P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship


P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship — Component #1 Patience

Dear Parents, have patience, patience, patience…

If I were asked to identify eight components essential for transforming the relationship between a parent and child, what might they be? Suppose that you could only pick eight and no more. Which eight would you pick?

This series was written to identify what I believe to be the essential components to a peaceful parent/child relationship. Let me qualify the articles by saying that I believe the true catalyst to change in any relationship stems from us as individuals – as parents and professionals. In our relationship with our children it is essential that we take the first step in being reflective of our own internal states thereby giving us the ability, without the distortion of stress and fear, to see clearly the needs of our children.

Scott Rogers states in his book Mindful Parenting, it’s not about raising your child, it’s about you and me: “When we are mindful, we see what is before us; when we are not, we see what is in our mind.” One reason Rogers says that time seems to pass so quickly is that we are not aware of the moment as it happens. Want to enjoy more of your life? Want to see more clearly what is there? Mindfulness is the key to “more”. It allows you to “be” there more for your children, spouse and yes, even yourself through both the good and the bad, and see what is real rather than what is on our own mind.”

This is what I mean when I say stress causes us to “react from the past, obsess about the future, and miss the present. And when you are out of the present you are no longer here.” One could say that the more stress we have, the shorter our lives are—physically, due to the damage that stress does to the body, and mentally, due to not being present.

For instance, it has taken me approximately thirty minutes to write this introduction because my young daughter has interrupted me exactly seven times for various request, a hug, a kiss, a bit of rough housing, a search for her birth certificate, then mine, then my mothers, and most recently, nothing more than to throw her arms around my neck.

Are these eight components essential? Yeah, I think so!

#1 Patience is a process that comes from a deep sense of calmness and well-being. It is an absolute necessity in a parent’s daily interaction with a child. As a parent, when you are stressed, the task of being patient will be infinitely more difficult than when you are calm. This is not a gift. You do have to work at it.

In order to remain patient, you must first take into consideration your own stress that may be unconsciously driving your state of functioning. Next, you must make a concerted effort to be aware of your child’s needs at all times and consider what she may be feeling at any given moment.

And remember, you cannot be patient all of the time. When you do fail in the area of patience you can always apologize for raising your voice or lashing out, and promise to do better the next time.  Now, between now and component #2, notice your ability to be patience. Become acutely aware of when you are hitting your window of tolerance and make a mental note of what the trigger is. Remember to be be patient with yourself in this exercise. Breathe.

Choose Patience –B

P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship — Component #2 Empathy

The 3 Secrets to Great Parenting: 1-Empathy, 2-Empathy, 3-Empathy

Empathy is the ability to experience and identify with the emotional state of another person. It is important to understand that  there are only two primary emotions: Love and Fear. Often times that which looks opposite to love is stemming from fear.

Understanding the primary emotions will assist you in the process of empathy. This ability is one of the most important aspects in a healthy relationship between a parent and child. One of the most common misconceptions among parents is that a child displaying aggressive behavior is angry.

This shows a lack of empathy and leads the parent to respond as if he is relating to an angry child, which in turn builds up defensive barriers in the child. Once you begin to view your child as angry and untrusting, you fail to empathize with him. It is very difficult for you to move from a place of anger at your child if you are not able to empathize and identify with what your child is actually feeling.

Remember to work diligently to see the fear underneath the anger. Your own personal history and upbringing may get in the way of empathy as well. We have all experienced various traumas of childhood. You need to be careful to empathize with what your child is actually feeling, rather than assuming he is feeling what you felt as a child.

It is important not to react from an unconscious desire to rescue your child from the pain that you may have felt yourself as a child, or to compensate for something missing in the your own interpersonal life. The longer you live with unresolved traumas in your own life, the further down inside you bury them, and they become deeply ingrained into your unconscious drives.

The task of being empathetic becomes a two-fold experience. One, for the parent to be aware of his own unconscious and past issues; and two, to look beyond seeing his child as angry, and to identify with the child’s true feelings. This empathetic connection will make parenting a much more mutually satisfying experience.

