The Inauthenticity of Anger

Welcome to the July 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Anger

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about anger. We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about breastfeeding.

***

Feelings…..nothing more than feelings….Anger. It’s a very real emotion and one that many parents have experienced. Anger, even when expressed in healthy ways, is not healthy tough.

How can a real emotion be unhealthy? It is unhealthy because it is a manifestation of our inauthenticity. You heard me correctly. While anger can be very real, it isn’t authentic.

Anger is actually a secondary emotion. It always follows after other emotions. While emotions point us toward our met and unmet needs, as a secondary emotion, anger doesn’t let us know what is going on.

When we find ourselves angry, we have ignored the primary emotions, the ones that were there to tell us about our met and unmet needs. We haven’t been honest with ourselves or with the people we love.

It is important to take the time to discover the primary emotion we are experiencing in order to address what is really going on. When we are being authentic, including with our parenting, we address issues before we reach that point of anger. Sure, there are times that we may be frustrated, sad, upset, or just feel unappreciated. The time to address those issues is when they occur. Bottling up our feelings until they explode into anger isn’t helpful to anyone.

Be kind to yourself and kind to your family. Acknowledge the primary emotions and work together to meet everyone’s needs. Be authentic.

photo credit: Mysi(new stream: www.flickr.com/photos/mysianne) via photopin cc

***

APBC - Authentic Parenting

Visit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month’s Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, when we discuss breastfeeding!

 

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon July 27 with all the carnival links.)

Hitting Out of Fear

 Today is National Spank Out Day, I’m sad to say. In a society where we speak out against the hitting of women, against the hitting of racial minorities, against the hitting of animals, against the hitting and bullying of anyone, there are still a large number of people who think hitting children is perfectly acceptable or even necessary. It boggles my mind.

The thing is, parenting can be scary. We go through pregnancy with the child secure inside its mother’s womb, and then suddenly this little person is on the outside, completely dependent upon….us. Children depend on us for food, shelter, warmth, guidance, and love. It’s a lot to take on. The fact is that while some people who hit their kids really don’t care, most of the parents hitting their children actually love them and do so because they are afraid.

They are afraid….

  • that by not hitting their kids, society will deem them unfit parents.
  • that their children won’t respect them.
  • that their children will be hurt even worse.
  • of losing control.
  • of the pressures of life.
  • of not knowing what to do.
It’s a scary world out there, full of unknowns, but when it comes to parenting, you don’t have to be afraid! Your children come into this world knowing only you. You are everything to them. They look up to you. They love you. They just want to spend time with you and learn with and from you.
Forget about what other people might think. The only people who matter are your kids. Besides, haven’t you heard that you shouldn’t jump off a bridge just because your friends did?
You won’t gain respect by hitting someone. In fact, you will lose it. Hitting a person, especially a smaller person, in order to control them is called bullying.
Hurting your child will not protect them in the future. Helping them navigate life and giving them tools and techniques to deal with life’s situations will.
There are a lot of things in life you can’t control, and that includes other people. Accept it. Deal with it if you need to, and then help your children to learn to control themselves.
Life can be rough, but that idea that your kids are born loving you? Still there. Come home to your kids and remember that no matter how bad life gets, they love you.
If you don’t know what to do, don’t resort to violence. Learn a new way. Learn how to help your children navigate that allowing your hurt to rule your actions.
In the end, no matter why some parents hit, they still make that choice. With every day and every situation, you have the opportunity to choose not  to hit. Your children love you. Live up to that love. Be deserving of the respect they want to show you. Be deserving of the love they freely give.

 photo credit: dhammza via photopin cc

Living in Fear

No Going Back

Photo by Mariano Kamp

I was up most of the night of December 2. I had been mixing applesauce cinnamon dough for a co-op class the next morning and had a severe allergic reaction. Around five o’clock in the morning of December 3, I kissed my husband goodbye as he headed to the airport for a week long business trip. I then headed to bed in the hopes of getting in a little sleep before the kids woke up and we had to get on with our day.

The class went well. All of the kids had fun rolling out their dough and cutting out ornaments to take home and dry. I carefully wore gloves anytime I had to touch it. We chatted with friends, and after they all left, we had a nice little lunch and read some books. We needed to run a few errands, so we headed out about 1:30 PM. It was a lovely day out and we decided to head the park and try to get some great photos to put on cards to mail to friends and family.

