For some time already I wanted to share my discoveries on parenting that make my life better.
The day I gave birth, my doctor told me that many people would come to me and tell me how it is best to raise my child, but that I should believe in myself, because maternity is in our genes, and instinctively, we know how to care for our children.
That sounded encouraging, and for another half an hour or so, I felt really good. That’s until I had to change a diaper, dress my newborn for going home (outside a chilly fall day) and all that under the terror that the remains of the umbilical cord might break! As my baby was the first newborn I ever kept in my arms, I did the best job I could do. However, the stress and the constant concern of whether I’m doing things right made that first week to be one of the longest in my life!
Now, while that stage has passed, new challenges appear. Most of them push my buttons really hard! Sometimes I feel like screaming, to get out of me all the tension, stress and exhaustion, but I do my best to refrain in that moment, so my child wouldn’t be hurt. Still, I need to take out of me that tension, even if not in the moment it is boiling.
I noticed that when I’m under pressure – and I should behave as a good parent, I downgrade to a state that is coded in my “auto-pilot” mode; that way of reacting is largely formed during my childhood. Then, I was often screamed at, laughed at, beaten and bullied. I cried, I defended myself, I shout back, sometimes felt like a victim and other times felt like a warrior wanting to change everything and take back at everyone.
While my childhood and that phase passed, now, with my child, I’m put in a position that makes me face that again, from a different perspective. I now experience how it is to be the parent that (potentially) enables a child to have those reactions. And I want to choose a different attitude and approach, an honest one, a sustainable one, that I can learn over the years, so that my child experiences more love, acceptance and support than I did. Okay, maybe I’ll not manage to show him approval at all ages, despite of what he choses in life. But I do want to give him chances to deal with something brighter than I did.
When pondering about this, I received an advice from a friend from high school; she was close to giving birth to her second son, while her oldest is 4. This friend of mine had a similar experience as a child growing up. When we met with our families, I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed the way she was talking to her son David, how she dealt with tantrums, how she allowed him to be a child while also guiding him. Her advice was for me to read a book, that she said that transformed the way she perceived crying, tantrums and the challenges of raising children.
So I read it. I can say now that I am so thankful to have had someone recommend me this book. It helped me feel like I’m on the right track with raising my son and that in fact, I’m not losing control when he is crying.
While reading this one, I got recommendations from the author to go through some of her own resources, and this way, I found another book that I now keep on my bedside table and I read a few pages before going to sleep.
Only three books and I wish I had read them before I had my son; that could have spared me many self doubts and worry about his well being.
So here they are:
- Aletha Solter: Tears and Tantrums
First of all, the author is a renowned psychologist who studied with who studied with Jean Piaget in Switzerland before earning a PhD in psychology at the University of California.
Mother of two herself, she wrote five books for parents, that have been translated into many languages.
Okay, I will disclose the central information of this book, which is the following: for babies (and children) crying is the most effective way to release stress and tension. Crying can be good – and she has extensive research to back up her statement. You need to read in order to understand. You deserve this, so can have less sleepless nights and your child deserves this, so you can better help her.
Personally, I can confirm that the success of her books is based on the fact that her approach really works! Also, I like that she doesn’t promote punishing children or violence in any form.
This is a book that is applicable to babies from as early as a few months old, until the age of approximately seven years old, when children gather a minimum of emotional control over their own life.
She shows how the key to raising a healthy human being – both physically and emotionally – is to treat the baby with respect. That sound good, right? I know your next thought: only if it would be that easy! Well, she offers practical solutions for applying that, from as early as infancy!
To me, it was a real relief when I read about this, because it can be so frustrating and stressful to have a baby crying and not knowing why!
By reading this book and analyzing the environment where you are raising your baby you can understand how to react, how to calm a baby crying and how to deal with a 2 year old that rolls on the floor screaming that the cookie is broken! You can find this book on Amazon.
- Thomas Gordon: Parent Effectiveness Training
Thomas Gordon was frequently quoted by Aletha Solter so this is how I chose to research this book. This is a classic, being published for the first time in the 70’s and having numerous editions reprinted to date.
P.E.T. – Parent Effectiveness Training is more than a book now, it’s a movement. Thomas Gordon designed this program in 1962 and due to its success, it rapidly spread all over America, giving parents and children a better way to live their lives.
If you will only take one minute to search on Google something about Thomas Gordon and his Parent Effectiveness Training, and find how many enthusiastic reviews there are out there!
The author has even been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, thanks to the accomplishments of his work. His core message to us, parents, is to give up the authoritarian approach and treat our children with respect and love. Sound pretty basic, right? It’s like karmic giving: what you give now is what you’ll get. Still, how easy do each of us apply this simple principle? Not many, because we don’t have respect for our children on autopilot (while some of us for sure have respect for strangers on autopilot).
So if, at any point in your life, you realise that you just treated your neighbour or your coworker with more tolerance and respect than you just did to your child, make time and read some. You can find the book here.
3. Adele Faber, Elaine Mazlish: How to speak so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk
This is a book that I discovered simply by going on Amazon and looking for titles with most 5 star reviews on Child Care and Parenting.
I downloaded the audiobook and “left it to rot” on my Audible app for months. At one point, its time had come. I started to listen to this while chopping vegetables and preparing dinner, one Sunday. Then, I listened some more while I was dusting the house or watering the plants.. You get the idea. I had little time for reading once my son was born, and I discovered that listening to this audiobook was at the same time relaxing, useful and extremely revealing!
This is a communication how-to that will help you raise a happier child, and one that you can actually speak with, not speak at. The authors offer solutions for children that are lazy, unmotivated, for princesses and even for teenagers. Yes, it is not all lost with theenagers!
What shocked me while listening to this – and this is why I think you should listen or read it yourself – is how rich in examples that is! The way they set the context for talking to your child, the techniques they proposed seemed so good to me! I had never been talked like that by my parents! I even thought that such parents exist only in movies – the dream parents. Those that do not insult, make fun of, punish, scream at you or treat you as less than a worthy human being when you make mistakes.
In the end, I purchased also a paperback and I’m going through it and highlight techniques I should practice more, because I want to become the best parent I can be. Me and my children deserve that.
Tell me what you think, if you read that or something similar. What was most effective for you?