Choose Empathy,  — B

P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship — Component #3 Acceptance is the unconditional love that lies beneath the essential lifelong commitment a parent makes to her child.

It is vital to the child’s healthy survival in the world.

This level of commitment communicates to your child, “No matter what may happen in life, you are okay with me, and for this reason, I accept you as you are.”

When a child receives this core message, she will carry this as a stepping-stone into all areas throughout the rest of her life.

We all have a need to be accepted, to belong, to feel a part, to be invited into a group with values and beliefs that coincide with those that resonate deep within our beings. Whether it is a group of friends, the human race, a community, or a family; being accepted is a means of defining ourselves. Many children, unfortunately, do not have this deep sense of acceptance to fall back on during the struggles of life.

These children live with a deep belief that they are inadequate, not accepted, and unable to be valued and loved.

The result is a life of constant self-doubt and low self-worth. Such children grow up and become adults who try to find their self-worth in others, always looking to others or their work or their money for approval.

Acceptance between a parent and child is the unspoken agreement that within their relationship that all is okay for now and forever.

When difficult times come, as surely they will, this child knows that she can always return to her parent for security and acceptance.

Every child’s unspoken prayer: “May you love me the most when I deserve it the least, because that is when I need it the most”. (Our thanks to Pat O’Brien, founder of yougottabelieve.org, for this prayer)

Choose acceptance, — B

P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship – Component #4 Compassion is the act of feeling deeply for the life position of another individual.

Life position is defined as the stage of internal growth one has attained through experience.

For children, their life position is vastly compromised and so completely dependent upon the responses of the environment.

For example, once I took my child to Disney World for a summer vacation.  In the process of my own internal frenzy to ensure that she had the greatest time possible, I stopped for a moment to reflect upon what I was feeling and what she might be feeling.

In an instant, relief flooded my body as I realized how lost she was in the excitement of the experience, and to simply be in the experience from her life position would be an abundant experience.

I didn’t have to rush all around Disney like a mad man; I could simply allow my child to experience life from her seven-year-old position.

I was able to experience deeply a sense of compassion for her youth that I had seldom felt.

To this day I continue to reflect on the essence of that moment to allow me to connect to my child on a deep and compassionate level. It is not about me. I can simply allow my child to be who they are, and to choose who they might want to be. Isn’t this what love and support are all about? When we can feel what others are feeling, we can do what is best for them – and for us.

Choose compassion,
— B

P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship – Component #5 Encouragement

It is an aspect of our relationship with our children that we simply cannot do enough. The word comes from the Latin word ‘cor’ having to do with heart. It is a powerful word, meaning to fill someone with strength of heart to persevere, overcome or conquer.

Have you ever had the experience as an adult of wanting to do something new?

Maybe you were considering a new job or a major purchase, but were feeling unsure.

What did you need?  What did you eventually receive?

Ultimately, when life presents us with a challenge, the sheer magnitude of the fear we create can lead us to fall back and not make an effort.

For children, this experience happens daily. Simply the effort to work on a homework assignment alone can present an enormous degree of fear for a child.

Imagine the significance of a simple, “You can do it, I have faith in you,” for a child when facing a life obstacle.

As we encourage our children in daily life experiences we are endowing them with a deep sense of their ability to trust themselves in the endeavors they pursue.

As a child growing up I can recall, with the greatest sensation of love, never an ill word spoken towards my endeavors.  From seven years of age when I wanted to start a lemonade stand on the corner block, to an adult when I desire to build a fortress for family healing, nothing but loving support.

Encouragement is one of the purest blessings we can ever bestow upon our children.

Choose encouragement,

— B

P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship – Component #6 Forgiveness

Forgiveness of self forms the foundation for love and forgiveness of others.

In my work with families I encounter all of the time parents who have experienced deep pain during childhood at the hands of their own parents, and the first thing they generally say is, “Oh I have forgiven my parents.”

Without a doubt when I hear this question I sense deeply within myself an individual who has not fully embraced the understanding of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a process of self-awareness and self-acceptance, which allows us to see our actions both positive and negative and take responsibility for them as opposed to feeling blamed, which leads to guilt. In other words, it is the human condition to blame ourselves for all things negative.

