UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 2

 

My eldest son is fascinated by the human body, and it’s re-awakened my fascination too.   The design and intricacies and ingenuity of the whole human machine is indescribably incredible, it blows me away.  And don’t get me started on our development from virtually nothing in the womb.  Even if you don’t believe in any kind of deity, you’ve got to admit that whatever is powering this to happen is, well, pretty damn powerful.

 

It’s common knowledge that part of the design, our nervous system, functions to detect physical pain in the body, and protect us.  We put our hand in a flame…ow…pain detected…we instantly take it out…hand saved.

 

What’s not so well known is that our emotional pain serves a similar function – but this system is protecting us from our off-track thinking. 

 

When we are connected to our true self, we feel at peace, centred, clear and loving.   This is who we all our, underneath our personal thinking.  And it’s who we always are, it never goes away, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.

 

When we feel anything other than this sense of well-being and calm, it’s a signal that our thinking is faulty and off-track.  That we are buying into thoughts that are not telling us about who we really are or anything accurate about reality.  It’s a warning that we are not seeing things clearly, and that this is not a good time to respond or make decisions because this is not our wisdom speaking. 

 

Here’s a simple example to illustrate:

 

You walk into your child’s room and it’s a bomb site.  Some days this irritates the pants off you, some days you just notice, some days you smile fondly as it kind of reminds you of your room as a kid, and some days you ruefully note that your own parents would never have let you get away with living in this kind of hell-hole.

 

Exact same situation, four different responses (and countless other possibilities too).  Which means that the way you are responding can be nothing to do with your child or the mess, rather it’s just the way you’re thinking about it depending on the mood you happen to be in.

 

 So it’s nothing to do with the mess, and nothing to do with your child??   How and why then is this helpful??

 

Well, because most of the time our thoughts are so fast and rapid, we can’t catch them.  But we experience the feeling of our thoughts moment-to-moment, and so how we are feeling is like a barometer of thought quality.    If we are feeling relaxed, happy, sanguine, this is a signal that we are having thoughts that can be trusted and are in alignment with our true self.  If we are feeling irritated or cross or grumpy or out of sorts this is a signal that we are experiencing low mood, low quality thinking that can’t be trusted to be telling us anything about reality.

 

And crucially with our kids, it’s an indication of when’s a good time to guide them or work out solutions to an issue, and when to back the hell off.

 

There won’t be a parent in the world who hasn’t attempted to ‘teach’ or ‘correct’ or reprimand from a place of huge irritation, and it’s probably always going to happen at times.  Because we’re human and sometimes, many times, it’s just too tough not to and to have the self-control to reign ourselves in.  But if we’re honest, we know it’s not the best way and it never works or teaches our child anything – beyond being scared or wary of us, or increasing defiance.

 

And when we start to recognise our feelings as guides, we know that our irritation is a sign that we’re off-track and not thinking in line with our wisdom and clarity – and the outcome is never going to be successful.

 

So this naturally points us to a simple rule: never attempt to teach or lead from this place Keep your mouth shut, remove yourself, whatever it takes, but know that until you’ve calmed down you’re very unlikely to come up with a clear, measured response. 

 

If we could always react to these emotional alarms  in the same way we do to physical pain alarms, just think how much stress, back-tracking and apologies that would that save us?

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 2

Seeing feelings as guides and exploring why this is helpful

IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY

Because actually, we don’t need to be scared of any of our feelings or struggle against the flow of them…

HELPING KIDS WITH SCARY THOUGHTS

I was very struck by my 5-year old’s use of the word ‘dreams’ to describe the scary thoughts he was having about monsters before he went to sleep the other night. At first, when he said he was “scared of his dreams” I thought he meant he was scared to go to sleep...

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 1

Here’s one of the most basic but USEFUL things to know about our kids (and ourselves) and to pass onto our kids.  But also one of the hardest to get and accept because of the way most of us have (innocently) been conditioned.   ALL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AND...

