An image came to me as I was co-leading the Yoga of Parenting Workshop this past Saturday with Hala Khouri. I was about to begin the circle of conversation for support in parenting when I noticed a malfunctioning pipe in the exposed ceiling. Two pieces of metal were attempting to join together but were completely severed and mis-aligned. I saw the pipe immediately as a metaphor for the family system when it’s out of alignment. Just as water couldn’t flow through this broken pipe, “bedtime,” “mealtime,” and other daily functioning is strained when the family system is mis-aligned.
There are many ways to set yourself up for success as you spearhead the family activities. One of the first ways to experience smooth sailing has to do with offering a frame of reference to your children that you are all in this together.
Rather than you “making them do something,” your request of them is what is necessary for your family to function and therefore to thrive.
One analogy that can be helpful to work with to set up this collective vantage point is the image of the boat. The family is the boat and in every moment you can ask, does this action or behavior float our boat or does it sink our ship?
We are going to read a book for bedtime. Little brother begins to sing at the top of his lungs. Does this float our boat or sink our ship?
Momma is making dinner. Big sister pulls up a stool and asks to peel the carrots. Does this action float our boat or sink the ship?
We are getting ready for preschool in the morning. Momma asks little sister to brush her teeth and brush her hair. She throws her hairbrush on the ground and screams, “No!” Does this sink our ship or float our boat?
It’s time for dinner. Daddy has prepared the meal and has asked big brother to please set the napkins. Big brother picks up his game-boy and begins another game. Does this float our boat or sink our ship?
As you talk about various scenarios your child(ren) will start to see the pattern. They will begin to recognize their own participation in creating ease or stress in family life. This collective frame of reference downplays the “us” (parents) against “them” (kids) in parenting and aligns your family for behaving as a unit, working together to create smooth passage through the waters of daily life. This takes you out of the position of blame and shame, and more into the role of team captain. Go team go!
P.S. A reader wrote in and I feel compelled to add an important p.s. which is this technique is not meant to sweep the child’s needs or wants under the rug; when they scream or throw the brush, they are having a need or want and they are attempting to get your attention; I advocate for all family member’s being heard and attended to; this technique is meant to be done BEFORE you are in the “hot” moment; giving your children an overview of the daily situations you encounter, and illustrating what is helpful and not-helpful; tangentially, we give our children tools for direct communication to get their needs met; honoring your child’s needs often involves a pause or compromise in the agenda; fluidity…to make the ship sail!
About Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams created L.O.V.E. Parenting with a series of techniques for effective communication, deepened connection and more joy in parenting and life. Jessica is also the creator of www.UltimateParentingCourse.com with the best of today’s progressive parenting experts together in one program. Jessica is a featured expert internationally on both Mothering.com’s Ask An Expert and the upcoming www.KidsInTheHouse.com. Jessica is a regular contributor to Mothering Magazine’s All Things Mothering, LA Parent Magazine, LA Mom Magazine & DailyBuzzMoms. She has been interviewed on television and radio and taught workshops at family wellness centers, schools and doctor’s offices. Her BirthKit has helped women have a transformational & empowering birth. Jessica maintains a private coaching practice in her native Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and their three children. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.”—Carrie-Anne Moss. “All you have shared has helped tremendously.”—Lisa Bonet. “I am experiencing nothing short of a miracle thanks to your laser beam approach.” –Andrea Bendewald.