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seeking like-minded parents, feeling on the fringe

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
my husband and i parent differently than (from? i can never remember which) almost everyone i know, and i would love to find/form a support group with like-minded parents. every once in a while i read a voice on these boards who seems to be following a similar philosophy, and i'm hoping to make some supportive connections here.

it's hard for me to describe our parenting succinctly, it feels equal parts instinctual and intellectualized, but if any of these statements fit your style/theory of parenting, i'd love to hear from you...

we see our jobs as helping our children to grow into their full potential, however wacky and wonderful that may be, not to help them fit into society...

we try to minimize the limitations/boundaries we place on them, to give them as much opportunity to explore and learn and to minimize their frustrations...

we view behavior problems as symptoms of an underlying distress and try to focus on understanding and helping the child to cope with what is causing her to feel the need to act out.

we try to model and teach self-discipline instead of disciplining...

we assume that they learn best through absorbing our modeling, rather than hearing a steady stream of corrections from us...

we realize that to parent well we need to constantly attend to our own personal growth, to see clearly our reactivities and understand their roots...

we leave them to work out disagreements with playmates and siblings until/unless someone is about to be hurt or has lost emotional control...

we let them make their own food choices, although we talk about what is healthy and what is not healthy fuel...


if i had more time i could probably come up with additional examples. i'd love to hear what others would add to this list...
eagerly awaiting replies,
susan
mother of a 4 yo dd and a 1 yo ds


edited to add:
my interest in such a group would be to create a resource for brainstorming parenting solutions and to have access to other parents' experiences and successes. i run into situations from time to time where i'm not sure i'm responding in the best way.
post #2 of 31
Where do I sign? Hi Susan! You must be tired of me following you around :LOL. I believe there's a discussion on mindful parenting in another forum--which I only have time to lurk around once in a while. Would love to participate in an age-specific brainstorming group.

Your parenting mission statements are wonderful--and very much what I would like to work toward as Isabel's needs grow and change. I've always said all I want to accomplish as a parent is to help her become the person she is--to give her the tools she needs to prevent any external situation or person from taking that away from her. And it is a very fine line because I could very easily be that external person if I made different parenting choices and were unable to give her the positive model you describe. I really believe that my/our life with her will become the mirror of her interactions later in life--if our interactions are respectful, loving, honoring--then those are the sorts of interactions she will seek out once she leaves us.

So everything I do with her now is with a mindfullness of how that will affect her future. Sometimes I'm just incapable of maintaining a high standard because I've allowed myself to become depleted--but at least the awareness is there & I'm pretty much able to regroup quickly. Having support during those times would be very helpful.

What I want more than anything is to cultivate my ability to remain present. I really think that would solve any challenge I might face. To really see her, hear her, be with her--as opposed to needing to move things along so that I can accomplish xyz--which of course usually ends up creating a pointless power struggle.

I could go on, but I'll leave off here and see what others have to say.
post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 
hurrah! i was hoping you'd show up, lee!
yes, age specific solutions are what i need too. it wasn't too hard for me in the first couple of years but this year from 3-4 has really stretched me and i'm sure there's more to come.
and i can't maintain my standards always either; i get too exhausted, physically, emotionally, creatively, and i end up blowing it and blowing up. i apologize as soon as i can and hope that she is learning more from my second example than my first :
i'm hoping someone out in mdc land can tell me how, for example, they view the behavior of and respond to the toddler who refuses to be set up for independent play and instead screams demands for your attn when you're exhausted and desperately need a short nap in with the baby, who is going to wake up screaming himself if she doesn't cut out the bansheeing. that sort of thing.
oh, and by the way lee, i re-posted this in the gentle discipline board, because i realized that was really a better place for it. so you might want to check there for responses.
great to hear from you,
susan
post #4 of 31
That sounds very much like what I aspire to as well. I question sometimes whether dh is on board with me, but he usually comes around. I like to point him this direction when an issue comes up and he needs to see the light. I would love additional support in an age-specific/developmental stage-specific group.
post #5 of 31
These sound like my philosophies too.
Right now I'm struggling with the no correcting them part. I have control freak tendancies. : I like to correct in terms of teaching them to communicate better, ie- use words instead of whines/demands. But I would like to let go of my 'how you do something' corrections.
Anyway, my son is about 3 1/4 so we I would fit into that age category.
post #6 of 31
Wow- thats what we aspire to. But sometimes I wonder if we are even coming close. Mostly we try to follow Eli's lead- and boy does he lead...
Anyway- I would love to learn more from you folks-
jeanie
(who seems to follow Lee around...)
post #7 of 31
No jeanie, I follow you around!

Hi sueami ! (I just met susan and her two little ones IRL and they're super nice folks!)
post #8 of 31
You guys are awesome! I can really relate to so much of what is written here. I would love to find support and IDEAS too!! My ds is 3 1/2 and is really energetic and needs A LOT of attention. Sometimes it is hard to give it ALL the time. We have tried so many things...thank goodness my baby is easy-going and independent ...