ALLOWING PARENTING TO BE SIMPLER

I knew something had shifted when I stopped reading books about parenting approaches, strategies and techniques and stopped feeling the urge to write ‘how-to’ posts or step-by-step guides. And it wasn’t because I suddenly knew it all and everything was sunshine and...

PERFECT PARENTING 101

What if we treated our children like we do any other close, sacred relationship?   What if we didn't see them as inferior, but equal?   What if we trusted they have everything they need already, even before they arrive in this world?   What if we saw them as already...

CREATING PEACEFUL FAMILY EATING HABITS

A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with three different preferences and three different eating patterns and bodily...

HOW I STOPPED BEING AN ANGRY PARENT (most of the time…)

I never assumed parenting was going to be a walk in the park. But one thing in particular that I was not at all prepared for was quite how angry I would find myself becoming at times. And the very worst of those times were apparently all because of a two-year-old?? Yep, who knew that a…

DO PEACEFUL PARENTS LET THEIR KIDS DO AS THEY PLEASE?

I have found that as soon as you acknowledge the way you parent in terms such as ‘peaceful’, ‘positive’, ‘freedom’ or ‘respectful’, you are opening a rather large can of worms for a rather large number of misconceptions. And one of the biggest tends to be that...

HOW TO SET LIMITS THE KIND WAY

Choosing a gentle approach to parenting that doesn’t rely on coercion and punishment is very often the easy bit.  The tricky bit begins as your innocent baby turns into a curious toddler.  All of a sudden, you realise you need to find peaceful ways to keep them safe...

IS YOUR PARENTING UP-TO-DATE? (WITH THE LATEST BRAIN SCIENCE)

It is probably true to say that most of us were brought up by parents who expected and enforced a pretty high degree of obedience and conformity to rules, and they did so by liberal use or threat of punishments and/or consequences. There is no judgement or blame…

HOW TO PREVENT TOYS FROM TAKING OVER YOUR HOUSE…AND YOUR SANITY

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of toys in your house? Do you struggle to find places to put them and to get your kids to help keep them tidy? Someone asked me the other day what my thoughts were on managing and tidying toys…

HOW NOT TO POTTY TRAIN

I suspect that one of the problems for the old woman who lived in a shoe (and perhaps one of many reasons why her children were so unhappy and unruly), was that once she’d found a couple of approaches that worked with the first few of her children, she assumed it...

ARE YOU A CURIOUS PARENT? How To Ask Questions To Deepen Connection With Your Child

The other day my 7-year-old was engrossed in ‘den’ making and called for me to come and help tie a rope. I was mid making pancakes and knew that’d I’d be liable to char the lot if I allowed myself to be distracted. So I said, “Yes I will, in a minute, I’ve nearly finished”. He puffed in exasperation…

EMERGENCY PARENTING: The One Word That Can Save The Day

Sibling world war 23756 breaks out just as I’m trying to get tea. I’m tired and frazzled from a long day and too many thoughts going on in my head and too long a gap since I last stopped to clear them. The cries and screams get louder and l can feel my heart rate increase and little bubbles of irritation start to expand in…

IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY

 

A few weeks ago I set off on a road trip to a weekend workshop – with great excitement, and as I realise now, way too high expectations.

 

Not that there’s anything wrong with being excited or expectant or hopeful, not at all.  But as long as you’re prepared for what actually unfolds and to be accepting of the in-the-moment reality.

 

Which, as it turns out, I wasn’t.

 

I unexpectedly hit a low mood, and one that seemed to engulf me.  Just at a time when I wanted so much to feel connected – to myself and others – and to be alive to joy and peace and well-being.

 

And the more I tried to feel better and put on a brave face, the worse I felt.  The more I internally raged and got upset, the more emotional and frustrated I became.  I increasingly fell into that seductive trap that my thinking was real and was telling me truths about who I am, and how I was coping and coming across.  And the more I did this, obviously, again the worse I felt.  By the last day I was officially A MESS.