We pulled into our driveway just before 3 PM, ready to grab clean shirts for the kids and my camera for some photography fun. I saw that the lights on the outside of the garage were on and made a mental note to remind the kids to double check that they were only flipping on the inside garage light and not the outside light. The switches are next to one another and sometimes the outside lights are accidentally turned on. I hit the button for the garage door to go up, parked in the driveway, and proceeded to help my younger children unbuckle, grab our purchases out of the back of the van, check the mail, and head in through the garage, which we used as a mudroom due to the limited space. I noticed that the garage smelled like cinnamon, as our house had earlier, and thought it odd that the smell had permeated so strongly into the garage. Later, my oldest child told me the door was wide open when he went in. He thought I had gone up to unlock it before getting the mail.

We went inside, dropping the diaper bag and purchases by the door as we rushed to get to the park before we lost the fantastic light we were being afforded. I began going through my two year old’s shirts while my other children started checking what they had clean. My eight year old came to me with three shirts, and I informed her that there was a basket of clean clothes in front of the dryer. She headed down to check and immediately came running back up the stairs saying, “Mom! Someone broke in!” My immediate thought was denial, so I ran down the stairs. I was halfway down when I saw the baby gate around the television had been moved. Turning, I saw our back door was wide open with the trim boards broken and laying on the floor.

I raced back up, scooping up my youngest child and telling the kids we had to get out. Luckily the diaper bag still sat by the kitchen door, and I grabbed it as we raced back out to the driveway. I pulled the phone out as I gathered my children close and called 911.  I tried reaching my husband, but he was in a meeting halfway across the country. I called a friend who made some calls so that we would have help securing the door that evening. I cried. I didn’t know if the perpetrators were still there. I thought about my children, my babies, being in the house where there might have been strangers who could have harmed them. I shook.  cried some more, and I hugged my crying children close.

We were lucky. We weren’t home at the time, and no one was hurt. The people who broke into our home were professionals. They didn’t trash the house, they just took most of our electronics. We think the garage door scared them off, as our desktop computer was moved and partially unplugged. They didn’t get our external hard drive, which housed all of our photos. Everything they took was something that could be replaced.

However, it was scary. My husband couldn’t get a flight home that night. When bedtime, albeit much later than my kids had been going to bed, rolled around, the questions came about what the perpetrators would have done if we were home. I didn’t want to lie and say that that would not happen, so I explained that most burglars do not want to be caught so they won’t break in if someone is home. As I was explaining this, I was also preparing for battle. I left all of the outside lights on. Most of the inside lights were on. I brought spray bottles of homemade cleaning supplies into the master bathroom, set the phone by the bed, brought in my son’s bow and unlocked the case ready for me to grab, and barricaded the bedroom door. I then proceeded to stay up all night while my children slept around me, listening to every tiny sound in case just in case the people came back. My husband grabbed the earliest flight home the next morning and we all hugged each other.

Since then, we have worked to make our home feel safe again. We have made changes to our home to make it more difficult for someone to break in. Most importantly, we have done everything we can to show our children that we will do whatever it takes in order to protect. Our children should feel safe and it is our job to make that happen. Home should be safe.

However, many, many children do not feel safe in their own homes. Many are the victims of abuse, while others are afraid for reasons that do not legally qualify as abuse. I can tell you that living in fear is not healthy and it does not lead to optimal growth, something which most parents want for their children. It is stressful on our bodies and minds, and limits us in learning and resolving conflicts. Ruling through fear by way of hitting, yelling, or other punishments does not provide that environment. It’s our job as parents to provide the safe environment for our children to learn and grow.

NPN Blog Blitz: The Best of Babywearing

I am proud and honored to be a volunteer with the Natural Parents Network (NPN), a community of natural-minded parents and parents-to-be where you will be informed, empowered, and inspired.

When you visit the NPN’s website you can find articles and posts about Activism, Balance, Consistent Care, Ecological Responsibility, Family Safety, Feeding With Love, Gentle Discipline, Healthy Living, Holistic Health, Natural Learning, Nurturing Touch, Parenting Philosophies, Practical Home Help, Preparing for Parenting, Responding With Sensitivity, Safe Sleep, and so much more!

Today I would like to share some bookmark-worthy posts that highlight all aspects of babywearing. These posts were featured on the personal blogs of the Natural Parents Network volunteers and are some of my favorites.

We hope you enjoy reading these posts as much as we enjoyed writing them. We are always looking for new volunteers so please, contact us if you are interested. Just a few hours per month can help other mamas in a huge way!

