Parenting: Calming Down and Growing Up

In the previous blog, we addressed the idea that parenting is about parents, not children. In keeping with this idea, and now that we all have employed our metaphorical remote control, we have had the opportunity to calm our parenting anxiety and ourselves. Moving on…

When we are calm, we are setting an example for our children. We are modeling the behavior that we value… we are showing our children that we are in control of ourselves, which ultimately is the only thing we can control if we are to be effective and connected parents. When we become “un-hinged” and allow our anxiety to take over, we are creating the very outcome that we are hoping to avoid. That outcome is disconnection from our children. No matter how much we would like to believe it, our children (and anyone else, really), cannot “make” us angry – that is up to us as parents – we have a choice.

Where does that take us? When we can stay calm and connected, it takes us to a place of parenting that is about influence, not control. Let us take a peek at  three readily identifiable parental attitudes and see how they address remaining calm and connected:

Authoritarian parenting is cold and controlling. This style of parenting is less nurturing and involved. There is little to no encouragement for the children to self-express, and parental power is used freely. What happens to children in this unsupportive and harsh environment? They become withdrawn, insecure and apprehensive. They react with hostility or regression when under pressure. Calm? No. Connected? No.

Permissive parenting is warm and uncontrolling… basically the opposite of the authoritarian parent. With little parental involvement, there are few consequences and less training on how to live independently. These parents may use love to manipulate, as there is no consequence-based learning in these families. The children from this environment are lacking in self-control and self-reliance, remaining dependent on others and often times, demanding. Calm? Maybe. Connected? No.

How are we doing so far? Neither of these sound very appealing, do they? Let’s move on to the third parental attitude:

Authoritative parenting takes the warmth from permissive parenting, and some of the control from authoritarian parenting, and combines the two. These parents stay connected with their children by staying in control of themselves… they are consistent, loving, secure, and supportive. They communicate with the child, instead of communicating at them. They allow their children to make mistakes that have logical consequences, and are there for their children to greet them and love them, despite difficulties (remember the Circle of Security from a few weeks ago? Yep, that’s what that looks like). These children arrive into adulthood more self-reliant, content and possessing self-control.

The takeaway? When we can control and calm our parental selves, remaining connected to our children, we are able to establish a relationship that is parenting at its best… as with the gaming system, it is “Wii”, not “We”. It is a relationship with two individuals, which is why there are two “i’s in the Wii…. You, the parent is one “i”, and the other is your child. When we calm ourselves and grow up, we can begin to have this relationship with our children.