 

What somehow made it even harder was having glimpses every now and then of what was going on.  But STILL not feeling better or being able to ‘get over it’.

 

By the last hour of the last day I finally twigged the issue…I just wasn’t okay with not being okay.  Lots of times I am.  But not in that situation, not at that time. It was not part of the plan, it SHOULDN’T be this way.  I was still trying to control stuff that’s frankly just not in my hands.

 

It’s like trying to fight an ocean wave, and believing I can control it or stop it.  It’s not possible.  And my futile attempts to do so merely slow it down, or divert it in other directions – and ultimately make it stick around even longer.

 

Because actually, we don’t need to be scared of any of our feelings or struggle against the flow of them.  By not fighting a low mood & low quality thinking and seeing it for what it is – a temporary, tiny, arbitrary blip in the ocean – it rolls on through and runs its course.

 

These waves have nothing to say about the sea bed, they give no meaning to the sea bed.  This part is solid, unchanging, unmoving.  It doesn’t care about the waves, how high they are, how long they are.  This part just is.  And this is who we really are, who we always are, whatever the waves or weather is doing above.

 

My low and emotional mood was mighty inconvenient, and definitely didn’t feel to me like the best timing.  But who am I to try and control these things??  And more to the point, it didn’t have to matter or mean anything – until I struggled against it. It didn’t change anything about the solid sea bed of who I really am.  My well-being, health, peace, love, contentment, wisdom – that was still all there, unscathed by the violent thought storm that was going on above it.

 

I can’t help wondering what would have happened if I’d caught myself sooner.  If I’d realised I was falling for the illusion that I am my thinking.  If I’d relaxed into acceptance rather than clenched into resistance and ‘this shouldn’t be happening!”

 

But fortunately I know there will most definitely be another time.  It’s just the way life works.  The illusion of thought is too compelling for us not to slip up time and time again.

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 2

Seeing feelings as guides and exploring why this is helpful

IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY

Because actually, we don’t need to be scared of any of our feelings or struggle against the flow of them…

HELPING KIDS WITH SCARY THOUGHTS

I was very struck by my 5-year old’s use of the word ‘dreams’ to describe the scary thoughts he was having about monsters before he went to sleep the other night. At first, when he said he was “scared of his dreams” I thought he meant he was scared to go to sleep...

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 1

Here’s one of the most basic but USEFUL things to know about our kids (and ourselves) and to pass onto our kids.  But also one of the hardest to get and accept because of the way most of us have (innocently) been conditioned.   ALL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AND...

ALLOWING PARENTING TO BE SIMPLER

I knew something had shifted when I stopped reading books about parenting approaches, strategies and techniques and stopped feeling the urge to write ‘how-to’ posts or step-by-step guides. And it wasn’t because I suddenly knew it all and everything was sunshine and...

PERFECT PARENTING 101

What if we treated our children like we do any other close, sacred relationship?   What if we didn't see them as inferior, but equal?   What if we trusted they have everything they need already, even before they arrive in this world?   What if we saw them as already...

CREATING PEACEFUL FAMILY EATING HABITS

A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with three different preferences and three different eating patterns and bodily...

HOW I STOPPED BEING AN ANGRY PARENT (most of the time…)

I never assumed parenting was going to be a walk in the park. But one thing in particular that I was not at all prepared for was quite how angry I would find myself becoming at times. And the very worst of those times were apparently all because of a two-year-old?? Yep, who knew that a…

DO PEACEFUL PARENTS LET THEIR KIDS DO AS THEY PLEASE?

I have found that as soon as you acknowledge the way you parent in terms such as ‘peaceful’, ‘positive’, ‘freedom’ or ‘respectful’, you are opening a rather large can of worms for a rather large number of misconceptions. And one of the biggest tends to be that...

HOW TO SET LIMITS THE KIND WAY

Choosing a gentle approach to parenting that doesn’t rely on coercion and punishment is very often the easy bit.  The tricky bit begins as your innocent baby turns into a curious toddler.  All of a sudden, you realise you need to find peaceful ways to keep them safe...