Benefits of Babywearing/Reasons To Babywear

Types of Carriers/ Choosing A Carrier

Babywearing Safety

Babywearing How-Tos

BabywearingToddlers/More Than One Child

Personal Babywearing Stories and/or Photos

Babywearing Series/Multiple Topics

Babywearing – Other Interesting Topics

A special thank you to Erika Hastings of the blog Mud Spice for creating and sharing her babywearing art with the world!

Conflict as Opportunity

I’m happy to share a guest post with you today. Kassandra Brown of Parent Coaching speaks of how conflict can be an opportunity. In addition to sharing her thoughts here concerning how we can turn conflict into a way to both connect and better understand our children and ourselves, Kassandra has a special coaching offer for readers. She is willing to offer three free coaching sessions to the first person who asks. Consultations are always free. If you are looking for a way to change how you communicate and interact with your children, she is willing to help.

*******************************************************************

When children disobey parents, parents are often told – by experts and other parents – that a Time Out is the solution. We’re told that our children need consequences. We’re told it’s a good idea, and it will give them time to think about what they’ve done. We’re told if we’re not firm, then we’re permissive and our children will never know discipline.

togetherYet here at Parent Coaching, we have a different opinion. Abandonment is one of the biggest punishments known through human history. To be kicked out of the tribe and made to be away from the protection of the rest of the group is an awful, sometimes fatal, punishment. This is the premise that Time Out is based on. If the fear of being isolated, alone, and ostracized is great enough, then a child will learn whatever rules parents or society say are ‘right’.

Leaving baby alone to cry in a crib, or sending a toddler or older child away in disgrace for a time-out can seem like you’re not doing anything much and it may be better than spanking or hitting. But it is not harmless. It is psychological warfare and adults are much better at it than children. We use the power of more words, longer sentences, and more complex arrangements of our thoughts and feelings into ideas that manipulate better and make isolation sound just. No wonder our children stop listening and pull out big hammers like “I hate you” when they don’t get their way.

I believe most parents want their children to be happy and safe. I believe most parents want to be happy and safe themselves. And I believe the biggest obstacle to being more effective and compassionate with our children is our own unfelt pain. For me, this happens when the unmet needs, the old hurts, and the developmental sequencing that never happened get stimulated by my child’s needs. I don’t like these old hurts being stimulated and I want to make the stimulation stop. My child’s crying, whining, and wailing pleas are the stimulation. If I send my child away the stimulation will stop. Making the parent’s pain stop is another part of the foundation on which Time Out rests.

What can we do instead? Try a Time In. When conflict happens, welcome your own feelings and your child’s feelings by gathering together. Our family often sits on the couch for a Time In. We sit together. Often my children don’t want to come and sit. They still want whatever it is they want – the game, food, or activity that stimulated their longing and that they think will satisfy them. But if I sit quietly, or my husband and I sit together quietly, eventually the girls come over and sit with us.

Once we’re fairly quiet, we take turns talking about how we’re feeling, what we want, and what we just did. I often use reflective listening to let my children and spouse know they are heard and to get clear on what they really wanted me to hear. A Time In is a time to come together and acknowledge the pain we’re feeling when one of us cries or yells. It is a time to share what each of us needs and wants. It is a time that often leads to more feelings of trust and safety in our family. It is not a magic cure-all, but sometimes it feels like one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Kassandra Brown is a mother, parenting coach, yoga teacher, and friend. She recently moved with her family to a rural ecovillage in Missouri where they are creating a life of radical sustainability and emotional honesty. Three free teleconferencing calls introducing parent coaching will be happening with her this September. You’re invited! Read more of her writing at Parent Coaching’s Blog or connect with her on Facebook.

Conflict: A Course of Life

Conflict is a course of life, occurring whenever two parties have different agendas or different perceived agendas. What matters is not the conflict itself but how that conflict is resolved.  Parents don’t have to resort to win-lose methods with either the parent or child winning while the other loses. When parents work together with their children, everyone’s needs are met and noone loses. By meeting everyone’s true needs, the conflict ceases to exist rather than escalating in continued attempts to meet the unmet needs.

I’m Not Raising Corporate America

Photo by Justin Lowery

I’ve often heard parents rationalizing punishments and rewards by citing the real world. When the kids grow up, they’ll be in the real world. In the real world, they’ll have to get a job and then, they had better be prepared. Punishments and rewards are everywhere, in the real world.

