After my post “To spank, or not to spank” was published on APtly Said, my friend Ingrid and I had a conversation about the challenges of raising kids and how difficult it is at times to discipline them in a positive way — moreover, how hard it is to keep our composure, especially when we are distressed with other matters in our lives. With our voices cracking and our eyes welling up, we each recalled that one time when we betrayed our own conscience, crossed that line and spanked our child. Ingrid said she felt awful and understood she needed to find more constructive ways to deal with her anger.
Our conversation highlighted a notion that I have been pondering for some time. By its very nature, those of us who are insightful and mindful gravitate toward Attachment Parenting (AP) as it fits in with who we are as individuals.
A lack of deep awareness and insight could prevent some parents from appreciating and accepting the AP approach. Attachment Parenting International‘s Eight Principles of Parenting entail that parents have awareness and introspection, which is needed with this gentle and intuitive approach to parenting. In order to respond with sensitivity, provide consistent love and care and practice positive discipline, a parent needs to be able to regulate his or her emotions and actions.
I believe that, as people sharing the same wonderful and challenging experience of being parents, we need to support and help one another. I’m enthusiastic to share words of advice and resources with the parents who approach me with parenting-related questions. Although we may be rowing in different styles and in different directions, all parents are in the same boat — trying to reach the same destination of raising healthy, happy and successful kids. When we model positive discipline and any other of API’s Eight Principles of Parenting, other parents may be inspired and interested in learning more about our parenting approach.
Last week, at school pick-up, I couldn’t find my son. He had gone with his friends outside of the school parameters without my knowledge or permission. I wasn’t sure where he was and who he was with. I was furious with him. When I walked over to the school yard, I found him playing. I called him over, knelt down and explained to him that, as his mother, it’s my job and main responsibility to make sure he is safe. I also told him how upset I was when I didn’t know where he was. When I concluded our conversation, a friend who was standing nearby asked, “How do you do it?”
“Do what?” I asked.
“How do you stay so calm?” she replied. “I would go crazy if my son did that. Do you ever scream and yell, or just lose it?”
I was surprised by her statement, because I didn’t feel calm. I felt as though I had a ball of fire inside me. I responded that I have my moments when I yell, but I don’t like it when I do. Yelling doesn’t produce any positive results, so why continue doing it? I’ve learned there are more effective ways to deal with an uncooperative child.
Parenting is not about perfection, but exploration — finding out what works and what doesn’t, and adjusting accordingly. Acknowledging that we have faulted is not shameful but courageous!
Inherently, to be an attached parent, we need to be in touch with ourselves. When raising our kids with personal awareness and insight, we grow and transform with and from our kids. The inner examination and work is difficult and, at times, can be painful. But the rewards of personal growth and raising happy, content kids who will grow to be positive and productive additions to our society are priceless.