I just finished a book that every parent should read – Respectful Parents Respectful Kids by Sura Hart & Victoria Kindle Hodson, PuddleDancer Press, Encinitas, CA, 2006. It is based on the work done at the Center for Nonviolent Communication. This center is an international non-profit organization founded by Marshall Rosenberg, an American psychologist who created “Nonviolent Communication“, a communication process that helps people to exchange the information necessary to resolve conflicts and differences peacefully.
Key premises include:
- co-operation is achieved through mutual respect, and
- your needs and your children’s needs must be valued equally.
Parents sometimes act as if co-operation is one-sided. Children are supposed to agree with parents because parents know best. So parents issue orders based on their time frame and standards, ignoring the child’s very real thoughts, feelings, and needs. Barbara Coloroso in Kids Are Worth It, Somerville Publishing, 1995 referred to this as “Brick Wall“ parenting.
If you believe that children learn to mimic their parents’ behaviour, then “Brick Wall” parents should not be surprised when their children adopt “Brick Wall” tactics and ignore the parents’ thoughts, feelings and needs. No wonder that later in life, adult-to-adult communications suffer because one or both, parent and child, are unable or refuse to understand the other’s thoughts, feelings, and needs.
You can tap into a lifestyle of mutual respect and co-operation if you are willing to do the following:
- Look at your assumptions about children
- Develop and practice the skills that are at the core of respectful parenting
What does “respect” mean?
To respect another person is to look attentively at what they are experiencing – especially their feelings and needs at that moment; and, then, to esteem or value these feelings and needs. You may have to suspend your point of view, desires, and judgments in order to better understand the other person’s needs.
What does “co-operate” mean?
Merriam-Webster defines co-operate as “to act or work with another or others : act together or in compliance” or “to associate with another or others for mutual benefit”. Synonyms are : band (together), collaborate, concert, concur, conjoin, conspire, join, league, team (up), unite, make common cause, play ball, pull together
Too often we issue orders to our children based on our time frame, agenda, and standard – after all we are the parents and know best. When we neglect to consider our child’s thoughts, feelings, needs, and possible solutions, we do so at the risk of losing their respect and goodwill.
How can parents have the most influence with their children? Is it by lecturing, criticizing, judging, and demanding? How do kids really learn? What if it’s by observing and mimicking how we behave and live our values?
The next few posts will discuss more of the good ideas in this book.
“What we are teaches the child far more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become.”
Joseph Chilton Pearce, Author of child development, compassion, and spirit books