Are You Saying I’m a Bad Parent?

No, I am not. I wouldn’t. It’s not even the way I think about disagreements I have with other parents. I’ve gotten some version of this question over the years I’ve been talking about Peaceful Parenting. Our culture is so binary. Either you’re a Peaceful Parent or you’re a bad parent. Either you do things the way I do or you’re a sh*t parent. That’s one of those titles that I really despise. We’re good at calling each other names, and wow, the names I’ve been called have been creative. What we’re not so great at is bearing with each other. Coming alongside other parents and saying, “I can see that you’re having a hard time. Do you have the bandwidth to hear about an alternative?” Or, simply keeping our mouths shut and being a listening ear when that’s needed.

I write to be a voice for kids, a society challenger, and a peer resource for parents. You may feel convicted by what I post, just like I was when I started reading about Peaceful Parenting, but I am not here to judge you as a person or as a parent. I’m not a fluff piece though. I will debate anyone over the evidence pointing to Peaceful Parenting being the highest quality approach to child rearing, because it’s important to me and it’s a special interest of mine. I don’t intend to harm anyone by appearing dogged in my discussions, but I can be pretty intense. Behind it all is my compassion for kids and for their parents.

Even within the Peaceful Parenting community, we don’t all agree. I’m sure some Peaceful Parents will happen upon my page and cringe at some of the things I say, because I struggle not to give into my authoritarian side. I know that comes through in my anecdotes. I’m ok with it though, because just like all of you, I too am on this journey. I don’t know what’s to come. I’m relying on extensive reading and a lot of prayer myself.

I’m no expert, but I do have a lot of knowledge knocking around in my head. I want everyone to have the tools and resources they need to have the most fulfilling parenting experience they can. That goes for people who always wanted kids, people who never wanted kids but are glad they have them, people who don’t actually want to be parents now that they have kids, people who work with kids, and so on. If you’re coming to my table, I’m going to feed and include you.

When Friday Turns Fractious

Fridays are always difficult in our house. Both of my children begin to give way to the stresses of the week past and, right around 4:00 PM on any given Friday, they crumble. Today was no different. As I attempted to fold mountains of laundry, my children both stopped playing to find me. Right in front of me, Baby Bear (BB) pushed Little Lamb (LL) to the floor with dramatic flourish. She immediately began to scream and wail. BB, having very little sensory tolerance for the sounds of his sister’s cries, ran out of the room and began pushing items from whatever surface he could find right onto the floor. It had happened so fast that I hadn’t had time to intervene. Impossibly, only a few moments had passed and yet parts of the house were already wrecked.

There’s no question how much havoc dysregulated children can wreak in seconds, but what caused this outburst? Well, we had reached the inevitable point of After-School Restraint Collapse, or in this case, After-A-Full-Week-of-School Restraint Collapse. This very real, very difficult phenomenon is the answer to the question of why children can behave so wonderfully in school only to come home and lose control. It’s difficult for us adults to manage a busy schedule and come home to more responsibilities. We don’t always handle it in the best way either. Children, especially small ones, have ever so much less ability to self-regulate than we do. So, when they reach their safe haven, all of that tension bubbles to the surface, and it has to go somewhere.

I soothed LL who had developed the hiccups from crying so intensely and, when she felt better, I let her lounge on my bed so I could go find BB. I had to address his violence toward his baby sister. I brought him back into the bedroom, as he had cooled off in the interim. I asked him if he needed a hug and he did. He began to cry. The stress must have been unbearable. When he stopped crying, I lifted him onto the bed so we could be level and I said to him, “You were really upset early when you pushed sister. You’ve had a long week at school and you needed to push something to feel better, right?”

He began to cry again, but this time, he angrily yanked my glasses off my face and threw them to the ground. I picked them up and put them on and, again, asked if he needed a hug. He did. So, I hugged him tightly for a long while and told him I loved him. When he was relaxed, I pointed to LL and told him that it hurt her when she got pushed to the ground. I asked him how he could help her now that he was feeling better. So, he slid off the bed, went around to her, and laid his face against her arm. It was only for a moment and then he ran off, but it was an act of love. For the rest of the night until bedtime, he remained dysregulated, but he didn’t push LL again. And, yes, he willingly helped me pick up some of the items he had upset.