Jen
post #9 of 31
Hey there,

Your parenting philosophy mirrors mine.
There are a lot of great women here who will have much advice for you...unfortunately, I only have one child at the moment, a fiery red headed 3.5 yr old, whom I am deeply connected with.
I don't have a lot of problems that the moms have with two under 4, or multiple kids for that matter....(though, I REALLY wish I did..) anyway, best of luck to you.
Sounds to me like you are an AMAZING mother, and I am sure you will find mindful parents here! I will be watching for your posts, to give any imput I may have....

Peace,

Mamasoleil
post #10 of 31
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
post #11 of 31
Sueami:

I find your ideas succinctly expressed and much in agreement with my own aspirations if not actions. Might I respond to some of your points and add some of my own as a means of starting a discussion.
Quote:
we see our jobs as helping our children to grow into their full potential, however wacky and wonderful that may be, not to help them fit into society...
Yes. I didn't want to supply replacement parts but better versions who might contribute to society not by bolstering numbers but with new attitudes and sensibilities. This is a really hard thing to do with major corporations and the culture in general trying to create better consumers not people.
Quote:
we try to model and teach self-discipline instead of disciplining...
I try this too. discipline in speach, conduct, everything I can think of. It seems to me so important to have self-discipline. What can you accomplish if you cannot control yourself, if you cannot make yourself do something your moods would rather avoid.
Quote:
we assume that they learn best through absorbing our modeling, rather than hearing a steady stream of corrections from us...
This is the core of my parenting too. There can be no, "Do as I say not as I do." I find it has a major drawback though. Just as when two people watch the same movie and disagree on why people did things and who they were, my actions, my modelling, is interpreted by my children not as I think it will but through their own model of life and the world. Much of what I'm modelling, after all, is how to parent - whatever I'm doing in regards to the children. I've always tried to model the importance of parenting through attentiveness, being in the home, readiness to help etc.. I think it has affected them as I wished but I also think it gave them the sense that they were the center of the universe - they became "spoiled" too I think as they experienced me modelling parenting. By helping them I thought I modelled helpfulness and a sense of contributing to the community (family) to which they belong. They learned that they should be taken care of and that someone else wll do it and i can see how I "taught" them that as I focused on them. How do you know what your children "see" as they watch you. I've begun a different model as a parent, one who helps by bolstering their own self-control while showing some myself. Speaking of self-control I guess I've shot my chances of being succinct.
Quote:
we realize that to parent well we need to constantly attend to our own personal growth, to see clearly our reactivities and understand their roots...
Also extremely important to me. It's a wonderful model and I think you can't be perfect and you can make mistakes, lots of them, but if the kids seen the effort and struggle to change you, as a parent get an "A" for effort.

I also think that there is a contract between parent and child, like a marriage contract, that the parent will be a continuous model and guide on how to live. If you do not grow yourself, when the kids get olde, you stop being a model; you become a manikin. I think teens are just slightly rebellious and that parents of teens have broken the contract and are pushing the kids away in a way. Teens have watched the original "TV season" of your parenting-program and the reruns several times. If you do not come out with a new season with some new shows you're going to be turned off.

And to add something, I feel I should try to form a strong community consisting of the parents of the children my children know. Peer pressure has strong effects and one way to effect that pressure is through strong ties with the parents of the peer group. Those parents also have thier own insights and opportunities to "see" my children and I theirs.

"Human models are more vivid and more persuasive than explicit moral commands." ~ Daniel J. Boorstin
post #12 of 31
I agree so much with the personal growth thing. I was just talking to dh the other day. We acknowledged that one of the hardest things about parenting is knowing that you didn't quite handle something right, but not knowing exactly what you should have done. But half the battle is seeing yourself objectively, and then seeking advice through books and people... like you guys.
I work hard on my self dicipline. It's hard work.

And I love the idea of raising a kid who will be a critical thinker. Minimal tv, and lots of honest talking help towards this.
post #13 of 31
sueami has a really nice approach with her 4 yo dd--I know it will foster critical thinking. Whenever she (her daughter) makes an observation, sueami asks something like "why do you think it's that way?" or similar. I thought that was really cool and put it in my mental file.
post #14 of 31
Thread Starter 

how exciting to hear all these voices!

i'm so glad to find other parents trying to parent in this way. there are so many times i have wanted to run a situation by someone and ask for suggestions. in my circle of family and friends the suggestions often just don't apply to the approach we're taking.

lisa2s--sometimes my dh balks too, but it sounds like we're both lucky that our husbands are open minded. and yes, age specific advice is what i'm seeking too.

mamarosa-- the correcting thing i understand also. i found myself doing that a lot with my dd, now 4, when she was maybe 2. i think because she was so sensitive, i noticed her shutting down when i'd do it and it helped me to be mindful of the impact that frequently correcting her actions was having on her.

hi jeanie -- i follow lee around too! she seems to have just explored every exciting new path i discover on these boards and beyond. and like mamaoui, for me there are days i feel like i'm a great mom and i've got it nailed and there are days when i think, oh brother, i'm ensuring the future employment of some budding psychologist out there. i'm appalled at what comes out of my mouth when i'm frazzled, tired and not able to find my center.