IS YOUR PARENTING UP-TO-DATE? (WITH THE LATEST BRAIN SCIENCE)

It is probably true to say that most of us were brought up by parents who expected and enforced a pretty high degree of obedience and conformity to rules, and they did so by liberal use or threat of punishments and/or consequences. There is no judgement or blame…

HOW TO PREVENT TOYS FROM TAKING OVER YOUR HOUSE…AND YOUR SANITY

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of toys in your house? Do you struggle to find places to put them and to get your kids to help keep them tidy? Someone asked me the other day what my thoughts were on managing and tidying toys…

HOW NOT TO POTTY TRAIN

I suspect that one of the problems for the old woman who lived in a shoe (and perhaps one of many reasons why her children were so unhappy and unruly), was that once she’d found a couple of approaches that worked with the first few of her children, she assumed it...

ARE YOU A CURIOUS PARENT? How To Ask Questions To Deepen Connection With Your Child

The other day my 7-year-old was engrossed in ‘den’ making and called for me to come and help tie a rope. I was mid making pancakes and knew that’d I’d be liable to char the lot if I allowed myself to be distracted. So I said, “Yes I will, in a minute, I’ve nearly finished”. He puffed in exasperation…

EMERGENCY PARENTING: The One Word That Can Save The Day

Sibling world war 23756 breaks out just as I’m trying to get tea. I’m tired and frazzled from a long day and too many thoughts going on in my head and too long a gap since I last stopped to clear them. The cries and screams get louder and l can feel my heart rate increase and little bubbles of irritation start to expand in…

HELPING KIDS WITH SCARY THOUGHTS

I was very struck by my 5-year old’s use of the word ‘dreams’ to describe the scary thoughts he was having about monsters before he went to sleep the other night.

At first, when he said he was “scared of his dreams” I thought he meant he was scared to go to sleep because he was fearful of having bad dreams. But then I realised he meant he was having scary thoughts just before going to sleep.

It fascinated me because I saw that he was also telling me that he partly knew the thoughts weren’t real. And that even though he kind of knew they weren’t real, he still felt like they were and he didn’t like them and they scared him and he wanted them to go away.

Which is in fact exactly what we adult humans innocently do all the time with our own thoughts. Something occurs to us, we mentally grab it and assume it means something and that it’s telling us something true about what’s happening in the world. We analyse it, dwell on it, take it as our own and add more thoughts on top. We inadvertently create a huge thought storm that we come to believe is a real story about us – and then invest heaps of energy in trying to ‘cope’ or suppress or get these thoughts to go away.

But back to my son, the more he thought about the monsters, the more scared he felt, and the more he wanted to do something to get them to go away. And given that he doesn’t yet fully understand the nature of thought – that it’s just energy passing through us and not telling us anything about reality – this makes perfect sense. Because we are always living in the feeling of our thinking in each moment, the ‘monsters’ understandably felt incredibly real and scary to him.

So I could see that things like looking under his bed to help him check for monsters, telling him that monsters don’t live in houses (and implying they still exist somewhere!), telling him to describe it and tell me more about his ‘dream’, wouldn’t be helpful. All this would only serve to add fuel to his scary thinking, make him think about it more and give it disproportionate significance.

Instead I simply asked him,

“Are the monsters in your head real or are they just pretend?”

Pretend.

“Do you remember what I told you about ‘dreams’ that come into our head?”

I don’t know.

“If we decide that they are real, they stay a while. But if we decide that they’re just pretend and just wave at them…after not too long they just float on by and away out of your head.”

This is really just a simplified way of saying that thoughts only stick around if you keep giving them more energy and attention. Thought is transient and impersonal, and if we leave it alone it naturally passes on through leaving space for fresh new thinking to come in.

That particular night, my little one really seemed to hear this and he was soon asleep. I’m not by any means saying that I’ve cured him of ever being scared by his thoughts or dreams; it’s guaranteed that there will be countless more conversations like this.

