WHY I CHOOSE RESPECTFUL PARENTING

WHY I CHOOSE RESPECTFUL PARENTING - This Wild Home

Before my first son became a full-blown toddler, I hadn’t done any research at all on child-care, children, or how they develop. I had my own experiences, a basic understanding of some human psychology, and a fairly decent instinct. But when my angelic baby turned into a strong-willed toddler, I was convinced that everything I was doing was wrong and that I was making him unhappy and ill-mannered. I couldn’t shake the fear that somehow I had ruined him already and that I was doing everything all wrong.

I quickly took to the internet in a desperate attempt to save my toddler and the relationship between us. I found some resources that really opened my eyes and I read and read until I felt like I had a decent understanding of different methods and mindsets on parenting. Then, I found Janet Lansbury and the world of Respectful Parenting.

I went into motherhood with a basic idea of what I wanted it to look like. It didn’t feel right to punish my kids for things that didn’t seem morally wrong. We knew for sure there would be no spanking or physical punishments of any kind. Mostly, I knew I wanted my kids to grow up unafraid and uninhibited by me and my expectations. I knew I wanted my role to be provider and caretaker. My only real job, in my mind, is to be there when they fall and help them get back up again. (I mean, obviously be a model for manners and stuff too.)

Despite all that, I had no idea how to execute these goals the way I wanted. Before I discovered Respectful Parenting I really had no idea how to implement my ideas effectively in a way where I was still in control. Now that I have these tools and the knowhow to really make this peaceful and respectful bond between me and my boys grow while still effectively parenting them, I’ve seen the benefits of this style of parenting. It truly changed my mood, my mindset, and my relationship with my kids for the better.

WHY I CHOOSE RESPECTFUL PARENTING

  • IT TAKES THE PRESSURE OFF | This may not be the best way to phrase it, given that Respectful Parenting does have a lazy vibe on the outside. With all the lack of punishment and safe places and everything. I can honestly say that when I first discovered it, I was a little unsure of how parents were still in charge of the whole operation. But as I learned more and as I introduce more of the practice into my own home, I am finding that my toddler listens better and I don’t feel as much pressure when things aren’t perfect.

    The part of peaceful parenting that takes the pressure off is that the first step is to accept that toddlers don’t listen. It’s not their job to listen. Children have lots of feelings, the same as you and I do. We feel like screaming when things get overwhelming. I’ve hit a pillow or two out of extreme frustration over things that, in hindsight, were really quite ridiculous to be so upset over. And I’ve done all of this as a full grown adult with that one little thing we should have that kids don’t: self-control.

    When I finally realized that my toddler’s outbursts weren’t the beginnings of a bad seed, but simply the perfectly normal and natural expression of emotion, I was less afraid. I felt so much less pressure to prevent negative feelings and extreme reactions. I finally realized it’s not my job to tell them how to feel or to make sure they’re feeling happy 100% of the time. It’s simply my job to allow my kids to feel what they need and help them find the self-control to expel their feelings appropriately over time.

  • IT’S FOR RAISING ADULTS, NOT KIDS | I knew before my sons were born that I was raising future adults. I knew I wanted to go into parenting this way. I had a good idea of how I wanted to parent, but it is really nice knowing that there’s a group of people out there who are parenting this way too. And it’s nice being able to find that community of people who have their own tips and tricks on how to foster our children’s childhoods to help them grow into happy and productive adults.

    It’s always been tricky for me to think of children as children. Mostly because I’m always thinking 1,000 steps ahead. I look at my toddler and newborn son and see them as very tiny men. Tiny men who need me to help them be the best men that they can be. But in order to do that, I have to respect them as whole human beings with rights and developmental stages that can’t be rushed.

    We’re only with our kids for a short amount of time. They will likely have their own families longer than they were ever a full part of ours. They will be responsible for themselves, and others, before we know it. We’re raising men who will need to learn to be good to women and women who need to learn to be good to men and people who need to learn to be good to people. Most importantly, we’re raising people who need to learn how to be good to themselves no matter what others bring their way.

    With Respectful Parenting, it’s not about fixing the toddler problem to make a better toddler. It’s about allowing the toddler to get as much as he can out now in order to help him to walk into adulthood feeling light. Not weighed down by all the emotions he had to bury because we didn’t want a screaming toddler.