hi jen, so glad you found this thread! isn't 3 1/2 such a voracious age? i'd love to hear how you're coping...

mamaoui and mamasoleil, i'm glad to know you're here. i've enjoyed reading both your posts in other threads and i'm very interested to hear what you might offer.

cumulus -- such a thoughtful and thought-provoking post! that's exactly what i was hoping for. i'm particularly intrigued that you're finding that modeling attentiveness alone is having unintended consequences. we've also struggled with that, or at least something similar. i'm going to re-read your post and respond in more detail a little later. i'm taking so long with this reply (because i'm trying to keep two kids entertained) i'm afraid my computer is going to crash and lose it all.

mamarosa -- personal growth : yeah, this whole parenting business constantly pushes me to try and figure out why i'm reacting and over-reacting to this or that situation/behavior. and that's a good day. a bad day is when i don't even realize i'm reactive. sometimes i feel like by the time i get it all figured out they'll be grown and it will be too late!

and lee, thanks for saying that! i had such a good time in your company. you have a wonderful energy about you. and isabel is beautiful and spunky. she's clearly blooming under nurturing hands.
well, this is long enough and i have little ones to attend to. i'm so glad you're all here!
susan
post #15 of 31
Sweet Sueami...

Looking forward to getting to know you!

Keep on keepin on!

Mamasoleil
post #16 of 31
Hello! No time to write now but just wanted to say that my 15 month old Serenity and I are definitely on board! I feel like printing out your words and taping them to the fridge! It is sweet to hear about other parents attempting a similar way of life and love. And good to pause now and remember that dd is as you all expressed a sovreign being, whose unfolding I am privledged to guard and witness.
post #17 of 31
Thread Starter 
okay, baby is napping, daughter is, i hate to admit, watching a video: it's clifford, at least.

cumulus, to revisit your experience:

"I've always tried to model the importance of parenting through attentiveness, being in the home, readiness to help etc.. I think it has affected them as I wished but I also think it gave them the sense that they were the center of the universe - they became "spoiled" too I think as they experienced me modelling parenting."

you mentioned that you've changed your parenting in response to this. what do you do differently now? i'd love to know.
here's the situation with us that seemed similar to me...
six months ago or so, in the middle of adjusting to a new sibling, we realized that maddie seemed to be dictating our every waking moment, wanting one of us to be completely attentive to her. i'm trying to be conscious of my wording here, because i can't say for sure what was going on with her developmentally. but it felt like she was ordering us around constantly and tantrumming when we resisted, sometimes out of control, sometimes more deliberate seeming. we were really getting frustrated and questioning our parenting approach.
we started saying no to her dictates, as we perceived them, and got a lot of meltdowns, exhausting all involved.
it didn't feel right but neither did letting her run the show.
what we finally came up with, and it felt much better, was to say no two or three times but if she seemed bent on losing it if we stood our ground, we decided to explicitly model flexibility.
we'd say, for example, "i don't want to keep drawing animals for you to cut out because i'd rather clean/make dinner/read/whatever, but i can see this is very important to you, so i'm going to go ahead and do three more."
this didn't produce an instantaneous change but things got much easier over the next few days and weeks. i can't say why with certainty (it's possible her behavior just played itself out and passed. i've noticed that happens without my having to do anything with certain behaviors) but i think this approach worked.
is this in anyway similar to what you are talking about?

also, i wanted to copy a post from robin-ma from the gentle discipline board, where i also posted this thread.

"I'm like you. You might find the Taking Children Seriously Educational Theory a refuge. I do.

Here is a copy of the intro to the site

TCS is an educational philosophy. Its most distinctive feature is the idea that it is possible and desirable to bring up children entirely without doing things to them against their will, or making them do things against their will, and that they are entitled to the same rights, respect and control over their lives as adults.

www.tcs.ac

They also have a list serv which is great!"

i remember coming across this site a couple years ago and being really intrigued by it, briefly exploring it and wondering how it could possibly work, it seemed so out there in philosophy. i'm going to revisit it as soon as i get a chance. i wonder if my impressions will have changed.

(hi mamasoleil )

peace to all,
susan


edited to add:
emily, as i posted this i saw your new post at the bottom. welcome! what a beautiful way of describing parenting! it actually made me tear up... i can't wait to hear more from you!
post #18 of 31
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post #19 of 31
Yes Sue, that is very good advice about 'I'd rather... but I'll do this for you.' It lets them know we are our own people and our world doesn't completely revolve around them (well, really it does, but that includes making them dinner and doing their laundry, which they might not yet see as important things we do for them. lol)
but, it lets them also know we love them and care about them enough to meet their needs.
I am expecting #2 any day, so this is good for me to remember. Although similar situations come up already.

It's also releaving to hear that other parents who intend to be very loving and diplomatic and open and rational etc, with their children, can lose it and act like jerks too. I hope we can figure it out before they grow up. Or at least get it right more often than not, anyway. Or at least get it right often enough that they can see we are trying and respect us for it.
post #20 of 31
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