Five Powerful Shifts to Transform Your Parenting - MetroFamily Magazine
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Five Powerful Shifts to Transform Your Parenting

by Renée Boone

Reading Time: 5 minutes 

Those of us who follow various parenting experts on social media, listen to parenting podcasts or read parenting books have likely come to the same conclusion: there is no “magic pill” for parenting.

This realization can feel really defeating. If there’s no right answer, then what on earth are you supposed to do to have the parent/child relationship you imagined when the child half of that equation was just hypothetical? On the flip side, “no right answer” can be the freedom we need to be the kind of parent we have always wanted to be.

You can have a deep, fulfilling relationship with your child without compromising your values as a parent. You can end the power struggles, stop yelling, teach your values, establish effective boundaries and create a relationship with your children where they come to you with their challenges, fears and struggles because they trust you. You can have that relationship because you are already the world’s foremost expert on your child.

But there is a bunch of extra stuff that keeps us from relying on our expertise and listening to what our child truly needs. Getting rid of the “stuff” – or at least moving it around so it takes up less space – is the work that transforms our parenting.

It’s not about being a perfect parent. Perfection is not the goal; connection is. Building the family life that we dream of takes time, patience and a willingness to “mess up.” Plus, a lot of self-compassion. Information very rarely creates change. Implementation, practice and patience creates change. These five shifts are just the starting point on the journey to empowered parenting.

  • Shift 1: All emotions are valid and can be communicated peacefully. There are no “BAD” emotions.We live in a world that tells us that some emotions are wrong, bad and dangerous. We are often taught to mask big emotions from a very young age. This lesson lives with us through adulthood, depriving us of important life skills and coping mechanisms. We hold in our “bad” feelings until they overcome our willpower and spill out in overwhelming and often harmful ways. Learning to be with ALL emotions is vital to experience the full beauty of life and to effectively communicate with those we love.

    We can discover how to parent from the heart, rather than just the head, through empathy, active listening, consistent attunement, non-judgement and holding intentional space for emotional processes. Emotions are our internal system’s innate and ingenious messenger. Allowing ourselves to feel all of them allows us to accept all of them, in ourselves and in our children. From this place, we can learn the skills of communicating our emotions, anchoring ourselves in safety and feeling calm in the face of our children’s big emotions.

  • Shift 2: All needs of the members of a family are equally important. 

    Most families have conscious and unconscious dynamics that perpetuate the false narrative that either 1) only adults matter and children should not have needs or 2) that children’s needs matter more than parents and we must be perfect and serve them at the detriment of our mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Let’s dispel those myths. Children and adults are BOTH complex people with vast needs. The goal is to create a family system model that regards the whole humanity of each person involved as equal and deserving of wholeness and care.“Bad” and “disrespectful” behavior is an attempt to meet an unfulfilled, and often unconscious, need. This is true for children and adults. The exciting news is we get to be curious about what our children are telling us through their behavior! We learn to speak and embody that seemingly foreign language of human universal needs, how to meet them, how to grieve when they are not met and how to lead a family in the direction of abundance. There is more than enough space for all family members’ needs.

  • Shift 3: Empowered communication is sharing your needs without blame, shame, anger or guilt.To grow in the direction of empowered parenting, we must learn to find our voice, identify our communication patterns and understand our feelings, needs and wants. Many of us are stuck in cycles of blame, shame, anger and guilt because that’s how the adults around us controlled our behavior when we were children. Plus, we internalize all the messages from social media, the parents around us, our families of origin and our own narrative of what perfect parenthood means. When we don’t feel like we measure up, we feel defeated.

    As a collective society, we are just now understanding the consequences communicating with our kids using shame and projection and learning about alternatives. When you embody the skill of conscious communication, you can speak from your heart, free of shame, blame, unhealthy aggression or unconscious guilt. You can be a safe harbor for your child while still being authentic and honest.

  • Shift 4: Connection and play deepen relationships with your children.Let’s celebrate the fantastic truth that the best nutrients for a healthy connection are laughter, play, spontaneity and presence! Trust flourishes through deep and intimate connection between parents and children.

    Conceptually, most parents are eager and willing to celebrate this truth with us. Put into practice, however, many parents freeze. There are internal and external obstacles to play and presence with our kids. We can revel in the neuroscience behind the profound power of play and still meet parents where they are now in their relationship to play. How can you as a parent cultivate a sense of trust and faith in the power of healing storytelling, empathetic role playing, active imagination and attachment play?

  • Shift 5: Move from punishments & consequences to communication & connection.We must understand the difference between boundaries, limits and expectations, and discipline, punishment and control. Both can yield the same outcome: kids who have a clear understanding of how to be good people, but with very different costs. When you exert control over a child you are setting up a power struggle, cutting off connection and communication, undermining the child’s sense of self-worth and confidence (“I am only loved when I fall in line”) and often (because strong emotions are involved) creating a breach of trust with a child.

    Peaceful parenting is NOT permissive parenting. Quite the opposite. You get to make clear decisions about your values (which can evolve over time!) and set boundaries and expectations that support those specific values. You also get to interrogate rules and boundaries that aren’t serving your family or are just leading the power struggles. Is this rule connected to a specific value or is it an inherited expectation or fear-based boundary? When combined with natural and logical consequences and collaborative problem solving, values-based expectations can truly change your family.

Renée Boone is a certified parent coach in private practice at KindHeart Parent Support & Coaching and a single mom to two beautiful and unique souls, ages 6 and 10. In addition to parent coaching, Renée is a musician and music educator with degrees in music therapy and sacred music. She believes all children deserve to be loved and guided by the best version each of us has to offer them as parents. Renée offers one-on-one coaching, group coaching classes and workshops. If you are feeling alone in parenting or feeling like there has to be a different way to do this, you can reach Renée at kindheartparenting@gmail.com or kindheartparentsupport.com.

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