Peaceful Parenting: What? An expert shares this parenting style
As we all know, parenting can be challenging. Lately, we’ve been hearing about the Peaceful Parenting Revolution. What exactly is this? Does it make yoga more/burning sage? We are not kidding because you might automatically be curious when the word ‘peaceful’ is associated with parenthood. We connect with parenting expert and author of a new book The Peaceful Parenting (R) evolution Kiva Schuler, the Founder and CEO of The Jai Institute for Parentingwhere Kiva trains parenting coaches to help parents parent with compassion, balance and communication.
What is the Peaceful Parenting Revolution?
In today’s chaotic world, there is a need for a very different approach to parenting. One that helps parents and children create a lifelong bond by accessing emotional intelligence, thoughtful communication, and an understanding of our children as developing people. Peaceful Parenting (R) evolution reinterprets the way parents support their children as they face the complex challenges of this world.
The real change advocated by Peaceful Parenting advocates is for parents to shift their role from disciplining to being our child’s teacher and guide. Traditional parenting strategies such as punishments, arbitrary consequences (meaning the consequence is not directly related to what our child did wrong) and “tough love” are not necessary to teach children to values, boundaries, rules and morals.
Now, more than ever, our children need us to be their safe haven, knowing they can count on us to support them through life’s challenges.
If we give the children what they need, they will give us what we need. Shifting to Peaceful Parenting creates a family system where each person’s feelings and needs in the family matter, and families thrive.
How do parents (unintentionally) carry their generational trauma into their parenting?
One of the biggest myths about parenting is that it “comes naturally.” But what comes naturally is affected by the way we are raised. Especially in moments of high-stress, overwhelm, fatigue or conflict.
Our emotional reactivity is the result of the culture we experience in the home we grow up in. Whether you avoid conflict at all costs or you’re always ready for a fight, you probably learned this from your early environment.
If you grow up in a family of naysayers, you naysayers. When you grow up in a family that thrives on silence, you flow. Bad conflict strategies create disconnection, irritation and have an effect on our nervous system, keeping us in a constant state of fight or flight.
Left unchecked, we pass these poor communication strategies on, generation after generation, even if we want to act differently. The good news is that we all have access to something called neuroplasticity. This means that with intention and practice we can learn new ways to interact with our children, and break any generational cycles of harm that affected us as children.
Is it possible to change your parenting style with older children?
One of the things we often hear from parents is “I wish I had this information when my kids were young!!” But in reality, it is not too late to improve the relationship with our children, even if they are teenagers or adults. This requires three things:
The first step to regaining trust and connection is being willing to speak the truth and the truth of our past knowledge. It takes a lot of courage. But for your child to hear – from you – that you are aware of the mistakes you have made and are open to listening to their experience lays the foundation for a new relationship to emerge.
2) A willingness to listen without getting defensive
Defensiveness is a natural response to shame. But it serves its purpose, and creates a wall between people. It helps to think of yourself as an interviewer in these reconstruction conversations. Ask lots of questions! Things like:
“How do you feel?”
“How did you feel when ____ happened?”
“Tell me more.”
“How do you want things to turn out?”
You may notice a tightness in your chest or a rise in the heat in your face. Just breathe and resist the urge to dismiss, explain, justify or provide context. Just listen.
Let their words sink in. The simple act of being prepared just listen a gift that will make your child happy. This is exactly what they have been dreaming of the whole time. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if your parents were willing to do this for you?
When our children grow up they have gathered a lot of evidence about who we are and how we treat them. Healing relationships takes time. It may take several of these empowering conversations over months or even years to heal the relationship.
In my book I share a story about a very difficult experience I had with my own daughter when she was 14 years old. It makes sense for him to be mad at me. But I was stuck in believing that I was doing the right thing because of my own fears and beliefs. When I realized what I had done, and used the framework above, it took almost a year for him to come back to me with an open heart. I am so grateful to have the support of one of our parenting coaches at The Jai Institute for Parenting, because I now have an amazing connection with my daughter.
This experience strengthened our relationship. We learned to trust, listen and forgive each other. This is the foundation of intimacy that I believe all parents want for their children.
What tools can new parents have if they lack a foundation/understanding of peaceful parenting?
One of the biggest misconceptions about Peaceful Parenting is that it is permissive parenting. Effective peaceful parents set boundaries, set rules and have expectations of their children’s behavior.
The difference is that we do not use any tools of manipulation, shaming, punishment or threats to instill these valuable life lessons in our children. The idea that we need to inflict pain and suffering on our children in order to teach them to be good people defies logic. Strategies of power rule perpetuate much of the suffering we see in the world.
We don’t need to look at the children to see that they are not working. We can look at adults: how we judge other people… or become people pleasers because we know this is the way to meet our needs when we are children… the power.
So the first tool is to recognize that the power strategies of traditional parenting cause unnecessary pain. Next, I recommend just being curious Why we believe that we should treat our children this way so that they can learn. Is it possible for them to learn the same things without compromising the trust and connection in our relationship with them?
We can be perfect parents in peace without compromising our role as parents.
5. What principles do you use in your parenting?
As the founder of a Peaceful Parenting institute, I feel incredibly fortunate to have these tools as I raise my children. They are 16 and 18 now, and I get to reap the rewards of doing the work of becoming better people in the name of raising good people. I would say these are the core three principles that guide us through:
I trust that they can come up with solutions for their challenges. The way kids learn to make good decisions is by making decisions (and sometimes bad ones!). So I will not save them from their challenges. I learned to talk less and listen more. And to step back to make room for their confidence to grow.
Children can do anything if we tell them the truth. They are incredibly intelligent and clever, if they are given the chance to be. Our family has experienced our share of hardships, from divorce and financial struggles, to illness and death. I have learned that being direct and honest with my children about what is really going on allows them to feel safe and respected.
Being a parent is not an easy job. That’s why it’s important to remember to make as much time and energy for fun as possible. Whether it’s impromptu dance parties in the kitchen or one of my favorite family activities: a quick cleanup of the kitchen after dinner (can we do it in less than six minutes?!!) these moments strengthens my relationship with my children and fills our cups for the more challenging situations that arise.
The Peaceful Parenting (R) evolution: Changing the World by Changing the Way We Parent by Kiva Schuler is available now! Get your copy online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.