I stared at the dimmed screen of my phone, looking over my baby’s tiny body. The red notification bubbles drew me in and I set to work accessing them all whilst she completed her job of breastfeeding. In the beginning, I was glued to my feeding chair for an hour at a time, many times a day. It seemed like the ideal time to catch up on my emails, messages, and Facebook notifications. Often, my baby’s eyes were closed so I read whilst she fed – perfect!
Only, over time, I began realising that there was so much I was missing out on; so much SHE was missing out on. Although we had an intimately physical connection in those moments, mentally, we were out of sync. I was not supporting her as her caregiver. I was merely providing the food and inviting her to help herself. Continue reading
She sobbed heaving sobs into my chest as I wrapped my arms around her. Her strong emotions spilled out as her tears soaked my shirt. I held her for the longest time; saying nothing, just listening and holding space for her to communicate to me her inner-most thoughts through her upset.
A thought flashed through my mind in that moment about how much I love it when my children have a meltdown. I didn’t always but I have learned over the years that so much good can come from them if I am accepting of the feelings that surface and hear the messages in their screams.
I was recently in a discussion with a mother who wanted to help her husband understand and adopt a respectful approach to parenting as she had done. His parenting style and hers were in conflict and it was causing some tension in their relationship and confusion for the children. It’s not the first time I’ve had this conversation with a parent and from reading through respectful parenting forums, I have seen that struggling with different parenting styles is an extremely common issue.
It got me thinking about how my husband and I work through our parenting differences whilst still ensuring our children are raised with respect. The move towards respectful parenting following Magda Gerber’s Educaring approach wasn’t an easy or smooth transition for either of us but we have definitely come a long way since bumbling through our early days of parenting.
When I was first introduced to RIE parenting a little over four years ago, I was grateful to have specific advice for raising my then 18mo and 5mo with respect. I read as much as I could, copied out scripts to use in speaking with my children in certain situations and followed what I saw as “the rules” in order to give my children the wonderful, supportive childhood that most of us could only dream of.
It recently occurred to me that with the number of posts I write about the rivalry between my children, it might be easy to conclude that the respectful parenting methods I have adopted to help manage their rivalry over the years have been completely ineffective, otherwise, why would they still rival?
I wasn’t entirely sure how to make this announcement. I have been thinking, does anyone really care the third time around? But with a fairly serious scare on the eve of being on the right side of ‘safe’ this week, I realised that I care!!
I am not just adding a third child to our family. I view this child with the same reverence as I viewed my first and then my second just 13 months later. My excitement and anticipation is equal to what I felt when I discovered I was pregnant with my first. I wonder what gifts he (yes, I have boy vibes for this baby, but of course, will be happy either way) will bring to the world and I can’t wait to watch him grow from birth, confident in his amazing capabilities.
Rage is something many of us have experienced on more than one occasion. It is more than just anger, it normally comes from a feeling of gross injustice; a feeling that boils our blood and we literally feeling like inflicting pain on someone or something in order to satisfy that raw emotion that threatens to undermine our normally level-headed composure.
Children experience the same sense of rage that adults do. In fact, their emotional and social immaturity makes them even more susceptible to experiencing this strong emotion as they lose reasoning and logic in their interactions with others. They come from a self-centred view point and therefore genuinely feel great injustices on an almost daily basis.
When a child is being defiant, it does not indicate that they are bad nor is it a sign of poor parenting. It is a completely normal and natural urge for a child to want to assert their autonomy. Doing the opposite of what they have been asked to do is the perfect way for them to take control of their independence. Resisting our requests is a part of a child’s development, the same way that learning to walk and talk is. Punishing them for wanting to do this, therefore, is like punishing them for existing. Instead, it is important for us to show acceptance; not of the behaviour, but of the child.