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Being Authentic With Our Kids

By Brian Leaf

 

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A few years ago, I was in an eye exam for my son Noah. The doctor wanted to get drops in Noah’s eyes and he was frustrated that Noah did not want to sit still. So he commanded me to hold Noah down while he put the drops in. Noah was crying wildly. I was taken off guard by the doc’s order, so I did it. I held Noah down forcibly, against his will, while the doctor put the drops in.

 

Noah moved on pretty easily, thrilled to play with toys in the waiting room while his eyes dilated. But I felt terrible. I was sure I could have found a less violent way to help the doctor get the drops in. I had overpowered Noah physically and I felt I had betrayed him.

 

I was beating myself up. But then a friend reminded me that my job as a parent was not to model being perfect, but to model being human and compassionate and open.

 

When we got home, I apologized to Noah and told him that I would never do that again. Which I think is valuable. I don’t need to model getting everything right. That would be too neurotic. It’s OK to mess up. I just need to model taking responsibility, apologizing for my mistakes, and forgiving myself.

 

 

About Brian Leaf

 

Brian Leaf is author of the yoga memoir, Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness. You can find him online at www.misadventures-of-a-yogi.com.

 

 

photo credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net

Comments (3)

Yes! You are quite right about this. There have been times when I've been stressed and overreacted / overpunished when my kids were toddlers. Especially with the first one (they say you make the most mistakes with your first.) I also have a tendency to put the needs or wants of other adults before those of my kids', out of consideration. I'm working on being a bit more assertive for my children's sake. If a doctor is a bit too forceful and/or impatient with my kids, for example, I might consider changing doctors.
I get the sentiment the author is conveying here, but am not convinced that particular story is a good example. Just a couple of days ago, I was in an almost identical scenario except it was my daughter and her ears. AND the doctor was a French doctor (their bedside manner is vile generally). He picked and prodded at her ears to pull the wax out that was obstructing his ability to look inside to ensure there was an infection. She wailed and writhed in agony. This was one of the times I had to trust that someone else did have her best interest in mind and that took more strength than to say stop that.
I have always focused on connection parenting, and I have a 3 year old and 1 year old. My 1 year old has a condition that requires tons of interventions including casting on both legs, x rays, frequent ultrasounds and blood draws.
My first daughter was almost never sick, has only had meds twice in her life (abx one time for three days, motrin - 2 doses ever). We are dedicated to natural health, chiropractic, and healing through lifestyle and diet.
And I feel this article is missing a big part of what connection parenting means to me and a lot of other special needs families I know.
Sometimes, our kids need medical care. It is our jobs as parents to show them they are safe. That the intervention, even if it causes discomfort or even pain, is safe. It's great to apologize for your mistakes, but it is really difficult to go through life being afraid of medical treatment and doctors. Showing our kids that these people are trying to help, telling them, "I hear you don't like this, it doesn't feel good, your body hurts, but you are safe, it will be over soon, you can do this" gives them the option to feel safe.
I may be wrong - this is just how I approach it. Of course I'd rather not have any medical interventions of any kind with my daughter. However, she would never walk without severe pain and probably would've died at least once without them.
Bodily autonomy is vastly important. It is at the forefront of my mind in most of my parenting choices. But there is also the general feeling of trust and safety. If I were a child, and my parent were distressed and afraid during necessary medical treatment, I would have more anxiety. If they were calm, confident, and listened, I might be able to face the challenge feeling supported and loved.
Again, I'm not saying the author is wrong. Her feelings are totally valid. I just have a different experience that I thought worth mentioning.
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