Finding a better way to get positive behaviors by acknowledging the real reasons for them. "It Was Never Your Fault"These are some of the most powerful words I use in coaching parents. "It was never your fault," carries a healing message to children that releases them from undeserved guilt. When children are free of guilt, they're learning, listening, and functioning well.
When parents are also freed from guilt, they, too, learn, listen and function well. That's my aim, to help you, as a parent release guilt that you never deserved.
"How does that work?" you might wonder. I offer parents forgiveness because I truly believe you/they have always been doing what you knew how to do. When my kids were young, I made a lot of mistakes. If I'd had a parent coach back then, I would have loved guidance and forgiveness from a trusted professional. I think it would have made all the difference. Now that that ship has sailed, I feel privileged to be able to lead parents through Present Moment Parenting in a way I never was. I feel honored to say, "You did your best. It was never your fault when things didn't go well."
And for kids, it's the same. There's not a child in the world who doesn't want to be in close connection with their parents. After all, parents are their survival, so it makes sense that they would strive to maintain the bond. But their emotional state, undeveloped as it is, prevents them from making the bond stronger. They falter, they have meltdowns, they make their parents feel frustrated and angry.
As the adults, it's our job to realize they never intended this disruption in the closeness with us. They just lacked the brain development to control their outbursts, their refusals, and their nasty words. Once we realize that undeveloped brains is the issue, and not bratty, controlling, impossible kid, we're miles ahead of the game of healing the break between ourselves and our children.
So, what's the first step? Changing our automatic reaction to defiance from one of upset and consequences to one of understanding, calm, and listening to the underlying emotion. When we can do that, our kids feel seen, heard, felt, safe. And from there, we can gain their cooperation.
Recently I heard a quote from a parent that went: "Once I dropped the parent role and focused on strengthening our relationship, everything got better." That to me, is gold.
What do kids need? A loving, accepting, guiding presence. This enables them to learn, follow, and emulate their parents' behavior, especially forgiveness.
If you'd like more information on how parent coaching works, click here. I'd love to help you form that strong, healing bond with your children that reduces defiance, strengthens your relationship, and brings peace to your home.
To read or listen to my book, click here: Present Moment Parenting; The Guide to a Peaceful Life with Your Intense Child.
Being Vulnerable as a Parent
Posted: February 7, 2019
Maybe the last thing you ever thought a parent coach would tell you is “be vulnerable with your child.” You’ve spent your whole adult life making sure your child knew who was boss, working hard to never let him take advantage of you. You thought if you did that, you would lose your authority and never get it back. Who wants to live with a child who thinks he’s the boss of his parents? Wouldn’t being vulnerable give him the wrong idea?
Dr. Brené Brown, a social work researcher, talks about “leaning into the discomfort” in her TED Talk on the power of vulnerability. She was NOT built to accept anything uncertain, and railed at the thought of it, as many of us would. You might ask, “What does leaning into the discomfort mean?”
Dr. Brown also talks about “connection” being the reason we’re all here. And she says that shame is the manifestation of disconnection. Underlying this is “excruciating vulnerability.” To truly connect we need to be vulnerable, she says.
After 6 years of listening to people’s stories on shame, she wrote a book and published a theory, realizing that the people who have a strong sense of belonging believe they’re worthy of it. Our fear that we’re not worthy of connection is what causes disconnection, which leads to shame.
Dr. Brown says that “wholehearted people” live from a deep sense of worthiness and had a “sense of courage” in common. This courage is made up of telling who you are with your whole heart, the courage to be imperfect, compassion for self and others, connection as a result of authenticity, and fully embracing vulnerability. These courageous wholehearteds believe that what makes them vulnerable makes them beautiful. They say it’s necessary to do something where there are no guarantees, i.e. willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. In the words of my dear friend Artem Kuznetsov, this describes “beautiful uncertainty.”
To me there’s nothing more beautiful nor more uncertain than raising a child. Without guarantees of any kind, we rush headlong into the most compelling, uncertain, vulnerable experience of love, usually without a map or compass. And then the children we love so intensely defy us. They develop their own will, they want what they want, and we feel utterly broad-sided after pouring so much of our hearts into their being. Where’s the gratitude? Can’t they tell how much we’ve cared?
Frankly, they can’t. Because they’re children. And it’s completely understandable that parents start to want control, in order to protect themselves from the strong will of their child and the rejection of having your beloved, cherished offspring turn on you.
It’s normal. Almost every parent experiences it, especially those with strong-willed children. So where’s the redemption here? In vulnerability? Well, yes.
Children who attempt to run the show are often bright. They may be intellectually bright, interpersonally gifted, intrapersonally astute, highly creative and sensitive, or all of the above. And some average-ability children also attempt to run the show, depending on their own experiences as babies and toddlers. Whatever the reason, we feel the last thing we should do is become vulnerable with them. But really, it’s important to do this.
How does it look to be vulnerable to your child? It means stepping off the “perfect, all-knowing adult” platform and getting down to your heart with your child. When you do this, he starts to realize that you’re human, too, and a switch flips. He has less to resist when you become less rigid. Now the grace and light-heartedness for which most parents yearn can begin seeping into your relationship. Herein lies the benefit of “leaning in.”
What do the words look like? Instead of saying, “I’m your dad and I mean business” when a child is acting out (usually because of a fear), it’s more heart-centered to say, “I know. I had that fear when I was your age, too. Want me to tell you how I got past it? I used to pretend that the monsters under my bed had five eyes, so many that they couldn’t focus well enough to see me.” Here, the father has become a child again, this time for the purpose of connecting with his child. He’s remembering his child-like self, allowing a little vulnerability, and adding a dash of humor to bring intimacy to the conversation.
Dr. Brown’s mission to “control and predict” led her to the answer that the way to live is with vulnerability.
Letting go of the need to control and predict your child and building emotional intimacy is the hallmark of a strong relationship. You get there by being vulnerable, and you can’t get there without it.
If you would like help with this or any other parenting issue, please click here for information about parent coaching.
If you’re dreaming of becoming a certified parent coach, please click here.