Regrettably this takes the place in the form of shaming, and denial of ones feelings, and a building up of a sense of ones lack of worth.

The abused child comes to believe that they are the reason for the abuse. If only they could behave better. The abused child as an adult comes to deny the feeling of not being good enough and reinforces this negative self-picture with a misconception of forgiving her parents. In fact, this only fosters her sense of shame and denial.

Rather, the adult must come to the deeply emotional awakening that she must forgive herself for the years spent devaluing, blaming, and shaming her beautiful self. Until we can forgive ourselves we cannot forgive others fully. All else becomes face value, simply surface.

For parents in their interaction with their own children it is essential to see their own inherent parental shortcomings.

We must strive to do the best that we can but also realize we will make mistakes as our parents also made mistakes. When the mistakes occur, as surely they will, we must first forgive ourselves for our imperfections and then seek forgiveness from our children. Forgiveness should also come with the promise and effort to do better next time.

Someone once asked Jesus how many times we should forgive our brothers. Seven? No, Jesus replied, seven times seventy… do the math. But then again, the number is more symbolic than literal. The parable of the prodigal son is a great display of true forgiveness. No apologies needed. No demand to re-prove worthiness. Just a simple, “I am glad that you are back”.

It’s a great story. Read it over a few times and see what you come up with.

Choose forgiveness.
— B

P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship – Component #7 Understanding
our children means perceiving precisely what they mean rather than assuming an ulterior motive.

It means being sympathetic toward their point of view.

Most parenting theories fail to teach parents the necessity of understanding.

This failure is not in the parents themselves, but in what they have been taught.

This teaching began with the parent’s parents and their parents before them and before them…

Along the way, in all of the confusion, some have been led even further astray by misinformed therapists who themselves had received much the same form of parenting.

This problem runs rampant in our society.

We have been directed to look outside of ourselves for solutions, but in doing so we miss the single greatest solution to almost any conflict, which is simply understanding the situation from the other person’s perspective.

It is often difficult to understand the behavior of a child because we fail to understand our own reactions first.

Generally, misbehavior, if not interpreted correctly, will lead to a parental feeling of fear, which will give way to guilt or blame, and in some instances, a deeper sense of shame.

When this occurs the parent has already stepped out of range of understanding her child.

The primary key to understanding your child is in your perception of her behavior.

Parents are often so intent on believing that children are inherently disobedient, that they fail to see the true emotions driving their children’s behavior.

Most often, it is not about disobedience at all.

It is the presence of fear that causes the adverse behavior.

If a parent will look beneath the behavior to the underlying fear of the child, she will be better able to approach her child with an attitude of understanding.

Choose understanding. You’ll understand…
— B

Love is not a noun. Love is not a feeling. Love is a verb. Act on it.

P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship – Component #8 Love
Love is the ribbon that ties patience, empathy, acceptance, compassion, encouragement, forgiveness, and understanding all together.

Love is not a feeling – it is an action. Consider that if you don’t “act” like you love someone, you are not loving someone.

Love does not just occur or present itself – it takes effort, intention. Sometimes work. Sometimes it is hard to love your child (yourself).

Love is not a noun – it is a verb!

Your child will not just feel loved because you say you love him or her. They must feel it through your actions.

This may take the form of a hug, a smile, or a kiss; but it takes some action before love can be experienced.

It will do your child no good to talk about how much you love your child if he/she does not experience your love through your actions.

All else pales in comparison to a child feeling loved. Children need this love above anything else.

The practice of love is difficult. That is why we must practice it. We all know that to be really good at anything, there are 3 things we must do: practice, practice, practice.

The process and practice of expressing love is displayed through the actions of showing Patience, connecting in Empathy, providing Acceptance, approaching with Compassion, offering Encouragement, showering with Forgiveness, seeking to truly Understand your child. And yes, the 8th and final step in this never-ending process is Love-ing. Repeat as needed.

Choose love. You’ll love it …

— B