Parenting is simple, right? I can read every parenting book in the world, and they all pare down to the same basic concepts. Love unconditionally, foster emotional security, communicate effectively. Be flexible, be patient, be kind. Eat well, sleep well. Look for every opportunity to give hugs. Be the authority in your child’s life.
When I attended that training a few weeks ago with Gordon Neufeld, he would frequently check in with the class throughout his lectures. He kept interjecting, “You follow me?” And, yes, we always did. It was hard not to. The concepts on attachment and connection on which he elaborated so thoroughly were really very simple. And he kept excitedly reaffirming that for us: “It is so simple!” practically dancing with enthusiasm. “But it is not easy!”
Certainly not. That’s why there are so many parenting books out there. With each book, experts are trying to show parents how easy it can be…if we only just do this, say that, avoid this, focus on that. But when it comes down to those how-tos, the simple-but-not-easy perspective becomes apparent. I must have at least one moment every day in which I wonder why such a simple concept in theory is so difficult in practice. These concepts, as experienced in my own parenting, have the biggest disparity between simplicity and ease-of-practice:
Stay calm. Need I explain?
Make sure kids get enough sleep. So simple, but not necessarily so easy for us.
Be kind and firm at the same time.
Say “I’m sorry.”
Listen. Without judging, offering advice, lecturing, solving the problem, making it about anyone else. Being a good listener is not easy.
Let natural consequences speak for themselves.
Take time to teach. Be patient.
Don’t fix their mistakes.
Understand. Perspective, capabilities, personality, level of development
Remember that misbehavior is the result of an unmet emotional need. To improve the behavior, address the root of the problem.
Don’t give my kids the answers, be their answer. Make our relationship their compass.
What to do except keep on trying? Every day is a new chance to both focus on the simplicity of connected parenting, and to make a better attempt at those supposedly instinctual how-tos.
(Here are Elia & JJ…enjoying the simple life. Ah, to be not-yet-old-enough to worry about any kind of how-to):