  • IT’S JUST AS MUCH CARING FOR YOURSELF AS IT IS CARING FOR YOUR KIDS | The older I get, the more I realize I’m a pretty sensitive person. Marriage and motherhood are two things that definitely motivate you to knock down your walls so you can share who you really are with the people closest to you. In that, you learn about yourself. So I’ve learned I’m a big sensitive baby. I’m not the type to let things roll by unaffected. I’m the type to feel everything, deeply, until I’ve finished feeling it. In return, how I’m feeling can affect everything around me. My productivity, the clothes I choose to wear, the activities I engage in, and ultimately, how effectively I can parent.

    When I decided to approach parenting in a way that encourages feelings and expression within my children, I learned that patience (my worst quality) needed to be at the forefront of my mind at all times. In order to do that, I needed to take care of myself. My emotions, my problems, my stress, my insecurities; everything. It all needed to be addressed and maintained. Because, if I’m not happy, how can I help my children find happiness?

    One thing that’s strongly encouraged in peaceful parenting is addressing your own issues and I love that. So many parents will feel wrong with tradition punishments and attitudes towards kids but still believe it’s the only way because thats what they were raised with. It usually stems from their own childhood. It’s something they have to work to overcome within themselves before they can implement the practice effectively in their own home. People who were raised with their own feelings being punishable offenses, shamed, or ignored have a hard time feeling like it’s okay when their kids express the same extreme feelings they need to express.

    When you take a look at how you respond to your kid’s feelings, it can give you some perspective on how your own feelings were handled as a kid and how you learned to deal with them growing up. It gives you an opportunity to fix yourself in order to give your kids a better chance of learning and coping and feeling productive. And better yet, it’s very encouraging to make sure you never forget to take care of yourself through the process of parenting.

THE EVOLUTION OF HUMANITY: ENLIGHTENED PARENTING

THE EVOLUTION OF HUMANITY: ENLIGHTENED PARENTING - This Wild Home

To preface: all thoughts in this post have been inspired by Kristin Mariella.

There’s an interesting theory flying around these days. It’s the idea that humanity, as a whole, is evolving right before our eyes. We’re seeing a shift in our understanding and self-awareness like never before. We have knowledge beyond any other generation. We have our own insights and practices, along with many years of documented experience to look back on and learn from. 

We’re at a place now where we’re all connected and we have the time to be aware of others around us in an open-minded, observatory fashion. We can see the cause and affect of our own actions more clearly than ever and it’s going to change the way we view children and parenting forever. 

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So, we are human. We are ever evolving, ever growing beings. We started as animals and then became civilized humans. We’ve molded the world to meet our needs in order to live as comfortably and stress free as possible. We’ve made it to where most all us have our basic needs - food, shelter, health-care, etc. - met with ease. We mastered the art of maintaining our sustenance which gave us time to learn to build shelters that can protect us from most anything. With consistent sustenance and trusted shelter, we were able to create industry which brought us even more sustenance and shelter and then, luxuries like trains, cars, fashionable clothing, etc. We’ve molded our species to have some of the easiest lives in history to where our only true threat is the occasional natural occurrence (like tornados or hurricanes) and other humans who have not evolved enough to use brains over brawn. Because of all this, we have the time, freedom, and resources to learn about ourselves and the world around us.

I understand this may seem like a privileged view of the world, but my point is, those of us living in civilized societies have our basic needs met most of the time. This gives us more time to dig into the deeper areas of how we humans and the world around us work. We, as a species, have time to fly into space and look at people chopping up soap on instagram which, in turn, means we parents have time to learn about children and how they develop.

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We have time to pick up a book and figure out when children develop certain abilities (like impulse control) in order to make sure our expectations are realistic . We have time to learn what emotions mean and where they come from in order to allow our children to have them without triggering our own. Most importantly, we are evolved enough to understand that our personal emotions are based on our instincts. They are the impulsive part of our brain that help keep us safe from danger . Unfortunately, they are also the impulsive part of our brain that tells us our children’s natural behavior is a threat and should be corrected at all costs, including the cost of our children’s potential and happiness.

This is what a lot of people like to call, “default parenting.” It takes no thought. You see your child doing something that triggers your brain’s reactors and you yell at them or hit them. You carry out an extreme consequence to do anything you can do to remove this “threat.” The problem with this is, in the reasonable, intelligent part of our brain, we understand children are not truly a threat. They are smaller and slower and in times of true danger, we are capable of being quick enough, aware enough, and strong enough to prevent that danger without igniting fear within our children. We are capable of being more evolved than our uneducated instincts, but it takes knowledge and practice to get there.

