Traditionally, obedient children, meant good parenting………the aim was to train children/people to make life as easy as possible for the adults around them for the most part and force them to become the people we want them to be before they are ready to make those choices for themselves. There was also some outdated idea that children need to be punished in order to ‘learn to be good people’ and ‘being good people’ again, meant obeying immediately and without question……….personally, it seems completely ludicrous to me that we need to hit, shame and control someone in order to teach them to be kind, considerate and grateful. Anyway I digress, obedient children, meant good parenting…..however that was achieved.
Obedience is NOT a measure of worth or successful parenting in our home. Instead, we are raising children who ask questions and who are free to become themselves.
Respectful parenting allows parent and child to be on the same team, builds connection and confidence from a place of security, belonging and unconditional love. This, in turn, allows things like morality, gratitude, helpfulness, kindness, loyalty, and co-operation to develop intrinsically instead of to please others/ avoid punishment or gain reward. Asking for obedience is counterproductive. Fostering a connection, mutual respect, consideration and allowing children to see real examples of the above characteristics means they can become THEMSELVES and adopt values that are important to them as individuals.
Respectful parenting IS NOT permissive parenting. All family members have boundaries, including parents. We do not seek to never influence our children, we do not sit idly by while our children physically hurt each other or others, we might make suggestions and support them in making educated decisions and of course, we keep them safe. But we avoid arbitrary rules. And when you avoid arbitrary rules, you find there aren’t many rules that aren’t arbitrary. 😉
It also means that the BIGGEST and most SIGNIFICANT changes need to happen at the parent level……usual attempts and methods to control are cast aside and replaced with mutual respect and the same consideration you would offer any adult, which is not common in our society. Unlearning generations of punitive and reward-based parenting, an insane amount of personal development is required to consistently role model to our children our most cherished values while accepting and supporting them right where they are at, allowing them to be children and trusting that these values will develop over time, not because they fear punishment, but because they have become their OWN VALUES.
I know sounds tough right? It is and how great is that! Self-development is ALWAYS challenging, but what better motivation could we have than the happiness and growth of our children AS WELL AS our own happiness and growth? PLUS imperfection is also a beautiful thing to allow our children to see and experience. How we handle ourselves when we lose our shit, have our own tantrums and cry in our morning coffee is an opportunity to show them real-life resilience, perseverance, self-love, and forgiveness. 😉 Respectful parenting is a journey for everyone.