Thursday

to change your mind {peaceful parenting 101}

something that i have heard over and over again as a parent is
"don't change your mind," "stand firm," "don't back down."
this just baffles me.
it is as if we believe that, as parents, we are infallible and
the decisions we make are perfect.
and if that is not the case then
we are so worried about losing our place of authority
in our children's lives
that we can't change our minds or hear arguments
even when we should.


the next peaceful parenting topic i want to discuss is
changing your mind.

it's okay to say no, think about it or hear arguments from your children,
and then say yes.
it's okay to ask your child to do something and then,
if they scoff or ask not to, tell them they don't have to.
it doesn't make them not respect you, it's not a challenge
to your authority, in fact i would venture to say
it will make your children respect you more, give you real
authority to speak into their lives.
why?
you are showing your children that what they think is
just as important as what you think.  you are caring about their needs,
their wants, giving them a voice in life.
and when you care about your children's feelings and desires,
they in turn will care about yours.



in our home, everyone helps out and everyone has a voice.
it is understood that after breakfast, lunch and dinner everyone will
help to put the house into order.  other than that,
everything is up for discussion.



"layla, can you please take pearl outside?"
"i have five more rows to knit in this project mama,
can someone else do it?"
"sure."

or

"mama, can we go in the pool?"
"not right now honey."
"why?"
"i have a lot to do inside, i don't want to go out right now."
"please mama, it's really hot. can we go in the pool?"
"ok, let's go."



in order to parent peacefully there are a few principles we follow
that really go against the typical parenting flow.

  • no is not the final answer.
  • it's always okay to use your voice.
  • everything is open for discussion
now with these ideas in mind you might think there is quite a bit of chaos and anarchy here.
but that is not really the case.
see,
because we hear each other and give thought to each other's needs,
my kids have learned empathy.  they consider others.
if i ask them to do something and they ask to not do it and
i explain why it is necessary at that moment, they will do it without complaint.
respect goes both ways.
 

so next time you say no to something and your kiddo asks why,
don't consider it defiance.  answer them, listen to them and then
ask yourself if that no was really necessary.  if it wasn't,
remember,

it's okay to change your mind.



peaceful parenting part 1
peaceful parenting part 2
peaceful parenting part 3

Monday

to forgive {peaceful parenting 101}

We have talked about preventing melt downs,
saying yes and refusing to implement arbitrary rules on our
path to peaceful parenting.
Today I want to talk about something
so very important ... forgiveness.

I screw up.
Often.
I desire to be a gentle, peaceful parent with
every ounce of who I am.
Yet still, I am made up of selfishness and laziness,
two things that war against my dreams of who I want to be.
I pray peace, whisper breath prayers throughout day,
sing, dance, play, snuggle, read, listen, invite children along
all day
and suddenly my feet are sore or
i finally settle down with a book for a moment or
the noise just hasn't stopped and i need a second of quiet or
a little one hits their sister for the tenth time and
i just. can't. do it.
I yell.
Or say something I instantly regret.
I screw up.



We all screw up.
But see, you can tell a lot about yourself by tuning in to
how you feel after you screw up.
Me,
I want to vomit.
Literally.
I raise my voice or spout off filth and
I feel sick to my stomach.
I can't handle it.
How could I have done/said that?
What is wrong with me?
Everything you strive for you just threw out the window!
I am so wracked with guilt after I fail that I would not be able to
move forward if not for that one
little thing taught to me by Christ Himself,
forgiveness.


Yes, I gently hold the hands of my children with
tears pouring down my face and
beg forgiveness of them.
They see my ache and know I feel the same wrong
that they do.
They hear my words and know my heart is broken.
I keep nothing locked behind walls under guise
of parental authority.  I lay it out.
I am no better than you, my love, no better.
As you fail at times, I do too, so much more.



And when their young mouth has spoken words of matter of fact and
why would you ever doubt forgiveness and
young eyes have regained glow
and young arms wrap around pained mama,
when they run off to play, moving past wrongs already forgotten,
forgiveness is begged of again,
this time of self.

This one is the most difficult and yet,
so very important.
It's the stop beating yourself up,
it's okay,
get back on the horse,
life moves on and so must you,
start over again {and again and again and again}
forgiveness.



You must move on.
You must forgive yourself.
You cannot be a peaceful parent if you are not at peace.
Realize, mama,
we all mess up.  We all fall short.
Forgive yourself and move on.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

It's when we can see clearly again,
when we remember our vision and are ready to set foot
as peacemakers,
when we have put our screw ups behind us and peace
enters our soul,
that we are ready to offer it to our children.




Without our own peace, we cannot make peace.
So allow your children to show you they forgive you and then,
forgive yourself.

