Yes, I am suggesting there is a perfect way to parent. Despite all the different parenting styles and the discipline techniques, I firmly believe there is a perfect way to parent. I have not always parenting the best way, but learning this ONE thing, set me on the path to perfect parenting.
It’s no secret I listen to Catholic Radio (EWTN) and my absolute favorite segment to listen to is: More2Life with Dr. Bob and Lisa Popcack (pronounced POP-CHECK). Throughout the week I carve out an hour a day to listen to them talk while I clean up the kitchen (my radio is in my kitchen), and I hear so many phrases that are uplifting and inspiring. I tribute much to this 9am “meeting” with the Popcacks. They help me feel more confident, they help with difficult relationships, and of course strengthen my love for God.
Last Friday was no different. I heard Dr. Popcack say these words [paraphrased], “We tend to make the mistake in thinking that parenting is something we do to our children. It’s not. In fact, it should be considered something we do with our children.” That little phrase prompted me to rethink my role as a parent.
The Problem Child
I’ve discussed with you before about our little kiddo #2. He has second child syndrome to the nth degree. He is stubborn, and emotional. When I say emotional I mean his happiness is extremely happy, his sadness is extremely sad, and when he gets angry…. well it’s not pretty. He is Strong-Willed… in other words, stubborn, because he’s passionate about what he desires. I understand him, because he and I are alike!
We’ve tried a ton of parenting hacks and tips. We have tried reasoning, timeouts, spankings, rewards for good behavior, we’ve tried taking things when he’s making bad choices. As a SpEd teacher, I have always known what needed to be done, but as a group of adults working to get this kid in line we weren’t actually persistent enough…
Anyway, for the past month I have been working on staying calm with this little boy (because you know when I feel out of control I begin to yell). When he throws his tantrums, I either wait for him to finish before talking or, if he can’t seem to calm himself, I get down on his level and and talk real slow. I say what I want from him, what happened that sent him to his room (or insert said consequence), and then I ask him if he needs a hug. I will say it over and over until he has had a chance to hear me when he’s no longer crying. Keep reading so I can show you I’m not being a “softy.”
Raising Kids is Hard!
Raising children to be decent human beings takes mucho effort! I’ll settle for decent kids, but I really want great ones; ones that will WOW the crowd. So in the beginning we’ve been hard on our kids, making them tough, so we can take them out in public without looking like a poorly planned circus act. I still agree in being “hard” on our kids to a certain degree, but I’m not counting that as “perfect parenting” that’s just our style.
This post is not about parenting styles! To each their own, and I’m not judging you for what you feel is best and right for your kids. Perfect parenting does not have anything to do with technique. It’s about your perspective.
Parenting is Not Something You Do to Your Child
I used to look at my role in motherhood as somebody who was supposed to mold the young ones into what I wanted for them. From the moment we knew we were expecting our hopes and dreams for their future took over! I would make them sit well in church as a sign of respect, I would teach them table manners and how to clean up, get dressed, help out, etc. and they would do it exactly as I had planned. I taught them those things, but they do it their own way.
By making plans for them, I had good intentions, but I was separating myself from their world. When our little strong-willed #2 would lay down and weep because he couldn’t get his shoe on, I would tell him to, “Stop that! That’s nothing to cry about! Stop your crying and let’s go!” I gave the direction, so why wasn’t he following orders? In my head I’d think, “I’m trying my best to shape you up, why won’t you just cooperate?”
I stood above my kids as I hollered down to them. My face, looked disgruntled (I know because there’s too many mirrors in our home), and they would come to remember that face and know when to expect it. I treated each one the same because they were all born into this family and we have one way of doing things… Like I mentioned before, I had separated myself from them and expected them to take orders. That was then.
Parenting is something you do with your child.
When I heard the Dr. Popcack say, “Parenting is something do with your child.” I felt disappointed in my actions in the past. I can forgive myself because parenting will always be a work in progress. My hope is that I can make the necessary changes early enough so my kids can remember they loved being around me. Really, I just don’t want them to make my same mistakes.
So what does that phrase even mean? In short, it means you and your children are walking through this life together now. The longer version: You aren’t walking on a higher path while they beg at your feet. There will come a day when you can no longer boss them around. Will you have just taught them rules? or will you have taught them how to live harmoniously?
It helps me to look at my children as coworkers sometimes. A supervisor guides the employees underneath him by respectfully giving advice, answering questions, giving a helping hand, staying calm during a crisis, and much more. If I see my children as my coworkers then I know I can’t motivate them by yelling or barking orders. We are a team and I very much need them to help the day be successful.
For the Older Kids
As our kids get older, this will get tougher, but it is my opinion that “parenting with your children” looks a lot like asking questions and guiding them to better decision making. Don’t be so quick to give your advice. Try it out and you’ll see you’ll start raising a more confident child.
Parenting with your children instead of parenting at them is indeed perfect parenting. It matters very little about what technique you use or what style you prefer. Perfect Parenting comes when you and your children walk together in life, you’re still leading the troops, but you’re staying together in battle.
More of the Popcacks’ Wisdom
Below are a few books written by the Popcacks. Plenty of great advice. Even though they’re Catholic authors, I encourage all Christians to read, because behind the Catholicism is strong advice.
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