NOT IN MY HOUSE!
Closing the Door on Reactive Parenting
© 2010 By Deborah Beasley ACPI CCPF
No parent begins their journey deciding to be harsh or hurtful as part of their parenting plan. The irony of parenthood is that we sometimes react to our children in negative ways which defy our natural parenting instincts. Comedienne Phyllis Diller expresses this thought with humor when she says: “We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk, and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.”
Do you react more than you respond to your child? If so, it is time you close the door on reactive parenting. This is the right time for parent’s to say: “Not in my house!”
“Don’t push my buttons!”
There is one painful childhood experience hiding beneath each one of our so called ‘buttons.’ Harsh words we heard from our parents or teachers, and they heard from theirs traces back for generations. These painful remembrances often lie just below our seemingly calm parental exterior.
Any number of everyday events is capable of exposing the painful scars on the heart of the child still within us. As our daily demands and stress levels stretch there remains the likely potential of a rupture of our unresolved hurts. When our ‘buttons’ pop, what they tell us about why we react is revealing. When our buttons fly, the things we say come straight from generational conditioning.
If I Said It Once, I’ve Said It a Million Times
The following is a list of conditioned phrases. Don’t be surprised if some of them sound familiar.
• Not in my house!
• Over my dead body!
• Not if I have anything to say about it?
• Don’t give me that attitude!
• Wipe that smirk off your face before I wipe it for you!
• Don’t give me that look!
• Don’t talk to me with that tone!
• Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.
• Why do I have to repeat myself? You should get it right the first time.
• Don’t you ever listen when I’m talking to you?
• I tell you till I’m blue in the face.
• Listen to me or else…
• Do as I say or else…
• Sit there until you figure out what you did.
• Stand in that corner until you can learn how to be good.
• Go to your room! I don’t want to see you.
• Say that again and I’ll wash your mouth out with soap!
• I am so angry I can’t even look at you!
• Are you stupid? What were you thinking?
• If Jimmy jumped off a bridge would you do it too?
• What’s wrong with you?
• Why are you so bad?
• It doesn’t matter what you think, (or feel) I make the rules.
• In this house you’ll do as I say.
Whew! Even I have to breathe through that!
The Parenting Paradox
The heart of the parenting journey is the joy of creating family and pro-active parenting; protecting, teaching, and nurturing. We carefully weigh what to keep from our parents, what we will amend, and what to adopt from current social trends. Our parenting philosophy grows from what we value most.
Each of the above phrases communicates something very powerful to our children. The message is one of power and control through fear, threats, and isolation. This is not the message we ever intended to give. This is certainly not what we had in mind when we decided to become parents.
Challenge and Growth
It is important to know that we do not give these negative messages willingly, or even consciously. Each one of us carries within us emotional echoes from past generations. The way we interact with and speak to our children is heavily seeded by early childhood experiences. This scientific truth does not mean we cannot improve on reality.
Life is about challenge and growth. Challenge is our willingness to explore and acknowledge our actions without further injury of self-blame. Challenge is simply to know and move forward. Growth is our readiness and ability to move beyond the obstacle. Growth is active. It requires participation.
Are you ready to close the door on conditioned reactive parenting? (Okay. This is your part.)
You say; “Yes! I am!”
Out With the Old
Great! It is time to take charge of the parent you want to be. Here are seven ways to replace old conditioning with new.
1. You are such a great kid.
2. I am so glad I have you.
3. We are very proud of you for ________________. (fill in your child’s accomplishment. Such as: I am very proud of you for taking good care of the dog; or, for trying hard on your test.)
4. Life is an experiment. You will make mistakes, but you will never disappoint me.
5. Don’t ever be afraid to come to me for help or support.
6. I’ll always be here to listen.
7. I love you.
Reactive Parenting? Not in my house!