While our brains have not developed past the point of reaction, our society has evolved faster than our instincts. That gives us a choice to create an evolution within ourselves. To rise above our instincts and be the evolved humans our society allows for. Humans that don’t need to be afraid of their surroundings to the point of lashing out at the innocent beings around us. It takes practice. It takes rewiring your instincts and allowing yourself to think before reacting. To let yourself believe that inflicting fear and bad feelings on another human is not the only way to teach them. It takes effort and I’d hope we’re all willing to put in a little effort for the sake of our children, and ultimately, the sake of humanity itself.

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Going back to theories: With all of this knowledge of evolution and the current state of society, there are many people who have had the time and resources to study children and their development. They study their emotions and reactions. How they learn, how they respond, and how many different ways a child may do each of those things. These people have come to the conclusion that children don’t truly need discipline. They don’t need us to teach them proper behavior. They simply need a good role model and an environment created to facilitate growth.

Because of this, it is believed that, not only are there truly no bad kids, but that every child is born perfect. Not perfect in the sense of, “doing no wrong,” but perfect in that they are born with all the tools they need to learn and function within society. Essentially, they are born ready to become the most perfect version of themselves without any of our help. In fact, when you see a child fall into a pattern of bad behavior, it is most likely because of an adult getting in the way of their process. One that they need to go through in order to fully develop to their full potential.

In short, children with bad behavior are not bad children, they are either in a stage of development that requires said behavior to move forward OR they simply have inadequate leaders.

To add to that, there are also behaviors that we perceive as bad because of our uneducated instincts and/or because we were taught as children that these natural developments within ourselves are bad. Children who appear bad are falling victim to uneducated, instinctual, default parents who let their ignorance propel these children into becoming bad adults. They have leaders who are unwilling to practice what they preach, unwilling to be better than the generation before them, and unwilling to evolve beyond their “default” primitive state.

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This post is not to dive into the details of childhood development and proper parenting methods. I, myself, am still in the early stages of learning truly what all of this means. My goal with all of this is to spread the word that we can be better. We can learn and grow to become the parents that the children of the world, in every stage of evolution, have always needed their parents to be.

Throughout our own evolution, we’ve learned that people who look different are not always a threat. We’ve learned that people who are weak are not invaluable. We’ve fought so hard to give everyone rights through encouraging education on communities who have previously been discriminated against. I’m hoping that with the knowledge we can access in this stage of evolution, we can learn to trust that children are intelligent and equal. That they are deserving of respect. Respect that is necessary for them to grow into the perfect humans they are supposed to become.

Similar to the monumental moments where we fought for the rights of women, minorities, and LGBT communities, I believe this is a moment in history where we will see a rise in the rights of children. We will see a movement of better parenting and education practices that will end the days of physical and verbal abuse on any scale. A movement that will give every child the environment necessary to grow to their full potential.

GOOD HABITS: MEAL PLANNING

GOOD HABITS: MEAL PLANNING - This Wild Home

There was once a time I thought I hated cooking. The idea of getting in a kitchen and making a meal only made me think of dishes and cleaning and lack-luster food that was barely edible. I mostly ate out, but I didn’t have enough money to eat from actual restaurants who might give me a real vegetable. So fast-food became my go-to for a very long time, and even that wasn’t as budget friendly as I hoped.

Fast forward to now and I’ve learned that I really enjoy cooking. I’m at a point where I can look in my kitchen at random ingredients and find a way to put them all together in a way that tastes good. I have a pile of recipes I can turn to when I can’t think of what to make and I have staples that are favorites amongst my family that I can always turn to when I don’t feel like putting in much effort.

This didn’t happen overnight, of course. It wasn’t something I just woke up and realized I could do. Cooking is a skill and it takes practice. Coming up with recipes on your own takes a lot of trial and error and reading of other recipes that others have made. It’s not as easy as going on Pinterest, finding some stuff that looks good, and becoming a master chef who makes creative meals every night.

Making your own food is definitely a habit you have to intentionally add to your life. There are mindsets you have to work on, things you have to learn, and an admiration you need to develop in order to make cooking at home something you do regularly. That may be why so many people opt for frozen dinners or take out.

IN A WORLD THAT REQUIRES YOU TO GO GO GO ALL THE TIME, YOU LOOSE ROOM FOR MONEY SAVERS AND HEALTH BOOSTERS LIKE HOME-COOKED MEALS.

So now that I’m at a point where I feel weird when I don’t cook at home and I’m able to cook all three meals for us every day, I’ve looked back on how I got here and what it really took for me to start cooking at home.

