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July 21, 2008


Parisienne Mais Presque

Excellent! When I got to your "every moment is this moment" I teared up. Le Petit has just turned one and I'm seeing time pass so quickly. We've just crossed the threshold to toddlerhood and all that entails, and I'm going to be listening with great interest to all you have to say in your next posts.

We haven't hit the power struggles and tantrums yet -- I think he's a bit on the young side still -- but the discovery and joy, oh yes! We went down the slide for the first time at the park today. Played in the sand, too. Figured out how to pick up bits of food off the high chair tray and put them back in the jar. I don't know if this all brings back memories for me or what, but this age is so much fun for me. I can't wait to see what he does next...


After a long day of adventures, there was a normal sibiling scuffle in the back about something stupid (whether the infant carrier hood should be up or down?). I was starting to referee but instead just had a big sigh and "You guys wear me out." Somehow, they pulled it together and dropped it. Who knew that would work?

As far as strategies for tomorrow today - there are so many recurring themes in my experience. "Use your words" issues, handling transitions or disappointment, and "because those are the rules" seem to be main themes. All three are still active with both the 5 year old and the 14 year old - different content, but the same basic problem.

I think you're right - feeling like you're being heard (or helping to put the feelings into words) goes a long way, no matter what - either through interview processes like yours or active listening. What I've seen happen (and probably what I've done too) is that the parent wants to be heard and understood first (or isn't communicating to the child that they have some inkling why the child is upset), and that just doesn't work very smoothly at all.


So here's a question: Do you worry about them doing things just to make you happy?

What I mean, of course, is that I worry about my kids doing things because it'll make me happy. It seems like such the quintessential codependence paradigm -- making them responsible for my feelings. As adults, I want them to be comfortable, willing, even driven to meet their own needs and wants.

How do you balance that, the need for them to learn that it's OK, even desirable, to be 'selfish' in life with the need to put them to bed, to get them off to school in the morning, to make them do things they aren't in a place to see as necessary?

FWIW, @Cathy: I have the very best luck with my two (4 and 2 1/2) when I tell them I trust them to work things out themselves.


@Jan: The Non-violent Communication Method works to find solutions that meet everyone's needs. And while this isn't always possible - it doesn't mean that we're asking the kids to make us happy. We also have to let go (sometimes) of solutions that can meet both of our needs at the same time - usually one need will get met first (and it's often the kids) - and then they're willing to help us meet our need.


As long as everyone's needs are expressed clearly, honored, and handled out in the open, it seems to work.

I've dealt with codependency issues, and this feels different. The lack of mind reading, and the lack of an established role, help. Mr G's 'job' is to be himself, whether that is being empathetic or being 'selfish'. Yes, it helps me, but I ask, I don't demand and then punish if not met. It's actually quite hard to release the underlying message that when I ask it is a requirement, period, comply or else. At the same time, there are things that must be done because they must be done - getting to bed, getting up for school, etc. If he's taking responsibility for communicating the needs, and I'm taking responsibility for communicating the needs (and I was - frustrated voice notwithstanding on that event, I said clearly what I needed - underneath the feelings - and what I wanted, and why). I remain responsible for my own feelings, for communicating them, and for dealing with what is offered in return.

I have a friend whose family assigned her (without discussion) the role of peacekeeper, and they freak out every time she declines to play. They also have someone who is the anger outlet, and someone who is the denier, etc. Nobody gets to have a full range of emotions, needs, desires, and at the same time, nobody can speak that this is true - when they say so, the rest band together to try to force things back into the old pattern. That's codependency in a nutshell. In this, I attend to his fear, anger, frustration, joy, success, love, delight - everything in the range. And he responds to mine, as well. The degree of acceptant responsiveness is vastly different. ...

And yes, I still watch for codependency. This is not a job or a role or an exclusive territory. He is not responsible for my anger, or my guilt, shame, or fear. I am my own outlet for those, and I am responsible for them, and must make choices about what is for sharing and what is not.