This misses a key point. I’m not raising Corporate America. I’m raising my children. So, while some day they may find themselves in a corporate position faced with a choice to make, right now they are children living their lives. I don’t run my family by Corporate America’s values – to gain as much money (i.e. reward) as possible, often at the expense of others. And frankly, if my children are ever in such a position, I hope they look beyond the immediate reward and follow what they know in their hearts is the right thing to do – not because of someone else’s beliefs or because of some extrinsic reward – but because they are following what they believe.
In Corporate America, a person can make the choice to walk away and leave. They voluntarily choose to be in that position to earn a wage with whatever consequences go with their choices. Except in rare occassions, children do not have the choice to leave their parents and family of origins in order to find a more suitable position should they deem it necessary. Arbitrary punishments and rewards only exacerbate that parental power. If you want to compare punitive parenting with the work force, a more likely comparison would be with slavery. There is no chance of leaving besides running away with the hope of not being found.
Most of us look for jobs that are rewarding. However, that reward generally isn’t the almighty dollar. The most rewarding jobs are the ones where people are doing what they enjoy intrinsically. A few companies recognize this. Google is a prime example of this, despite its huge size. Employees at Google have a voice in matters. Recognizing that happy workers are more productive workers, Google strives to provide an enjoyable work environment rather than trying to control its employees.
At the end of the day, however, work isn’t all there is to life, and most people would say that their relationships are what really matter to them. Rather than trying to control our children with punishments or rewards, we talk to them – like the people they are. Sure, some of the people in our family are smaller and younger, but these are still relationships. And the last time I checked, we are living in the real world.

Rewards: the Other Edge of the Sword

Photo by Lemsipmatt

Behavioral training uses punishments and rewards in order to extract desired behaviors from the subject in question. Numerous studies support that the use of punishment in children, regardless of whether or not the punishment is physical in nature, has detrimental effects. Besides dissolving the connection between parent and child, punishments do not help the child to do better or improve the behavior. Many parents deem this to mean that they should rely on rewards instead. What they fail to realize, and what research also  supports, is that rewards are merely the other side of a two-edged sword.

It may seem benign to offer a reward in order to get a child to do what we want. It seems simple enough. However, by offering a reward for a specific behavior, you are simultaneously offering a punishment in the form of the withheld reward in the event that the desired behavior is not produced. Regardless of form, they both heavily involve extrinsic motivation – fear of punishment or the hope of a reward – in order to coerce others into behaving in a certain way. Behavioral training does have its place. Used short term, it has helped many people change habits. Used as an extrinsic tool to aid an intrinsic desire, behavioral conditioning has its benefits. However, B.F. Skinner, the founder of behaviorism, along with other noted researchers in the area such as Ivan Pavlov, were adamentaly against the use of behavioral therapy as a parenting technique. Long term, behavioral conditioning erodes a subject’s reliance on intrinsic motivation. Eventually, when the reward or punishment is no longer offered, or no longer is considered substantial by the subject, there is no longer motivation to continue the desired behavior. Reputable behaviorists do not recommend punishments or rewards as the basis for a parenting system.Lack of intrinsic motivation has aided in many monstrosities over time. When people rely on fear or rewards to motivate them, they are less likely to stand up for what they believe in or to have a strong sense of values. They are more easily manipulated and swayed by others. Some parents may view this as a positive side effect, but that opinion generally changes when the parent is no longer the figure the child turns to for extrinsic motivation. Children who are raised without extrinsic motivation are more likely to have deeply held personal beliefs and to act upon those beliefs, regardless of what other people may think.

Pirate Diplomacy

Photo by Tai Gray

It was one of those idealistic parenting moments. I was in the kitchen washing dishes, and all four of my children were happily playing together in the living room.

The game of the moment was a pirate one, and there were plenty of giggles amidst the “Arghs.” In one of my glances, I saw my eight year old wielding a foam sword in perfect form. Another time, my three year old was proclaiming to be the Dread Pirate Roberts (I’ve mentioned we are a family of bibliophiles). The throw pillows morphed into a gang plank and the fish in our aquariums were hungry sharks.

As the climax of the game approached, I heard something that made me pause. “Send in the baby! He won’t harm her.” I had to laugh at my son’s use of diplomacy.

setting limits…

There is a difference between wanting to know the limits of another person’s acceptance and of having another person set a limit on one’s self. The difference is where the power lies. If we enforce our own limits, we exhibit self-control and encourage and enable our children to do the same. When we attempt to limit another person, we are attempting to control them; that in itself is both impossible and unhealthy.