MEAL PLANNING

In order to meal plan, there are a few things you need to let go of in order to do it easily without the pressure of feeling like you need to have an exciting, gourmet meal for every single meal every day. Honestly, the best part of meal planning is you start to know your staples. Things that everyone likes and ingredients you know you can throw together anytime your tired or just not feeling up to it.

GET IN THE RIGHT MINDSET

BUY WHAT YOU LIKE | There were so many times when I started cooking that I’d go to the store and pass some spinach and think, “I should eat more salad so I’ll get that.” Then, of course, it wound up in the trash all soggy and gross, never even opened.

You have to trust that you’ll get there. One day, cooking will be so second nature and healthier options will be so regular that you will eat a salad frequently enough to actually warrant purchasing a whole bunch of spinach. But in the beginning, just buy the stuff you know you like. Even if it’s just ground beef and hamburger helper. Whatever gets you moving around in the kitchen is key.

KEEP IT SIMPLE | I feel like it’s really easy to get wrapped up in Pinterest and social media. It feels like people are making complex, beautiful, healthy meals all day every day all the time. But they’re not. Some nights they have leftovers. Some nights they throw things together in a giant pot and call it a day. Some nights they make the same thing they’ve already made four times that week.

Meal planning doesn’t mean that every meal turns into something fancy all the time. It doesn’t mean you’re suddenly a master chef that makes fancy restaurant quality meals all the time. It simply means you’re making stuff that keeps you fed. That should really be your only goal: Can I eat this and is it good enough to keep us alive and energized for a few more hours?

VARIETY IS OVER RATED | The biggest thing that held me back, in the beginning, was feeling like I had to make something extremely different for every meal every day. I’d try to make sure we were having a different vegetable, meat, side, whatever every night. It was exhausting and way more expensive than necessary. But the reality is, food is only supposed to be fuel to keep your body running. You should try and eat healthy as much as possible and get a good variety of proteins and veggies and things every once in a while. But if you have the same smoothies every day for breakfast, the same avocado toasts every day for lunch, and the same power bowl for dinner, your life will be easier.

Of course, it’s good to switch things up and you may even have fun trying new things every once in a while, but that doesn’t need to be the priority. The only thing you truly need to focus on is getting yourself and anyone else fed.

FORMING THE HABIT

So once you let go of the idea that meal planning and cooking at home is some big flashy thing you have to do, starting the habit really just takes practice. It takes starting small and working your way up to it. For me, creating better habits requires no pressure. I have to make it fun and I have to make it easy or else it’ll never happen. So here’s how I got into the habit of cooking at home and meal planning.

START SMALL | If you go from 0 to 100, you’ll probably wind up with hundreds of dollars worth of food in the trash. Simply having the food at your house will not teach you how or motivate you to make it. It’s also hard to know how much of something you truly need until you’re already cooking consistently. The amount of food I over bought when I first tried to get in the habit of meal planning was such a waste for my wallet and just food in general.

The best thing to do is to start with one meal. Find a recipe that looks delicious and do-able and buy what you need for that. Then, the next week, make two meals and so on. This is a good way to build your recipe portfolio, learn what you like and what you don’t like, learn what’s too much work and what’s easy, and build your pantry inventory over time.

INVEST IN PREP | When I first started meal planning, I’d make giant batches of stuff. So one day I’d make enough spaghetti to feed a family of 10 (for two of us) and reheat that for the next couple of days. Or I’d make a giant batch of soup (seriously the easiest meal to make) and have it for lunch for the next week.

I don’t love overcooking to the point of needing to freeze because a lot of stuff just isn’t the same after it’s been prepared and frozen. But making big batches, especially in the beginning, can help you get in the habit of actually eating at home without having to be in the habit of cooking every day.

TRY A MEAL PLAN SUBSCRIPTION | No, they are not quite as budget-friendly, but they are so helpful with getting yourself in the habit of cooking at home. In a way, it’s almost like a cooking class right in your home. You get all of the ingredients you need, the exact amount you need, and all the recipes are made and decided (with a little help from you) so all you have to do it cook.

I think my biggest hurdle when getting into meal planning was simply just getting in the habit of cooking and building my confidence in that. So when I got a meal plan subscription, I already had the food at home, it was only three meals a week, and the instructions were so clear that I felt like I knew what I was doing. I learned different skills, different techniques, different pairings. All the things I needed to learn to really get in the habit of cooking consistently and planning my meals every week.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be learned.

Building your recipe book, getting stocked on some staples, and really getting in the habit of preparing your own food every day are all things that need to happen to build this habit. If you work at it and go at a comfortable pace, eventually you’ll be at a point where you feel the urge to get in the kitchen and cook up something good.