceful parenting!

    • Lucy 19 December, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      Oh I LOVE your honesty, it’s all through your blog too. I do think it is always just about trying though, we do all really mess it up sometimes!

  • Jane Chelliah 19 December, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    What lovely children. I must say that my parenting wasn’t always peaceful. Sometimes there is a fine line between ‘peaceful’ parenting and ‘giving in’ parenting for a quiet life. If ‘peaceful’ parenting didn’t work with discipline then I would, still do, resort to a stern spoken word.

    • Lucy 19 December, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      I love Naomi Aldort’s advice to step back and figure out where our anger/ annoyance is coming from, as so often it is about our often fears, poorly based expectations etc, sometimes when we figure that out we shouldn’t be afraid of changing our minds. On the other hand, on the important safety stuff I think it’s really important to guide our children and make boundaries clear. We only have a few though! : )

  • lally young 21 December, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Bringing up three is hard at times, but when I stand back at look at them and DH strokes my bump, I know I am totally blessed. My twin doesnt have any kids and I think it is sad, as she is missing out. Yes at times they can be a nightmare to live with. And sometimes I think I live in a zoo, but other times I am so happy, they are mini humans with wants and needs just like us. But they dont know how to ask sometimes, so they stomp, demand, scream and shout.
    I do give them indpendence as you cannot tell them what to do when they are teenagers. But Willow I dont know is different, she is always by my side like a mini me.
    Yes there are some boundries but with my two sons these have gone out of the window!!! but they do know right from wrong and what lines to cross and not to cross/

    • Lucy 23 December, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      I reckon a zoo would be an AWESOME, fun, jolly place to live 😀
      I think the boundaries thing is an interesting one, how much is our talk of boundaries really about “control”… I am not sure. I know that I want Ramona to feel safe and secure and trustful, but I also want her intuition and heart to lead her.

  • Louisa 28 June, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    So glad I found this. My son is becoming more interested in the world and more independent by the day. I often find myself thinking how can help him and how best to communicate with him. I also agree that ‘peaceful parenting’ takes training. This is a goal of mine, peaceful parenting and a peaceful home! But of course not quiet 🙂