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The shift away from traditional parenting - Part II

How can children be expected to demonstrate values that aren't modeled for them?

Traditional parenting seeks to control children by breaking them of unwanted behaviors and training them to obey their parents, many times for the sake of convenience.

There is little in the behavior modification model that serves to teach children about their feelings or the appropriate social cues that everyone is hoping they learn. Instead it ignores the messages children are trying to communicate in favor of dominating their feelings and evaluating their actions.

When are we simply breaking the child's will and when are we breaking her spirit?

And is there really a difference?

The ideas embodied in the old parenting paradigm, while rejected among most development experts and educators, are still quite prevalent in the minds of American parents.

It's a hard fact to swallow. Most parents do not want to believe that they are (however unconsciously) impeding the healthy development of their child's self-esteem, autonomy or emotional intelligence. Nor would they dare suspect that they are actually contributing to their child's less-than-pleasant behaviors or eroding the efficacy of the parent-child bond by demanding that their children “do as they say.”

We cannot continue to parent from fear and expect different results, blindly ignoring the insight and understanding that we have gained in the last twenty-five years of study.

But how do we change years of ingrained ideas about raising children?

We can start by erasing our inherited beliefs about children, parenting and families in general. The needs of babies and children are quite clear.

1. Emotional attachment and acceptance
2. Unconditional love and support
3. Modeling and consistency

These are the most powerful "discipline" methods available to parents.

Beware of parenting techniques, discipline models or books that offer one-stop, cure-all solutions or advice that is guaranteed to work for everyone. The only magical fix is beginning to faithfully support parents and nurture children.

Parenting is a long, delightful, treacherous, scary journey with no perfect outcomes but you can incorporate the new parenting paradigm and become a conscious parent. Stop taking your child's behavior so personally and end the fruitless seeking of that bag of tricks you hope will solve all your troubles and discipline dilemmas.

It’s not out there.

No one formula is going to work for every family. It is imperative that you to the take time to heal your own childhood wounds on the road to discovering your true parenting ethic. (Re)learn what it means to parent authentically, commit to evolving as you let go of fears and self-imposed limitations, take time to acknowledge feelings and then assemble a set of values and actions that best suits your family’s needs and desires.

Read Part I - "The shift away from traditional parenting."

Lori Petro is a Mom, Children's Advocate and Speaker. She is passionate about transforming our world through conscious parenting compassionate communication, and peaceful conflict resolution.

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