On days when it’s difficult (like really difficult) to choose whole-family effectiveness over self-centricity in parenting, I try to keep some basics in mind. These are really basic basics, but they work for me every time, and they help me to not slide so fast down the I-made-everything-worse hill.
- Do Kindness. Yes, let kindness be an observable and audible action. The way we speak, the things we do, and the way we respond to our children all have the potential to be the balm that their soul needs as well as the map their hearts need for a life full of goodness. Kindness leads with love, not fear.
- Show Empathy. Yes, lovingly and authentically display When we demonstrate that we are good listeners to our children and that we truly seek to understand them and where they are coming from, then we are helping to provide a critical piece to the healthy and resilient relationship that we are hoping to develop with our children.
- Be Patience. Yes, embody patience with all the divine strength and human will-power that you can muster. Not an easy task, ever. It might not even be completely achievable in all circumstances, but we can still try our best at it. The more we do it, the better we become at it. As with everything else in life.
How kindness, empathy, and patience will look in each of our families will be different. One person’s kindness voice might be high, another person’s might be low, and each of us might use a different-sounding voice at different times for different reasons. Or some children respond better when we ask lots of questions to show our empathy, other children might respond better when we ask fewer questions, and then there’s the type of question that different children will have different preferences for (yes/no, open-ended, thoughts/feelings, collaborative). And some parent-child duos require an exponentially greater amount of patience poured into the relationship stew than other duos might need. So things are going to look different because we are different.
It’s not about all of us sounding the same as we seek to parent our children with inclusive love and mutual respect at the forefront (what child-friendly parenting truly is). It’s about utilizing a framework of effectiveness that works for whoever we are as individuals, in whatever family situation we find ourselves in.