Sunday, November 1, 2009

Parenting in Awareness by Doreen Fisher


Using awareness to deviate from learned parenting behaviors.

I remember the very moment that my daughter was born barely 9 years ago. It’s not a moment most mothers would ever forget, but I remember my exact thought…”It’s time to grow up – today.” It’s not that I felt overly immature at the moment just before that, but the immediate knowing that this tiny being was wholly dependent on me and would grow to learn from my every move was cathartic and intimidating at the same time.

A rush of emotions and thoughts came in despite the fact that I had just given birth -- a beautiful, natural, gentle birth, but exhausting nonetheless. I knew at that very moment that it was up to me to break a long history of common parenting styles with which I did not intend to follow. I had no idea just how difficult that would prove to be. Generations of habits, repeat behaviors and semi-conscious parenting were deeper in my psyche than I knew or cared to admit. As my daughter grew and my son was born, the daily stress of parenting brought out the very reactions that I swore would never escape my lips; they fell out or were just barely caught in the nick of time. I quickly learned two important things: 1) I was parenting by design; and 2) it was going to require 24/7 awareness if I was going to succeed in gentle, respectful and non-violent parenting.

I recall one story that my daughter always asks me to repeat. I’m not sure why she likes this story, but it’s almost as if she is reminding me that I’m doing okay and making right choices. My husband was on the road touring with a band and complete exhaustion was becoming a normal existence for me. My newborn son had just been released from NICU with a heart defect and he and I were both decompressing from a bit of ICU psychosis. Needless to say, sleep was a rare treat. I was making dinner and took out some tater tots and put them on the cookie sheet on the stove. My daughter got angry at me because she wanted to eat them out of the bag (she was 3), so she reached up and yanked the cookie sheet off of the stove and the tater tots went flying. I had an immediate reaction and reached my up hand preparing to spank her with about as much force as I could muster when (as if in slow motion) I had a last minute awareness of what I was about to do and instead scooped her up and gave her a big hug. I was shaking and crying. And she was laughing. She gave me a big hug and never knew how close she came to becoming yet another child victim of corporal punishment.

I knew at that moment that it was possible to change the course of history and make new decisions in how we parent our children. I know that the abused grow to become the abuser, but I also know that this is a choice. But, it requires awareness - awareness and intention. We must first set the intention to parent in a gentle, loving manner. Every day I wake up and tell myself that I’m going to parent with love and patience and listen with an open heart. Every night I go to bed and forgive myself for anything that slipped through. And every day, I take responsibility for my actions, make amends for any actions or words that fall outside the scope of what I consider loving and gentle (holding myself to a high standard on that definition) and acknowledge to my children when it was me, not them, who brought out any transgression.

Doreen Fisher is a musician, home educator, business owner and philanthropist. She lives in Dallas with her husband, their 2 incredibly intuitive children, Sammy the cat and Tibblett the bunny.;;;

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