***peaceful parenting 101 part 1 here
      peaceful parenting 101 part 2 here

to have mutual respect {peaceful parenting 101}

I mentioned something in my first peaceful parenting post that raised a few eyebrows. I said that I am a yes mama and gave examples of areas where I just say yes. I mentioned that if I am making dinner and someone asks for a bowl of cereal, I will give them cereal and how I let my kids stay up if they are not tired. A couple readers sent me confused emails asking why, telling me how irritated they would be if their kids asked for cereal while dinner was cooking.  And I get it, I have been there.

But see, I began to view parenting from a place of respect and that caused me to question a lot of society's parenting norms which are just quite arbitrary. Take food for instance. How much sense does it make to shove specific foods down a child's throat at a specific time? And how would you feel if it was done to you? Instead, I fill my home with healthy, natural, organic, non-gmo foods and allow my children free reign of our pantry when they are hungry. Just as my husband and I have free reign when we are.



What about bedtimes? Have you ever gone to bed and, unable to fall asleep, laid there for hours? It's awful. Now imagine being forced to lay there, unable to get up until you were tired, tossing and turning, far from sleep. It's like that for so many children. So my kids go to bed when they are tired.

What does that look like in our home?  Most nights my littles have a rhythm. Moses and Pearl are ready for bed between 630 and 700. I nurse Pearl and she falls asleep. Moses will find me and ask me to rock him to sleep, climb into my lap and I will read him a story until he turns around, lays his head on my shoulder and I sing to him as he drifts off.



Typically the twins are in bed between 8 and 9.  They will get in pajamas and pick out clothes for the following day, play or watch a show with us and then I ask them if they are ready for their book {currently we are reading Arthur of Albion}.  If they are, we snuggle in their bed, read, pray and then I lay with them a bit.  Some nights though, one or both of the girls aren't ready when I ask and so they stay up with us, watching whatever we watch or coloring or playing, until they climb up with daddy and I and fall asleep.  Josiah decides to go to bed around 930-10 and Layla stays up reading and writing later than anyone in the house, falling asleep on the couch or crawling into bed when her eyes finally begin to get heavy.

We just really try to have a family where mutual respect flourishes.  We ask ourselves how we would want to be treated and if what we are asking of our children is something that we would want to be asked ourselves.  If it is not, then we don't ask it of them.  Peace is our goal.  Mutual respect is one of the means.



Have you considered how arbitrary some of society's parental norms are?  Do you go against the grain in any way?

*for part 1 of the peaceful parenting 101 series, go here

Tuesday

to prevent the meltdown {peaceful parenting 101}

I have a daughter that is a screamer, a child who cannot handle disappointment.
Remember the one who broke down at Disneyland?
She makes my heart soar with that smile, that laugh.  She makes up stories and
rambles, telling them for hours and makes sure you hear every word.  She is witty,
sassy, and remarkably quick.  She prays and asks Jesus to "speak up," climbs into
laps and snuggles close.


And she melts down.  Easily.  When she cannot go where she wants, play with what she wants,
do exactly what she wants at the moment she yells, screams, becomes inconsolable.
Her face and body tense up as she screams and my heart breaks for her,
knowing she doesn't want to be out of control, knowing she longs to be wrapped in arms.



She's not manipulative or trying to get her way,
she's just disappointed and does not yet know how to deal with those big emotions.
What's a mama to do?

I'm a yes mama.  I say yes most of the time.
If I am making dinner and my kids ask
for a bowl of cereal, I give them one.
If I say let's go to bed and one of my kids says
they are not tired, I let them stay up.
I try not to impose arbitrary rules on my kids just as
I would not want them imposed on me.
I like to eat when I am hungry and sleep when I am tired.  I get that.

So when I tell my kids no there is a reason for it.
Like they want to go somewhere that we really
can't go right then or they want to take a toy someone else has.
Most of my children get it. If I say no, they say okay.
But not this sweet girl. Her disappointment overwhelms and
she can't control herself.



Our desire is to make our home, our family, a place of peace.
And so as parents we seek out ways to create and encourage it.
When you have a child that melts down every time she is disappointed
not only is that peace broken, but so is that precious child's spirit.
We do what we can then to prevent a meltdown before it happens.
 I thought I would share, and so I call this {can you believe it, I know it's such a strange title}...

How to prevent a meltdown
{peaceful parenting 101}

*these are not my ideas.  I know other people who follow similar methods and I am sure someone has probably written a book about these ideas.  So I can't take credit, just sharing what works for us on our 
peaceful parenting path*

Here is a typical scenario where we mindfully address our sweet girl before a meltdown occurs...

