Book by Hal Edward Runkel, LMFT: AWESOME!
We are not responsible for our children. We are responsible to them.
I am not responsible for the choices my children make. I am responsible to them for caring for them, setting boundaries, and meeting their general needs.
Their choices are THEIR choices, I can't make them choose to do some thing...I can make choices about what I am going to do.
That's the other theme through out the book. parenting is not for the children. It's for the parents. Thoughts and themes like, "If you are not under control, you cannot be in charge.".
We always have a choice. Even the opportunity to grow is a choice! I love that he looks at things in this angle...If you haven't picked it up, I highly recommend it: Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool it gave me a lot of things to think about.
I wish I could articulate every thing ...But I just have so much to process! One thing that stood out to me was: The Only Person who you can make change, is YOU. If you are in a negative pattern with some one (a child, friend, spouse) the only person you can change, is you!
This really stood out to me with things I'm dealing with in my relationship with Roo Girl...As much as I didn't want to we were getting sucked into a very adversarial battle grounds...Not all the time, but I just have been at my wits end. I'm sick of saying the same things over and over and over again and getting angry and frustrated. I can't change her, I can't MAKE her stop the negative behaviors. But I can change it up, I can make the change in this relationship dynamic. One thing Runkel talked a lot about was taking a moment to focus on YOURSELF in difficult situations. He calls it a "pause". What are you thinking? What are you feeling? If the person doesn't do what you tell them to, what will you do? Where does the boundary need to be, and how will you uphold it? Is this a boundary issue or is some thing lacking in that moment in your relationship. If dealing with a behavioral issue with a little have you considered HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) can you help them deal with that so the behavior stops and give them tools to deal with it next times.
The other thing I loved was the exercise where he walked you through where you, and your children would be in 25 years...He had you really walk it all out in as much detail as possible, he asked a lot of questions but mainly: What kind of relationship do you want to have with your children in 25 years? and other things like, what character traits and ideals do they hold? What do their peers, friends and family say about them?
How are you going to get there?
He talked a lot about how children are individuals, they are not animals to be trained. From a very young age they make "choices" (not necessarily rational, but they are doing them on their own! They aren't part of us) that we don't like, and have no control over. They wake up at 2a.m. covered in poop. They teeth and can't sleep, they don't like a certain new pureed food we offer. Our job as parents isn't bring them in and train them to be these good godly people.
Here he says it better a brief quote:
"I speak a lot at churches and religious groups. One of the primary concerns of people in a faith community is training their children to love and honor God. For most people of faith, that is the number-one goal of parenting. Thus, they are a little put off when I assert that this is actually not their most important goal. Again and again I tell them that launching their children into a self-directed adulthood is far more important.
Why? Because if your child is not a self-directed adult, then whatever faith he does develop will not truly be his own. He cannot authentically choose to follow God if he cannot choose, on his own, to follow God."
He goes on to talk about how you absolutely discuss and involve your child in your faith (he was PC about it, etc. it's not a "Christian" book)
He concludes, " Again begin with the end in mind. Lead the horse to water... We are training children ultimately to become responsible for themselves and no one else. The ultimate goal of parenting is to launch our children into adulthood where they are self-directed, decisive, and responsible people."
He also asked questions about obedience... Why do we want our children to obey us? Because the bible says to? Because we say so and we're the adults and they need to learn to mind the adult? No we want our children to obey us because they have chosen to do it because it is the right thing to do. We want our children to be self-directed to have a strong sense of self and awareness of their conscience. To choose right from wrong on their own because of their own convictions...Not because they are scared of being shamed or punished. Will they always do it? No! And there will be natural and logical consequences (hopefully geared towards their developmental age) for that, some times bigger and harder to swallow. But they'll learn from them!
I loved this book, I think it's exactly what I needed to read at this point. It has a lot of similar themes to the book Easy to Love Difficult to Discipline...But I found it a bit more straight forward and simple. I have been struggling so much so frustrated with some things. I firmly believe that God has dropped this book in my lap. That and an awesome article on anger in the Mothering Magazine. Screamfree parenting has given me a bit more of the big picture to this parenting puzzle I've been working through.
And with that nap time is done...Time to go get the girls ready for our pediatrician appointment!