August 25, 2011

Unconditional Parenting and Why it Works for us

So T's only 1. We don't do a lot of discipline.

When he was very young we read the book Unconditional Parenting and were intrigued. My sister (with a 4 and 2 year old) read it as well. In his examples we both saw ourselves.

I remember being very confused and lacking trust in my parents as a small child. I used to get in trouble all the time for things I didn't think I could help and things I didn't know were wrong when I did them. They used to yell at us and ask questions that I truly didn't know the answers to.

My parents did the best they could and followed the examples they had, but I wanted to avoid this with my son.

I was a BAD kid. Or I thought I was. I realize now (through therapy and being an adult), I sometimes just didn't get what I needed so I acted out.

Unconditional Parenting talks about a lot, but there are a couple things that struck us and that seem to work.

1) If you don't want your kid to play, explore, touch and possibly break something. Get it out of his way.

We have to remind ourselves of this all the time, but it really makes our lives much easier, our home life really pleasant, and T feels free to explore his surroundings. We had to move our floor lamps so he wouldn't knock them over, sell our white furniture, and we spend a LOT of time putting books back on shelves. This way, when we say NO because something is dangerous - he actually listens.

2) Help your child come up with their own solution to problems by asking questions.

This has JUST started working with T. Last night, Bubbs was home alone with T and T started whining and fussing. Bubbs looked at him and said, "I can't understand your whining, show me what you want." This is instead of what our Pediatrician (ugh) says to do, which is ignore him and he'll stop. T grabbed his dad's finger, and dragged him to the door. T said "Kiki" - which clearly means he wants to go upstairs to see the cats.

One night we were babysitting my sister's oldest who was 3 1/2 at the time. Her mom forgot to pack her princess pajama pants and she was in meltdown mode. She refused to go to sleep without them and was screaming. We kept trying to offer her different things to wear and telling her there was nothing we could do...but then Bubbs remembered Unconditional Parenting and asked a question, "What would make it better for you?" She replied, "wear my clothes to bed."

Done - we didn't care if she wore her clothes to bed.

When I shared these ideas with my parents, they sort of brushed them off. They both are very respectful of my sister and I in parenting, but can get defensive or a little judgmental if they think we are being too weak. I admit I jumped when they said jump, but not because I respected them, but because I was afraid of them. Which DID NOT serve me well as a teenager b/c I realized they had no actual authority - so I rebelled without worry.

My mom recently read the book and admitted she was swayed by the research and stories as well. And my dad finally admitted on his last visit, that the parents he judged for being to "easy" on their kids, ended up with great respectful well behaved children.

The most important thing we took from that book was that short term results that make life easier as a parent now, do not always equal long term success. This is something Bubbs and I have to remind ourselves of regularly.

It is So hard not to judge other parents. I rarely speak out on things I disagree with when it comes to parenting - I know I've been judged for re-directing T in playgroups rather than shaming him for "misbehaving" but I realize that the embarrassment I feel when I'm getting stared down by other parents at the park and the lack of sleep and clean up we do, will hopefully help T become a well adjusted adult with critical thinking skills and a love for learning.

1 comment:

  1. I am reading this book right now and love it. I hope you post more about it, because I am very curious to see how it works IRL (I don't know anyone personally who does it).

    Glad to hear it works for you so far.