It’s so simple isn’t it? This one quote, sums up for all of us, how to go about raising our children. And yet, any of us who are raising kids knows just how illusive this approach is.
Take a minute now, and think about one or two small shifts you could make today, that would be more in line with what Dr. Dreikurs is suggesting.
I remember posting this quote on my fridge when my oldest daughter was three. I used it as my “true north”, to guide my parenting decisions. I remember questioning myself on a daily basis for the first year or two. Was I treating her too much like an adult? Could she understand why I was making some of the decisions I was making? Didn’t she need constant direction from me?
Over time though, I found the deeper meaning of Dreikurs words and realized, at least for me, that he was talking more about adopting an attitude of respect, cooperation, and genuine interest than in applying techniques for raising compliant, well mannered kids. It was about remaining flexible, open-minded and responsive vs. reactive as a parent. It pointed the way towards a dynamic, lively way of being in relationship with the kids, not a static one that demanded only one “right” way of handling a situation or behavior.
His quote also helped me recognize that it was about becoming more aware. More aware of myself in situations that triggered strong emotions – positive or negative and how those emotions influenced the way I handled the situation. More aware of whether I was speaking and behaving in ways that suggested I was talking to a respected peer versus a small child, and more aware of how my actions and words influenced my child and the relationship we were building together. It was easy to see that when I tried to exert force over my daughter, she responded in exactly the same way an adult would. She revolted, through a temper tantrum, tried to push me away. Exactly the kind of reaction I could expect if I tried to overpower my best friend.
When I began to understand the real significance of this quote, it shaped my parenting approach and allowed me to focus more intentionally on the relationship I was building with the kids and not get distracted by pesky behaviors that cropped up from time to time. His words gave me the courage to take responsibility for my thoughts and behaviors, attitudes and beliefs and while I was busy tending to my over-active brain, I found that I interfered less with my kids and that seemed to bring out the best in them.
As I spent more time tending to my own misguided thinking I developed a deep sense of faith in myself and in my kids and the more I internalized his words, the more deeply I felt that faith grow. Faith turned into confidence and confidence allowed me to take risks, think outside the box, turn away from the “tsk-tsks” and hairy eyeballs I received from on-lookers and focus on what was most important to me. And what was most important, was raising children who would one day, make the world a better place as the result of participating in it from the time they could barely reach the counter.
I invite you to take a minute – right now, and think about one or two small shifts you could make today, that would be more in line with what Dr. Dreikurs is suggesting.