What kind of future do we desire?
“We seek a world of liberty: a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and are not forced to sacrifice their values for the benefit of others. We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized...We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose...Individuals are inherently free to make choices for themselves and must accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.”
So what does this mean for parents?!?
It means acknowledging that as parents we can’t expect obedience from our children. Obedience is submission to an order, request, law, or to another’s authority. As an educator and parent, I struggle with expecting obedience. Obedience often comes with the expectation that children will listen with no questions asked. I am not comfortable teaching children to simply submit to something just because it was commanded. I believe that while I am currently guiding children, I am actually raising up adults – adults who I hope someday have a solid moral compass of what is right and wrong, an ability to mindfully and respectfully challenge authority and laws when they are unjust, and a healthy respect for those who are worthy. The ability to discern these ideals is not gained overnight at the magical age of 18 as our society leads us to believe. Rather, they are skills that should be practiced and fine-tuned over a lifetime, beginning at the youngest of age.
But...but...I still have things we need to do to keep a peaceful household and function as a family. So how do I get my kids to voluntarily listen (goals, right?!?) For me, this means that I expect compliance within the family. Compliance is a disposition to yield to others. It hinges on cooperation, the process of working together to the same end which requires appropriate discussion and problem solving. Cooperative compliance is part of a healthy, respectful relationship where everyone feels heard and everyone works together to meet everyone’s needs.
What does this look like in a parent-child dynamic?
Like all relationships, it balances on respect. In our mainstream society, respect with children is often seen as synonymous to obedience (respect your elders), though they actually have very different meanings. At its core, to respect is to admire (someone or something) for their abilities, qualities, or achievements. By this definition, respect is earned based on the person’s character, skills, or accomplishments. To elicit respect as parents (or people), one should demonstrate high regard for the core components of healthy relationships:
~Safety and limits
What is the downfall of peaceful parents?
Finding ways to both gently and effectively guide our children through their many stages and phases is arguably one of the biggest challenges parents face. Without appropriate boundaries and limits, parenting can become permissive. Permissive parenting is NOT peaceful parenting. If our children don’t honor the core components and learn to respect the personal boundaries of others, they internalize a self-centered and entitled mindset. They want what they want, disregard other’s needs, resist requests and are often less than cooperative. Undesirable behaviors and attitudes means frustration and tension builds for those around them (which doesn’t lend to peaceful sibling relationships or enjoyable parent-child relationships). As parents, when our frustration peaks, we reach our personal limit; We snap and become punitive or harsh in our reactions. Snapping leads to guilt and guilt leads to a mustering of a little more patience and the cycle begins again. Until our frustration rebuilds and we snap again...
So how do we break the cycle?
How do we remain peaceful and gentle yet hold healthy boundaries and set reasonable limits without snapping? How do we establish a healthy lifelong relationship with our child? It is my intention to help you feel confident and equipped to successfully do just that.
If we want to raise the next generation to be compassionate, free-thinkers- we need to teach our children to engage in healthy relationships and to treat others with humanity. Which means, we need to take the time to set the example in our own home!
Engaging with each other as fellow human beings means BOTH the adult and the child are human and both have needs and wants. Those needs and wants must be balanced in a fair way for everyone in the household. It means teaching children to respect fair boundaries and limits as you meet each other's basic needs then prioritize wants. It sometimes means helping them meet expectations, supporting them through hard/big feelings, and holding space for them until they are ready to engage in the problem solving process together.
To do this, we should:
~Show our children the importance of engaging in honorable interactions with others.
~Value healthy, non-violent communication and problem solving together.
~Teach the importance of respecting personal boundaries.
~Allow our children to have personal autonomy to the greatest extent possible (safe and age-appropriate).
~Utilize natural and logical consequences when our children need help honoring personal boundaries and reasonable limits.
~Stand back and let our children accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make (even when it’s hard to bear witness or offer support.)
~Support our children and equip them with coping skills to express a full range of emotions in healthy ways (teach them to appropriately manage the anger, disappointment, and grief they will experience in life- sometimes just because life can be hard, sometimes through consequences for their actions and sometimes even at the hands of your own personal boundaries/limits.)
As a peaceful parent, the only thing you should be inclined to control is:
~Your actions and reactions.
~How you communicate reasonable expectations, boundaries and limits.
~The logical consequences you may need to implement (it is your responsibility to make sure they are truly appropriate and logical consequences- related, respectful, reasonable and helpful.) Whenever possible allow natural consequences to happen over imposing logical consequences.
~Communication and problem-solving (because it is through participation in peaceful communication and problem solving that all other issues can be sorted out). The Red Light model provides the structure to work through that process together.
With the Red Light model in action, YOU can pave the road to a more peaceful future...And the Hive Village is here to help!