It's in essence very like Quaker Meeting for Worship. One waits on the Spirit, for a message. But one doesn't share every message willy nilly, nor does one share only one kind of message all the time. One has to wait, think, be open, acceptant - determine if the message is for me alone, or for sharing. Determine if it is for sharing now, or for sharing another time. Likewise, the 'wrong' way to do NVC or any form of active listening is to dump everything every time, leaving the other party to sort it out. In this case it takes self-empathy, to oneself, a pause to consider if this needs to be shared, do I want to ask for empathy from my children, or do I only need empathy from myself, or do I need empathy from another, like my husband. It's a meta-cognition function, thinking about thinking, feeling about feeling.

If I only dumped all, shared all, it would be a mess - and yes, everyone would feel responsible for my feelings all the time, and I would be abdicating responsibility for them myself. I'll admit as an extrovert I sometimes don't know what I feel until I say something out loud... but I'm working on the skill of figuring out what needs to be expressed to others, and what does not. As a choice. Which makes it a lot harder to make it codependent.

All that said, ANY method - active listening, non-violent communication, therapeutic interaction, what have you - can be used as an emotional weapon. It's our responsibility to see to it that it doesn't fall into a comfortable pattern that ends up being abusive in a more subtle way. It takes a lot of honesty and open eyes to stick with that.

So, short form - not worried, per se, but always watchful and aware.


Thank you so much for this. A new mantra I will surely adopt, Parenting for Tomorrow. I'm sure this will serve to bring me back to the present moment and out of either reactionary mode or quick fix mode.


This. Is. Perfect. "Parenting for tomorrow" will be my discussion with hubby tonight for ways we can incorporate that in our parenting styles. :-)

Goddess Babe

If you are looking at purchasing any of the Non-Violent Communiacation materials, there's a kick butt sale right now. If you are so inclined, nonviolentcommunication.com (Puddledancer Press, the NVC publisher) has a sale on the entire library of 19 books and booklets for $99 +tax & shipping.

I bit. They took a long time to ship it though, so I will have waited at least two weeks until it arrives.

I am really eager to start working with the NVC parenting stuff. I've seen Hedra talk with my Miss G (and her Miss M, Miss R, Mr B, and Mr G), and it's pretty freakin' amazing stuff!

So, shop if you will!


Thank you for the great tips! I agree with you when you say, "Parent for tomorrow, not today." Very true. I came across a great website that teaches these very concept www.loveandlogic.com . Love and Logic provides simple and practical techniques to help children make good choices - adults have more fun and less stress while raising responsible kids.


@Becky, I'm not sure how Love and Logic can be construed as Parenting for Tomorrow. Don't they advocate spanking? Which absolutely cannot be used when they're bigger than you. That doesn't fly at all. Plus a lot of the extremes of sarcasm, Nth-degree 'natural and logical consequences' (like letting a child go hungry at school), and other coercive-based methods just don't seem to fit what I was talking about AT ALL.

Yes, their goal is 'to have a responsible child tomorrow' but you lose the entire point of the second question when you talk to parents about behavior. The first is 'how do you want them to behave?' - Love and Logic addresses that. But the second question is 'why do you want them to behave that way?' - because I trained them to? because they know they'll be zinged with a snappy comeback that leaves them ashamed and angry and powerless? Or because they embrace helping others and know how good it feels?

Does it mean it doesn't work, or hurts every child it is applied to? Absolutely not. The kids with the low dopamine response (about 30% of the population) might not notice the negatives, and might benefit from some of the positives. And every parent is going to use it their own way, and not all of them will go to the mean-spirited extremes in order to vent their own anger. But why bother with that when there is another method? And if you don't know if your next child might be more sensitive to the dopamine process, might feel the attitude and response and coercion deeply, might be cut to the quick by the cocky, 'nice try' when they're trying to get their needs met... eh, nope. Not on my list. There are plenty of other methods that cover the same ground with lower risk, IMHO.


To Hedra,

Everything I have read so far, pertaining to "love and logic," pointed to exactly the opposite- using choices that are not considered child abuse (spanking, sarcasm, starving a child). There may be parents who take this to the extreme and use these as consequences, but they are completely distorting the entire idea of the program.


That's good to know. I'll put the book on my review list, and see what I think after a close read.

I admit there are some programs that I think get used extremely, and this and 1-2-3 Magic are two of them. But I guess it ties back to the issue of philosophy, too - if your parenting philosophy is gentle, warm, democractic, etc., you'll use almost any program more effectively (per research, anyway) than if your parenting philosophy is expressing your issues, emotions, and control on your child.

Count me chastened. :)

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