Infectiously Happy

The Compassionate Parent.

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When I was a child, even now as an adult, I was blessed to know that my mother will “understand”. I mean she may not approve or agree. She may advice or discipline but I can always count on her to consider my perspective, to UNDERSTAND that my feelings, no matter how different than her own were valid. I can never fully thank her for this gift. It created a security for me, a sense of knowing that I was safe with her, that I was loved and cherished. It effected my own decisions, it ensured I set boundaries and chose a partner who made me feel that same way. Since giving birth to Palmer, I have had to think to myself, “How do I create this same feeling for him?” How do I parent with compassion? How do I find the balance between creating structure and supporting his own exploration?

Remember how it felt. Each of us is walking in our own perception. Even a baby. Of course as the parent you have been there, done that, but once you were a small child, or a teenager. If your childhood was blissful tap into the things that made it so, but if it was painful tap into that also. Putting yourself back into the frame of mind of a small baby who is cold or hungry, makes it easier to know that he or she isn’t crying because they are spoiled… they are crying because they need you. They have limited ability to express themselves. I learned early that different cries can mean different things. Whether my little one is hungry or just needs a hug I remember that we all cry out for help sometimes and we all deserve to be comforted…

Let go of control. Palmer doesn’t belong to me. He is his own person, created through Frenchie and I. We are here to teach him important lessons but if parenting has taught me anything, it’s that I am only in control of my own mind. I can do everything “right” and he can still be grumpy or refuse his food. I try to create the best possible situation by making sure he is well fed and has fun but he can still fall out on the floor over seemingly nothing and I have no control over it. Learning to roll with the punches and remain flexible has made all the difference.

Be respectful. Every day we are teaching our children how to interact with the world around them. This is no less true when it comes to being respectful. Sometimes I have to make Palmer do things he doesn’t want to… Wear a seat belt, get his diaper changed, go to bed… It is the nature of our relationship. I can however still respect him in the process. I still speak kindly to him, don’t force him into affection with anyone and make allowances for the fact that Target is only a fun place for a short amount of time. I respect the fact that he doesn’t know what an inside voice is yet and if something is round like a ball he is throwing it. He is learning. He deserves my compassion. How will he learn to be compassionate if he was always met with yelling and unkind words for each and every misstep?

Communicate. I am a talker. I like to use my words. Anyone who knows me will tell you that, even Palmer. Before he was even born I talked to him about anything. And once he made his way into the world it has continued. I talk to him about our plans for the day, who he will see, what I might need from him. I remind him that he is loved and I thank him for being patient and kind. Once in a grocery store I was explaining to my then 6 month old the ingredients I needed for a new Thai dish I saw on Pinterest and a woman coming down the aisle remarked that from the other side of the wall she thought I was speaking to a school aged child! I talk to Palmer like this for a few reasons but the main one is because my own mom did it for me. It taught me how to speak, playing a huge part in my own ability now to communicate exactly how I feel, what I need and how I set boundaries. And before you roll your eyes and sound off about children having a place and not having to explain yourself to a kid just know that one day your child will be a grown up and they need to know they have a voice. They learn how to use that voice from you.

I will never be able to fully articulate the gratitude I have for the way my mother chose to parent me. She allowed me to ask questions, explained why her decision was the final one but also always listened to me. It helped establish the value I have for myself and others. In the house I grew up in there were rules but there was also freedom. There was always an emphasis on love. She got her point across without belittling me or embarrassing me. She didn’t say no because she could. I was allowed to make decisions and she enforced consequences in fair ways with out cruelty or malice. I sometimes wonder if it was a conscious choice or something she innately did. I can only say that it is how I choose to be with Palmer. When he is out in a world bigger than he currently knows I want him to have a standard of compassion for his interactions with himself and others. That standard starts with me.

Until next time…

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4 thoughts on “The Compassionate Parent.

  1. Thank you for this!! I’m doing the same thing with Madison. She has a voice already where she expresses her likes, dislikes, when she needs to be comforted, wants a toy, and just wants to cuddle with mommy or laugh with daddy. Although I can’t always understand her, it does start early. This was encouraging. :)

  2. You have always been such a funny person (crazy in good way) yet wise beyond your years but to read this post and to know how even more wise Palmer has made you makes me tearful. You are at the age where you remember things from your childhood and then at the same time see it from a parent’s view. You can keep the things that worked and re-invent the ones that didn’t. God Bless! Palmer did really good when he was picking his parents. Love you guys.

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