It is possible to avoid confrontation and achieve results by establishing boundaries and rules that serve everyone.
Parenting is not done in isolation. The relationship of authority that we establish with our children is first and foremost a two-way relationship, which must take into account their abilities. This is the idea behind “positive parenting.” Also, in his Letter to Families Pope John Paul II reminds us: to welcome our child just as he or she is; isn’t this simply realizing that God has given us a gift? “[Parents] should honor their children, young and old, as a fundamental condition for any authentic educational process.” This is sometimes very hard to do, as we can be blindly locked into our own ambitions.
Getting out of the dominant-dominated paradigm
“Simon is a problem child. At the same age, his sister was much easier. Every night he has a fit when he has to take a bath, it’s exhausting,” says Raphaëlle, his mother. Like all parents, she compares her children to each other, which keeps her from understanding her son. We need to appreciate the uniqueness of each child no matter how old they are, and review our “parental programming” to better understand them, or rather, to better welcome them. In a book that is both practical and insightful, Jan Faull, a parenting consultant in Seattle, Washington, achieves the incredible feat of reassuring parents about their ability to establish house rules and impose fair authority, while at the same time offering them practical advice that can be applied by everyone.
First, we need to move away from the dominant-dominated paradigm, in which a false concept of authority gets us off track. Given that the crisis of authority in the family has been going on for more than 40 years, the temptation today is great to become overly rigid in the educational relationship. “Parents have understood that it is necessary to consider the contributions of child psychology, but they are afraid of being overwhelmed,” says Chantal Lecœur, a school principal. As a result, they go from overusing dialogue that falls into justification, to firm and strict attitudes that the child no longer understands. “This shift marks our two main pitfalls of the moment: excessive leniency and authoritarianism.”
A skillful mix of words, understanding, and demands
To get out of the back-and-forth between continual negotiations and “Don’t do this, don’t do that,” it is first of all necessary for parents and children to trust each other. Postponing a demand because the child is not emotionally or intellectually ready to meet it is not a sign of weakness but a demonstration of strength. Strength and greatness of the one who gave life, and who knows their child as a person.
This is perhaps the real shortcoming of our family lives—lack of time: time to love, time to listen, time to educate.We need to get ourselves free from the exhausting rushing around and welcome in the gift of our child’s life.