Sunday, October 2, 2011

Parenting Outside the Box

Dear Friends,

In my most recent blog post, I shared that I have been writing as a community blogger for the Dexter Patch, our local online newspaper. I was recently moved to respond to an opinion article in the Patch, in which another mom asked parents to weigh in on when they start assigning chores to their young children. Her article was entitled "Earning Your Keep."

In an attempt to bridge our apparent differences in parenting philosophies, I reached out across the divide and extended my own thoughts on the subject of not only chores, but how our family communicates and models responsibility for our selves.

When I am in my best space (parenting or otherwise), I am tuned into my intuition and flow in the direction of what resonates with joy in my heart. When I feel connected with my family members, I trust my inner voice and remain aligned with peaceful, loving, respectful co-existence. I put myself in their shoes, and ask myself, "If someone were asking me to help with chores around the house, how would I like to be asked?" 
If someone said to me, "You can't eat (or play or read or be with my friends) until I clean the sink or take out the trash, etc.," I would feel bummed and resentful. On the other hand, if someone invited me to do chores together, and it was a fun, joyful, shared activity, I expect I would feel honored, respected, and helpful. 
My husband and I intentionally put energy into the idea of "being the change you want to see." For us, this means on one level modeling the behaviors (i.e., doing chores, speaking respectfully, eating healthy foods, etc.) that we would hope to see in our children. To be honest that still feels manipulative, in the idea that if I do "x" my child will do "z." It is still based on attempting to shape another's behavior. 
On a deeper level, we actually strive to model self-responsibility. That translates into: when we see something that needs to be cleaned, we clean it. When we interact with others, we are respectful. We eat fruit and vegetables because they nourish our bodies. Our children naturally mimic what they observe. We all do. Kindness begets kindness. Responsibility begets responsibility. 
Our children's response to our actions is merely a by-product. Ultimately the only person any of us truly has control over is ourselves. And teaching our children to take responsibility and modeling kindness and living respectfully and healthily begins with us. Not to be an example, but to simply realize the depth and expanse and beauty of our own potential. 
In peace,

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