Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 266: Inspiration and Direction

I was inspired by this today. I'm inspired every day. Usually by lots of things. And whether it's because I'm easily inspired or because I'm constantly seeking out inspiration I haven't decided yet. Either way, I felt nudged in a specific direction not only on my parenting journey, but for upcoming posts.

This is what really stood out:
"CONNECTION. EXAMPLE. TEACHING. RESPECT. EMPATHY. LOVE. These are your best parenting tools."

Indeed. Well, as I hug it out, I'm practicing love. And this led me to think about specific ways I can move toward the others. So I thought I'd post a series on these tools; what they mean to me, how I can practice them, and what that looks and feels like in the everyday.

I'm hoping to be very specific, very practical, and very intentional with this exercise. Because hopefully that will translate into not only helping myself break through old habits and defaults, but possibly being able to offer something useful for those of you joining me in the quest to find a new and better way to relate to our children.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 260: Hug It Out

First, I've got to say that with the new look and feel of the blog, it's a place I actually enjoy coming to. It kinda lifts me up. Whoa. I hope you feel the same way! Anyway, moving on to more important things...

Instead of moving away from the negative, I'm focusing on moving toward the positive. But what exactly does that look like? Because we can talk philosophy and theory all day (trust me, it's my specialty), but if it's not showing itself in application, it's completely useless.

I have to admit, I hadn't realized how few positive alternatives I had really identified for myself until I started really consciously looking at them. No wonder it's been so hard to kick old habits!

It's the reason so many parents resort to coercive, authoritarian, even abusive discipline: If I don't yell, spank, shame, threaten, reward...what do I do?

When you can't answer that question you're forced to choose between domination and subservience. You can be the authoritarian parent focused on harnessing control or the permissive parent who relinquishes all control, nothing in between.

But that's all a lie.

There's another option that doesn't require me or my child to feel controlled or powerless, one that protects my sense of self, my power and his, and allows us both to feel respected and satisfied.

I hate to oversimplify it, because again, in practice it's anything but simple. But it really all comes down to this: Love.

That's it. Love.

You're thinking, Yeah, well, we all love our children. And you're right. But we don't always love them well.

Too many times I've had to remind Jackson that my love for him abides even through my anger, impatience, rudeness and lack of presence. And I'm also quick to assure him that it abides through his tough times too.

But what if I didn't have to remind him. What if I showed him? Every time. No matter how I feel. No matter how he acts. What if I loved him well every time?

When he feels loved above all else, I see cooperation ooze out of him like he can't contain it. When he's loved well, he's more excited about compromises than about getting what only he wants. When we're connected, his greatest joy is my greatest joy and vice verse.

When he is loved well, he loves well. 

So that has been my mission. To love him well. And in practice for me, that means hugging it out.

When I'm so busy he starts to feel like an inconvenience, I hug it out. When I feel like manipulating and coercing to get him to fall in line, I hug it out. Every time I want to scream and yell, I hug it out.

At first it felt really strange, almost inauthentic. But once I gave myself over to it - deciding with my whole heart that what I want is to love, not control - I found that it literally melted all those feelings away along with the anger and impatience.

And he melted into me.
It's so simple and so beautiful. And slowly we're rediscovering the connection we've been missing lately and working our way toward the relationship both of us want to have.

We're still far from the goal and I'm, as always, far from perfection. But we're moving forward.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 245: Still Here

If I believed in labeling, I'd call myself a bad blogger, neglectful even. But fortunately this project is as much about accepting my own limitations and setting realistic expectations as it is anything else. So to answer your question, yes, I'm still here.

A peaceful home for us right now requires me to focus my energy elsewhere, despite the fact that this is still where my passion lies. But I'm happy to report that I'm staying present with the spirit of the project, thinking almost daily, "I wish I had time to write about that!" Someday when time allows, I'm excited to catch the blog up with all the great things I'm discovering as I walk through life alongside my boys.

If you're wondering about the dramatically different look of the blog, the reasoning was simple. This project is supposed to be about optimism, lifting myself and others up, seeing the bright side of life even through the dark days. And, well, the drab background was downright depressing! In searching for a new look I noticed that the things I was naturally drawn to were generally subdued, simple, not very lively. So in the spirit of stretching and growing, I chose something a little out of character. A little energetic. Sparkly even. I hope you like it. I have to say it's growing on me...maybe I have more sparkle in me than I thought!

My next post will be back on topic, so don't run away thinking you'll be forced to discuss my taste in blog backgrounds forever. I've been waiting for weeks to share the simple, powerful act of forward motion that has been revitalizing my relationship with Jackson, so hopefully time will allow sooner than later!