I just finished reading the new classic alternative parenting work Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming parent-child relationships from reaction and struggle to freedom, power and joy, and let me start by saying, “WOW!” This is a great read and I am so glad that I came across this title and asked my library to borrow it for me. Not everyone will agree with the author’s message or her methods, but I think most of us would say that we want to enjoy a peaceful and joyful relationship with our children, and at least this book offers some ideas of how one can reduce or eliminate the need or desire for coercion or other means of controlling these pint-sized human beings in our care.
I’m still processing the ideas I read about in this book, but I’ve been surprised over and over by how one little change inspired by this book has lightened things up around here. Those two little words that have changed everything? Oh, no! Yes, they are “oh, no!” Accompanied with exaggerated begging and exasperation, they have transformed situations where I could have nagged, corrected, coerced, or physically prevented them from doing something, into opportunities for us to connect, be lighthearted, and share the absurdity of worries about the “small stuff”. For example:
- When the kids begin taking frozen items out of the freezer: “Oh, no! My Brussels sprouts! What will we have for dinner! “
- When Peter “steals” my toiletries bag when I’m packing: “Oh, no! How will I brush my teeth? They will rot out of my head!”
- When John takes the hat off Peter’s head: “Oh, no! He stole your hat! What will you do if your head gets cold?”
It is so easy and natural to want to pack your bags without interference, or to be able to cook dinner without wondering if a misplaced bag of frozen chicken carcasses will get forgotten in a couch cushion. But instead of providing tension by trying to force them from doing things that I wouldn’t do, even if it is done in the most peaceful, redirecting, and gentle way, we’ve been laughing and playing. Hopefully, I’m teaching them what I’m learning—-that little things are not worth bothering about and that enjoying each other as we are is more important than making sure things go my way.
But what about those Brussels sprouts, toiletries, and hat? After a few times of my “pretend” over-the-top antics of putting them away and begging the children not to touch them again, they tend to stay right where they “belong.” But regardless, my children are right where THEY belong in those moments . . . laughing with mama and knowing how important they are to me.