But it’s an example of the kind of situation where deeply understanding the nature of the mind and thought is very empowering and frees us up to handle the situation with the absolute clarity, certainty and okay-ness our kids need to feel from us.

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 2

Seeing feelings as guides and exploring why this is helpful

IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY

Because actually, we don’t need to be scared of any of our feelings or struggle against the flow of them…

HELPING KIDS WITH SCARY THOUGHTS

I was very struck by my 5-year old’s use of the word ‘dreams’ to describe the scary thoughts he was having about monsters before he went to sleep the other night. At first, when he said he was “scared of his dreams” I thought he meant he was scared to go to sleep...

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 1

Here’s one of the most basic but USEFUL things to know about our kids (and ourselves) and to pass onto our kids.  But also one of the hardest to get and accept because of the way most of us have (innocently) been conditioned.   ALL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AND...

ALLOWING PARENTING TO BE SIMPLER

I knew something had shifted when I stopped reading books about parenting approaches, strategies and techniques and stopped feeling the urge to write ‘how-to’ posts or step-by-step guides. And it wasn’t because I suddenly knew it all and everything was sunshine and...

PERFECT PARENTING 101

What if we treated our children like we do any other close, sacred relationship?   What if we didn't see them as inferior, but equal?   What if we trusted they have everything they need already, even before they arrive in this world?   What if we saw them as already...

CREATING PEACEFUL FAMILY EATING HABITS

A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with three different preferences and three different eating patterns and bodily...

HOW I STOPPED BEING AN ANGRY PARENT (most of the time…)

I never assumed parenting was going to be a walk in the park. But one thing in particular that I was not at all prepared for was quite how angry I would find myself becoming at times. And the very worst of those times were apparently all because of a two-year-old?? Yep, who knew that a…

DO PEACEFUL PARENTS LET THEIR KIDS DO AS THEY PLEASE?

I have found that as soon as you acknowledge the way you parent in terms such as ‘peaceful’, ‘positive’, ‘freedom’ or ‘respectful’, you are opening a rather large can of worms for a rather large number of misconceptions. And one of the biggest tends to be that...

HOW TO SET LIMITS THE KIND WAY

Choosing a gentle approach to parenting that doesn’t rely on coercion and punishment is very often the easy bit.  The tricky bit begins as your innocent baby turns into a curious toddler.  All of a sudden, you realise you need to find peaceful ways to keep them safe...

IS YOUR PARENTING UP-TO-DATE? (WITH THE LATEST BRAIN SCIENCE)

It is probably true to say that most of us were brought up by parents who expected and enforced a pretty high degree of obedience and conformity to rules, and they did so by liberal use or threat of punishments and/or consequences. There is no judgement or blame…

HOW TO PREVENT TOYS FROM TAKING OVER YOUR HOUSE…AND YOUR SANITY

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of toys in your house? Do you struggle to find places to put them and to get your kids to help keep them tidy? Someone asked me the other day what my thoughts were on managing and tidying toys…

HOW NOT TO POTTY TRAIN

I suspect that one of the problems for the old woman who lived in a shoe (and perhaps one of many reasons why her children were so unhappy and unruly), was that once she’d found a couple of approaches that worked with the first few of her children, she assumed it...

ARE YOU A CURIOUS PARENT? How To Ask Questions To Deepen Connection With Your Child

The other day my 7-year-old was engrossed in ‘den’ making and called for me to come and help tie a rope. I was mid making pancakes and knew that’d I’d be liable to char the lot if I allowed myself to be distracted. So I said, “Yes I will, in a minute, I’ve nearly finished”. He puffed in exasperation…

EMERGENCY PARENTING: The One Word That Can Save The Day

Sibling world war 23756 breaks out just as I’m trying to get tea. I’m tired and frazzled from a long day and too many thoughts going on in my head and too long a gap since I last stopped to clear them. The cries and screams get louder and l can feel my heart rate increase and little bubbles of irritation start to expand in…

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 1

Here’s one of the most basic but USEFUL things to know about our kids (and ourselves) and to pass onto our kids.  But also one of the hardest to get and accept because of the way most of us have (innocently) been conditioned.

