I remember walking under December grey Berkeley skies with Dan 3 years ago, shakily pep-talking ourselves through the latest parenting trial, which was that Col was moving slower than a brick wall during the bedtime routine.
We gave cheery warnings, “5 minutes until teeth brushing!” We repeated cheery warnings, “2 minutes until…” We gave information, “You’re not listening and I’m feeling very impatient now.” We shamed, “Rose is already done with teethbrushing, in pj’s and ready for a book. We are all waiting for you.” We threatened, “if you don’t get in here to brush your teeth now, you will miss out on book reading.” And finally, we yelled.
Eventually everyone was tucked in bed and ready for sleep, but my feelings of regret (for having shamed, threatened and yelled) lingered like a bad hangover.
Walking to Peets Coffee (Vine St.), I told Dan about this parenting style I had been reading about, this er, parenting with empathy, or peaceful parenting, or parenting without yelling like a banshee, or…something, where if your kid is non-compliant about teethbrushing you swoop them up playfully and carry them to the bathroom while tickling them. It’s about building connection, discharging power struggles and letting the kid save face for the sake of unity, and please could we start trying this?
Dan caught on quicker than I did because apparently nursing small grudges about non-compliant children is my particular anvil to drag across the desert, whereas he wipes the slate clean every minute.
But here’s the thing. Three years later I can say that parenting without bribes, threats or rewards is its own positive feedback loop. Even if you start with practicing your lines of empathy (you don’t want to brush teeth, you hate teeth-brushing) like an actor desperate for work, it becomes natural. And receiving compliance through kindness and respect always feels better, even if doesn’t seem as effective at first as the swift sword of a threat. But it is.
If I write here about peaceful parenting, people often say, “I can’t do it…working mother…challenging kid…won’t listen to me…too hard…just naturally a yeller…” And I just want to say that with practice, encouragement, intention and well, more practice, encouragement and intention…peaceful parenting becomes your first language so that when you wake up to situations like this (she turned in the empty wrapper and collected the reward, people) you know instinctively how to work with situation while keeping everyone’s dignity in tact.
Natalie and Nathan are offering another round of their popular 6-week e-course called, Parenting on the Same Team. If you don’t know these two through their coaching work, blogs or toy business,, allow me to introduce them:
She speaks the same language as Alfie Kohn, who wrote Unconditional Parenting (a parenting game-changer for me), but in a softer, feminine, more “I hear you sister,” way. I’ve become best acquainted with Natalie’s work through her parenting phone consults, in which she’s helped me numerous times (including, but not limited to The Funky Sock Disasters and The Sibling Battlefield). Natalie is fantastic at suggesting a pathway which illuminates my own blind spots and leads me to the sanest, most effective and compassionate trail through the trees of parenting.
With Nathan, who is a Certified Life Coach, they are raising three daughters, inspiring people and spreading the good word.
The Awesomeness of this E-Course (all the details here):
* you can take it alone or with your partner.
* Natalie and Nathan will present ideas and parenting strategies weekly (over 6 weeks) and you will have the opportunity to discuss, inquire more deeply, receive feedback and seek help transposing these ideas into your particular family situation.
* you can participate as much or as little as you want.
* you can participate from wherever you live, at your own pace.
*Natalie and Nathan will be available for unlimited e-mail support during the 6-week course.
*you will learn and grow.
Dan and I took this course 2 years ago and loved:
*the momentum of practicing (and practicing, and practicing) your parenting ideals in a community.
*the homework which provides opportunity to catch old patterns and practice new ones.
*Natalie and Nathan’s availability, deep listening and idea-generating for each participant’s particular situation.
*how in learning to treat your children with empathy, you learn to do the same for yourself.
To win a spot in the upcoming E-Course, Parenting on the Same Team, leave a comment below. For an extra chance to win, share this post on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or your community and leave a second comment.
Giveaway ends Monday 4/08/13 * I will announce the winner here.
Guys, Natalie and Nathan are touched by all the heartfelt interest here and have decided to pick 5 winners! Please e-mail Natalie: natalie(at)feeleez(dot)com asap and she’ll get you signed up.
#11 Andrea (mother byrd)
#14 Mindi Clark
The course starts today! And for everyone else, there is still time to give yourself the gift of participation. Go here to sign up.
* In 2011 The New Yorker published a lovely article on coaching, written by the surgeon/author Atul Gawande. Gawande explores the benefits of employing a professional coach. The results (for teachers, doctors, musicians, singers, athletes) are impressive. Why not parenting?