This is a tough post for me to write because I am not a parent. However I do plan to be and I like to think about parenting as though I am preparing for a test. I want to learn as much as I can and be prepared to make the best choices I can. As most of you probably know I work in childcare and in the past 6 months I have been able to observe some very interesting bits of parenting. Even though these are just glimpses into these peoples lives, it helps to remind me of what my expectations of parenting really are.
Everyone will have their own goals from parenting, their own expectations of their children. For me, parenting is about guiding more than ruling. As a parent you want to guide your children towards happiness and a fulfilling life. I want my children to be safe but still have the opportunity to learn from experiences so they can make choices for themselves. I also don't want to get hung up on my children growing up how I want them to, I want my children to grow up and do things that they want to, the things that will make them happy and fulfilled.
However for me the line of letting them determine what they need is drawn where their behavior negatively affects others. My class is filled with children that hit, pinch, bite, spit, kick and push each other if they don't get their way. While they are only five and haven't had a lot of years to learn from experience, I am disheartened by children whose parents don't feel the need to help their children learn. For them it is get disciplined or get away with it. There isn't really any interest from the parents of why did my child hurt someone else? or do they understand why they shouldn't kick or punch? They simply go to punishment.
How confusing it must be for the children. To have parents that don't talk to you and explain things or ask why you feel how you do. To have orders barked at you instead of talking with you. A friend of mine encouraged me to read a book on non-violent communication. I thought is was fabulous and have been trying to use it in all aspects of my life (though some habits are hard to break), especially with the children. The website describes NVC as a way to create human connections that empower compassionate giving and receiving. Sometimes NVC is referred to a compassionate communication. I try to use NVC as a way to understand the children better so I can form a better bond with them. At first many of them didn't respond well to the method and were frustrated with me but recently they have been able to talk to me more, use more "I feel" statements instead of the typical tattling statements that they were using before.
I feel that a huge part of parenting is effective communication with your children. If you can communicate well, there is more trust, more opportunities for learning and ultimately more love. If you are already a parent, take a moment and consider the way you communicate with your children (and with your spouse). If you are not a parent, how do you communicate with those around you? Is this how you would want to communicate with your children (or just others around you)? If you are interesting in learning more about non-violent communication you can visit http://www.cnvc.org/ .
For me communication is one of the most important parts of parenting. I hope that in my small way as a part-time caregiver for these children, I can help them learn to communicate with others in a way that maybe their parents will appreciate as their children begin to communicate more with them.