 

ALL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AND OKAY

 

And regularly having and expressing this whole range of feelings, many times a day (and even an hour!) is totally normal and okay too.

 

Knowing this means that just as we respond to our kids smiles and excitement with acceptance and love, so we can respond to their tears and grumps and frustration with the same acceptance and love.  In fact, this is the very definition of unconditional love.

 

Even when there’s a total s**t show going on around you, that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean anything bad.  Perhaps your child’s in a low mood. Maybe all your kids are in a low mood. Maybe there’s an obvious cause, maybe there isn’t. But that’s okay, it’s all okay…it will pass. Knowing that all of it is totally okay and normal is your biggest weapon. Most of the time we don’t have to attribute meaning to it, assume something is ‘wrong’, analyse it, bitch about it, take it personally.  It is what it is.  And the less we react, attempt to fix and soothe and distract and ‘sort out’, the quicker it will pass by.

 

We don’t worry about the dark clouds in the sky, right?  We know they’ll pass eventually and the sun will come out?

Same thing.

Left alone, kids (and all of us) naturally self-correct back to our innately calm and centered selves.  That’s the beauty in the design of humans, it’s just how it works.

Coming soon: Why we have feelings and what they tell us

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 2

Seeing feelings as guides and exploring why this is helpful

IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY

Because actually, we don’t need to be scared of any of our feelings or struggle against the flow of them…

HELPING KIDS WITH SCARY THOUGHTS

I was very struck by my 5-year old’s use of the word ‘dreams’ to describe the scary thoughts he was having about monsters before he went to sleep the other night. At first, when he said he was “scared of his dreams” I thought he meant he was scared to go to sleep...

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 1

Here’s one of the most basic but USEFUL things to know about our kids (and ourselves) and to pass onto our kids.  But also one of the hardest to get and accept because of the way most of us have (innocently) been conditioned.   ALL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AND...

ALLOWING PARENTING TO BE SIMPLER

I knew something had shifted when I stopped reading books about parenting approaches, strategies and techniques and stopped feeling the urge to write ‘how-to’ posts or step-by-step guides. And it wasn’t because I suddenly knew it all and everything was sunshine and...

PERFECT PARENTING 101

What if we treated our children like we do any other close, sacred relationship?   What if we didn't see them as inferior, but equal?   What if we trusted they have everything they need already, even before they arrive in this world?   What if we saw them as already...

CREATING PEACEFUL FAMILY EATING HABITS

A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with three different preferences and three different eating patterns and bodily...

HOW I STOPPED BEING AN ANGRY PARENT (most of the time…)

I never assumed parenting was going to be a walk in the park. But one thing in particular that I was not at all prepared for was quite how angry I would find myself becoming at times. And the very worst of those times were apparently all because of a two-year-old?? Yep, who knew that a…

DO PEACEFUL PARENTS LET THEIR KIDS DO AS THEY PLEASE?

I have found that as soon as you acknowledge the way you parent in terms such as ‘peaceful’, ‘positive’, ‘freedom’ or ‘respectful’, you are opening a rather large can of worms for a rather large number of misconceptions. And one of the biggest tends to be that...

HOW TO SET LIMITS THE KIND WAY

Choosing a gentle approach to parenting that doesn’t rely on coercion and punishment is very often the easy bit.  The tricky bit begins as your innocent baby turns into a curious toddler.  All of a sudden, you realise you need to find peaceful ways to keep them safe...

