Not sure where to start? Start from scratch.
Someone just posted a question which basically went like this: “I want to be a respectful parent. I’m not. I yell, spank, punish. I know I’m doing it all wrong but I don’t know where to start?”
And an answer came to me: Start from scratch. Start as though you had just met your children for the first time. Start as if they were someone else’s children.
How would you treat them?
How would you approach them?
What tone would you use with them?
It’s sobering to acknowledge that sometimes the people closest to us, the very people we care about the most – get the worst of us. Children are such easy punching bags, aren’t they? They’re physically small (you can take them!), illiterate and have no money. Easy prey! I’m only being partially sarcastic. In her fabulous book on becoming a conscious parent Dr Shefali demonstrates how our children know exactly which buttons to press to trigger our deepest inner yearnings. Our children provide fertile ground to relive the pains, wounds and baggage we carry from our own childhood.
So yes, your children have been exposed to your ugliest sides: your loss of control, your rage, your pettiness – so have mine. But a mind trick we can all play on ourselves – just for a moment, just to reset our thoughts is – what if these were people, real people, people other than myself.
Because they are, you see. They aren’t there to please me, to accommodate me, for me to live vicariously through. They are their own person, their own spirit, their own agent and they deserve, at the very least, the respect I would instinctively extend to a stranger.
Respectful parenting can begin by realizing:
Your child isn’t fully yours. Not yours to posses.
But yours to love.