This past weekend I had taken my daughter along with my two nieces out for lunch. They were all having a great time drawing, laughing and saying plenty of ahhs and oohs to the fish tank in the restaurant that we were at. I surely had my hands full with a 4 year old, a 5 year old and a 6 year old. As I sat there it came to mind the difference in parenting style between my brother and I. It reminded me of growing up in a culture where discipline came forth in the form of yelling and hitting when you misbehaved. This is the norm in my native country and is what’s done and accepted by all.
I reflected back to my behavior growing up. I had a lot to say, and when things didn’t quite work the way I wanted I yelled, dropped a few curse words and ran away for cover knowing that a flip flop or a butt slap was on its way. I reacted to what I heard and was given. As a result I became a little defiant at times. I was not abused by any means. As my mom used to say, I just got a little flip flop discipline at times.
I don’t know when I made the decision to do it differently. But somewhere along the line, I decided that if I had kids, I would not hit my children; that there was a better way to discipline them. Perhaps, subconsciously going through healing school taught me to be more present as a parent, and to make better decisions when it came to disciplining my child. But I’m glad I did, and I’ve been able to see a difference with my daughter because of it.
My daughter is also very sensitive and kind hearted in nature. She cries if you raise your voice too much at her, imagine her reaction if she ever got hit. Sometimes the way I was raised and my culture takes the best of me and I yell. Shortly after I’ve realized that I have hurt her feelings in the process. So I have learned to find patience, ground down when she is not cooperating and speak to her differently with an open heart. And on those occasions where my yell has caused her to cry, I have gotten her in my arms, apologize for hurting her feelings, and explain in a different way what I needed her to do.
I find that this behavior works well for us. I have found that the threat of a time-out works wonders, and seldom have I actually needed to implement it. For the most part she is really good at following instructions and expressing her needs and feelings. She is also well behaved and is able to be in any type of setting without being disruptive or disrespectful. She knows that I see her and listen to her, thus she is getting her needs met. She is very sociable and outgoing and knows that she doesn’t have to create a scene or cry to get attention.
Children can teach us so many things; patience, love, & understanding are a few of those. We must not let our past experiences get in the way of being fully present for our children and we must give them the attention and understanding that they need. Just remember how it felt for you when you were a child and did not feel understood, supported, seen or listened by your parents. If you were also hit in the process what did that do for you at that time? Everyone has their own style of parenting, but I invite you from time to time to take the time to revisit life through your children’s eyes.