Over the past few weeks I have been thinking a lot about the primary principles of parenting that I and so many others embrace. As I read blogs and articles written by various experts and bloggers and mothers, I am struck by a commonality of underlying assumptions that is moving the parenting world forward. The collective voice is growing. I believe that it has always been there, but the voice is gaining strength and momentum and courage, and it is impacting the lives of children in an amazing way. We are moving away from viewing children as merely an extension of ourselves to be controlled and molded, toward an understanding that children are in fact people in their own right. As our consciousness shifts, our parenting truths shift. Here are my top ten principles in no particular order:
• Practice gentle communication with our children.
• Be truly present in our interactions with our children.
• Build deep and enduring connections with our children.
• Respect the person each child is in their own right.
• Support and validate children’s experiences, thoughts and emotions.
• Encourage the personal growth and development of our children.
• Create a safe and nurturing environment in which our children can thrive.
• Understand that parenting matters. What we do and say has real impact on our children.
• Learn from our children. Relationships are reciprocal.
• Trust our children to be exactly where they should be in life.
As I read over my tenets, I replaced the word “child” with husband, partner, friend, employer, neighbor, stranger. And it hit me. Perhaps gentle parenting really is a bridge to a gentler world. I know when I am practicing these principles with my kids, I feel better inside. Softer, kinder, relaxed, connected. My relationship with my children is fuller and more rewarding. I see a difference in them and I see a difference in myself. I hear the same thing over and over again from other parents. And so I wonder, Why am I limiting my practice and awareness of these ideas to my children?
I am struck by the realization that as we practice these types of interactions with our children, not only are our children more likely to engage with others in the same fashion, but WE are more likely to engage with others in the same fashion! Imagine it: A whole family, community, region, world where people approach each other in the same way we are striving to approach our children! That is the world I want my boys to live in. That is the world I want all our children to live in.
The Center for Non-Violent Communication lists as one of their visions a world in which “people joyfully and compassionately contribute to each other and resolve conflicts peacefully.”
Joyfully and compassionately contribute to each other. Let’s do that.