IS YOUR PARENTING UP-TO-DATE? (WITH THE LATEST BRAIN SCIENCE)

It is probably true to say that most of us were brought up by parents who expected and enforced a pretty high degree of obedience and conformity to rules, and they did so by liberal use or threat of punishments and/or consequences. There is no judgement or blame…

HOW TO PREVENT TOYS FROM TAKING OVER YOUR HOUSE…AND YOUR SANITY

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of toys in your house? Do you struggle to find places to put them and to get your kids to help keep them tidy? Someone asked me the other day what my thoughts were on managing and tidying toys…

HOW NOT TO POTTY TRAIN

I suspect that one of the problems for the old woman who lived in a shoe (and perhaps one of many reasons why her children were so unhappy and unruly), was that once she’d found a couple of approaches that worked with the first few of her children, she assumed it...

ARE YOU A CURIOUS PARENT? How To Ask Questions To Deepen Connection With Your Child

The other day my 7-year-old was engrossed in ‘den’ making and called for me to come and help tie a rope. I was mid making pancakes and knew that’d I’d be liable to char the lot if I allowed myself to be distracted. So I said, “Yes I will, in a minute, I’ve nearly finished”. He puffed in exasperation…

EMERGENCY PARENTING: The One Word That Can Save The Day

Sibling world war 23756 breaks out just as I’m trying to get tea. I’m tired and frazzled from a long day and too many thoughts going on in my head and too long a gap since I last stopped to clear them. The cries and screams get louder and l can feel my heart rate increase and little bubbles of irritation start to expand in…

ALLOWING PARENTING TO BE SIMPLER

I knew something had shifted when I stopped reading books about parenting approaches, strategies and techniques and stopped feeling the urge to write ‘how-to’ posts or step-by-step guides.

And it wasn’t because I suddenly knew it all and everything was sunshine and roses 24/7…I wish 😉.

I think it’s because I gradually realised that there’s much less to ‘know’ or ‘get’ than I ever imagined.

I was finding that intellectualising on all that theory and information and opinion was adding to my mental load and a constant distraction from listening to my own parenting instincts and innate clarity and wisdom.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge advocate of peaceful, respectful and gentle parenting approaches; they intuitively still feel spot on.  But by focusing mainly on what we need to do to learn to parent peacefully I realise I was innocently missing a deeper, very vital point.

Which is that WE ARE THAT PARENT ALREADY.  There is nothing we need to do to get there.  At our core, beyond our thoughts, behaviour and experience, we are innately whole, well, wise, peaceful and joyful.  It’s our birthright, and it’s always been there and always will be whether we can see it or not.  It’s just that the way nearly all of us have been innocently conditioned is to forget this.  Forget it so deeply that we almost no longer believe it.

But it is this part of us, the part that has remained constant from babyhood to now, this is who we really are.   And this core part of us is unchangeable, unbreakable; it never goes away.  We all have this, we are all the same.  And more to the point here, so are our children.

And once we see this, know this, much of traditional parenting makes less and less sense:

 

We don’t need to ‘train’ our kids or ‘manage’ their behaviour; they are born cooperative and ‘good’.

We don’t need to engage in power struggles or ‘get’ them to respect us; consistently and genuinely demonstrating our respect for them is enough for that to evolve naturally.

We don’t need to ‘learn’ how to parent, how to cope, how to stay calm, how to love; this is all within us already for the taking.

We don’t need to buy into the hype that parenting is inevitably hard work and a struggle. Of course, the practical elements can be exhausting (I’m definitely not denying that), but the heart of the parent-child relationship itself is naturally about joyful connection, about our light meeting with their light.

 

Our kids have had less time on this strange planet than us, so there are obviously practical and safety elements where they can benefit from our experience and need a compassionate guide.  And I’m not suggesting there are never situations where we need to intervene or advocate for them.

But what if the rest of it we’ve over-complicated and mainly made up?  And our attempts to fix, manage, teach, discipline actually get in the way and create problems that were never there to start with.

It looks to me that when we pay too much attention to advice from our family, friends, other parents, ‘experts’ (so sorry if that’s been me ☹), our heads get filled with a confusion of ‘shoulds’ and shouldn’ts’ that makes no sense in our hearts.  We forget that we can trust ourselves, that when our head is clear we can hear the moment-to-moment wisdom that’s always there guiding us.  That same wisdom that successfully guided our ancestors for so many moons, long, long before we came to rely on google and facebook to find our answers.

