Dec 312013

Parenting is hard. The occasional highs are very well worth the sometimes long steep monotonous path separating them. This section has been particularly steep and unusually long. As a highly self-critical person, I’ve been struggling with what I must be doing wrong. Why won’t they listen? Why won’t they learn this? Why do they repeat this behavior? What am I doing wrong? That’s an awfully egotistical and self-important viewpoint.

I’m reading an excellent book, “Parenting Beyond Belief”, which is a collection of writings from a wide variety of sources. Tonight I read a short article titled “Thoughts on Raising a Curious, Creative, Freethinking Child” by Robert E. Kay, MD. In this short list of 15 ideas, Dr. Kay emphasizes the importance of realizing that children are who they are. They are their own best teachers. They will learn when they are ready and receptive. They will learn from your example, not from what you say. They are more likely to cooperate than to obey. Being an adult is often easier than being a child due to the general lack of freedom afforded a child.

This piece offered me some solace. In his words: “You can’t make another human being eat, swallow, pee, poop, think, learn, work, talk, confess, agree, or believe, so don’t even go there. Do yourself and your children the favor of trying to see through their eyes, of trying to understand the reasons behind the resistance.” If it is my job to model behavior and offer experience and exposure to new ideas, rather than directly transfer knowledge and experience, I can do that. I mostly do do that. If the temper tantrums, the angry words, and the spiteful glares are part of the process and not my fault, then maybe we can get through this. Together.

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