Your real job as a parent

There’s a line in the breastfeeding video I use in my classes (Baby-Led Breastfeeding by Kittie Franz) that goes something like this: “Don’t think: ‘I need to get her to eat,’ think : ‘I need to get her to calm down.'”

After about the 50th time listening to that line along with my students, I had a revelation: that’s the best approach to anything you’re trying to get your child of any age to do. Get the shoes on the toddler? Have the teenager finish his homework? You’re not going to get far with a lot of tension in the room and one–or both–of you screaming.

That’s all well and good, but until I found a tool to help me do this, it was just a wild dream. There are many possible approaches. The one that works for me is Hand-in-Hand Parenting, which emphasizes listening and connection. I felt drawn to a method that focuses on encouraging rather than insisting–while still maintaining firm boundaries.

This is a radically different view of parental authority than the one many of us were raised with and can take a lot of getting used to. But if you think ahead to the day when you won’t be right beside your child to cajole, bribe, insist, and browbeat her into doing something, the idea of helping her to stay calm and centered so she can make the best decision for herself begins to seem quite reasonable. Of course, you’re not going to let the baby starve… but you can bet that the calm baby eats more than the one who’s upset!

–Audrey

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