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 2

Seeing feelings as guides and exploring why this is helpful

IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY

Because actually, we don’t need to be scared of any of our feelings or struggle against the flow of them…

HELPING KIDS WITH SCARY THOUGHTS

I was very struck by my 5-year old’s use of the word ‘dreams’ to describe the scary thoughts he was having about monsters before he went to sleep the other night. At first, when he said he was “scared of his dreams” I thought he meant he was scared to go to sleep...

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 1

Here’s one of the most basic but USEFUL things to know about our kids (and ourselves) and to pass onto our kids.  But also one of the hardest to get and accept because of the way most of us have (innocently) been conditioned.   ALL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AND...

ALLOWING PARENTING TO BE SIMPLER

I knew something had shifted when I stopped reading books about parenting approaches, strategies and techniques and stopped feeling the urge to write ‘how-to’ posts or step-by-step guides. And it wasn’t because I suddenly knew it all and everything was sunshine and...

PERFECT PARENTING 101

What if we treated our children like we do any other close, sacred relationship?   What if we didn't see them as inferior, but equal?   What if we trusted they have everything they need already, even before they arrive in this world?   What if we saw them as already...

CREATING PEACEFUL FAMILY EATING HABITS

A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with three different preferences and three different eating patterns and bodily...

HOW I STOPPED BEING AN ANGRY PARENT (most of the time…)

I never assumed parenting was going to be a walk in the park. But one thing in particular that I was not at all prepared for was quite how angry I would find myself becoming at times. And the very worst of those times were apparently all because of a two-year-old?? Yep, who knew that a…

DO PEACEFUL PARENTS LET THEIR KIDS DO AS THEY PLEASE?

I have found that as soon as you acknowledge the way you parent in terms such as ‘peaceful’, ‘positive’, ‘freedom’ or ‘respectful’, you are opening a rather large can of worms for a rather large number of misconceptions. And one of the biggest tends to be that...

HOW TO SET LIMITS THE KIND WAY

Choosing a gentle approach to parenting that doesn’t rely on coercion and punishment is very often the easy bit.  The tricky bit begins as your innocent baby turns into a curious toddler.  All of a sudden, you realise you need to find peaceful ways to keep them safe...

IS YOUR PARENTING UP-TO-DATE? (WITH THE LATEST BRAIN SCIENCE)

It is probably true to say that most of us were brought up by parents who expected and enforced a pretty high degree of obedience and conformity to rules, and they did so by liberal use or threat of punishments and/or consequences. There is no judgement or blame…

HOW TO PREVENT TOYS FROM TAKING OVER YOUR HOUSE…AND YOUR SANITY

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of toys in your house? Do you struggle to find places to put them and to get your kids to help keep them tidy? Someone asked me the other day what my thoughts were on managing and tidying toys…

HOW NOT TO POTTY TRAIN

I suspect that one of the problems for the old woman who lived in a shoe (and perhaps one of many reasons why her children were so unhappy and unruly), was that once she’d found a couple of approaches that worked with the first few of her children, she assumed it...

ARE YOU A CURIOUS PARENT? How To Ask Questions To Deepen Connection With Your Child

The other day my 7-year-old was engrossed in ‘den’ making and called for me to come and help tie a rope. I was mid making pancakes and knew that’d I’d be liable to char the lot if I allowed myself to be distracted. So I said, “Yes I will, in a minute, I’ve nearly finished”. He puffed in exasperation…

EMERGENCY PARENTING: The One Word That Can Save The Day

Sibling world war 23756 breaks out just as I’m trying to get tea. I’m tired and frazzled from a long day and too many thoughts going on in my head and too long a gap since I last stopped to clear them. The cries and screams get louder and l can feel my heart rate increase and little bubbles of irritation start to expand in…