Hannah: I want to go the park now!
Me: You want to go to the park right now honey?
Hannah: Yes, you have to take me.
Me: I hear you baby.  You really want me to take you to the park right now.  I'm not saying we can't go but there are a few issues.  See, Pearl is napping and I am in the middle of making dinner.  That makes taking you to the park right now very difficult.  I know you want to go and I would love to take you but we have those other things to think of too.  Can you help me figure out what we can do about this?
Hannah: We can wake Pearl up and you can make dinner when we get home.
Me: Well, that might work except that I have already started dinner and I can't stop cooking in the middle of it.  Do you have any other ideas?
Hannah: No.
Me: Can I offer a suggestion?
Hannah: Ok.
Me: Maybe I can finish making dinner and we can eat and clean up and then if it's still light outside we can take a night trip to the park and play in the cool evening breeze, or if we don't have the time after dinner then we can get up and go first thing in the morning after breakfast?
Hannah: Ummmm...okay. 

Of course, not every time goes so smoothly and sometimes we have to work on a solution for awhile before we are both satisfied, but it helps her.  She knows we are listening to her and that her needs/wants are important to us.  She is also learning to consider the needs/wants of others and make a compromise.

So to sum up our meltdown prevention steps:
  1. Repeat her needs/wants to her after she voices them to show we understand and care.
  2. Share our own needs/wants.
  3. Find a solution together.
 

There is such peace when a family works together, considering the needs and desires of one another.  My prayer is that our family and yours is able to continue to move forward, walking in that peace and learning how to help each other.  I would love to help and encourage you in your peaceful parenting journey.  Do you have any questions about our meltdown prevention or any advice to share?


Saturday

to be content, not complacent

I am burdened/blessed with a restless soul.
I struggle with finding a balance between contentment and
what sixpence none the richer so aptly called
divine discontent.
Because I know we are supposed to be content,
whatever the circumstances.
And yet there is something about a divine discontentment that just
rings true.
Always pressing forward, always seeking to move further in,
never settling.
So maybe it's not about contentment vs. discontentment.
Maybe it's about being content,
but not being complacent. 



I can be content in my circumstances and still deeply desire
to move on, to grow.
Find a balance.
Be content with what God has placed before me,
the life I have,
be content and pour out gratefulness,
cup running over,
know that if my hands never hold more than what they do at this moment,
it is okay.  Not just okay, beautiful.
Yet still,
in knowing that,
seeking to grow, to serve, to move on in whatever form
God gives me and not being so set,
so settled in what I already have that
I refuse to hear, to move, to go, to do.



Content but not complacent.
I give thanks unceasing for these amazing children and the husband who has my heart,
for the ability to stay home, growing and learning along with the young ones,
for home where I birthed the babe, chickens roam amongst the grass and
enormous trees shade us through the warm summer months.
Thanks that God has led us out of the institutional church, away from that which is
beginning to look less and less like the One it claims to follow.
I give thanks for the abundance that my hands hold and am content with
all that has been set before me.



Still, my restless spirit dreams and hopes,
It envisions what might be and seeks the face of
the One who gives, readying for movement, for change,
for wherever He might lead.

Content but not complacent.
Balance found
for this restless soul.

Monday

to dream and not be ashamed

If i could I would kill the clock.
We would rise with sun streaming through windows,
beckoning to us to meet it's sacred face,
sleep when eyes heaviness became too much to bare
and eat, play, go, move as naturally as seasons change
without something to sound and remind them to get on with it.


If I could I would live free,
without need or want of money.
Lives would be handmade and
communities would be made up of people who helped others, gave and traded.



If I could I would make my living room into a gathering place for the church,
where coffee and tea would promote laid back, comfortable discussion and
no idea would be ridiculed and children would roam free and be loved.



If I could I would live in a cabin in the forest,
canopy of trees draping over us,
where snow would fall thick and we would warm ourselves
with quilts and dancing red fire during winter's deep.



Or maybe in a Hobbit hole,
hunkered down in the last homely house,
drinking tea and filling young stomachs while
green grows everywhere, a sea,
in the Shire.

If I could I would speak in poetry,
verse flowing eloquently,
words giving life to those who hear and
beauty resonating from broken lips.
 

If I could I would tell those naysayers,
those who say dreamers need to stay grounded,
need to keep their heads out of the clouds,
I would tell them dreams focus a person, dreams
cause movement,
dreams keep the broken going forward.
Dreams keep the broken going forward.

I am the broken.
If I could I would dream.
That,
I can do.

"A dreamer is one who can only find his way
by moonlight, and his punishment is
that he sees the dawn before the rest of
the world."
-Oscar Wilde 

Saturday

to find peace this weekend

hope your weekend is full of peace.


peaceful links to ponder this weekend...

tonia's beautiful poem
amy's honest parenting post
diana's sermon... wow
a look at suzy's beautiful homeschool day

xoxoxo... love to you all.