I’ve written about the concept of the good-enough parent — a combination of showing up and not retaliating. It is a simple strategy but quite challenging in the face of a disgruntled preschooler!
Seven years in, I’ve managed to make non-retaliation a habit. If you are still working on it then remember to practice all-the-time…
- Yield in traffic and queues
- Breathe into tension
- Slow down
New habits are most easily created when we are capable of self-control — away from the kids, in low stress environments.
I’ve been at it for over 15 years.
I’ll start by sharing what’s definitely not next.
A habit of constant correction will make you, and everyone in your house, miserable.
An easy way to make this visible… track your positive-to-negative interactions with your kids, spouse and friends.
Another way… ask a close friend… When I talk about myself, what do I say?
If this is an area for improvement then it’s already obvious to everyone around you.
It was shocking when I did this with my oldest. I became so aware of my error in approach that you can get a quick rise out of me by constantly correcting her in my presence.
Correcting less, in ALL areas of my life.
What about next-level positive habits?
De-escalation – become skillful in draining the energy out of situations.
Most of us didn’t grow up in an environment that taught us these skills.
Becoming an effective family leader will require education, motivation and daily practice.
Two things helped me here:
- learning the methods of outstanding preschool teachers – if they can teach preschoolers to de-escalate then they can certainly teach us!
- reading the secular writings of spiritual masters
Opening To Experience – the most valuable experiences shared with my family serve no purpose, other than sharing an experience with my family.
Often, my shared experiences are activities that I would not choose for myself. Recent examples, collecting sea shells, swim races, downhill skiing and art shopping.
Most of the leadership we were shown as children was about saying “no.”
Constantly being told what not to do.
Consider becoming the embodiment of what to do.
Is it any wonder many of us rebelled and left as soon as we could?!
Is it any wonder that many of us continue to hold resentments about events, and people, that haven’t existed for 20, 30 or 40 years?
To break this cycle, I say “yes” as much as possible. Yes to beachcombing. Yes to downhill skiing. Yes to painting. Yes to card games.
Stay open to experience.
Stay open to love.