I recently finished the eight week DVD course entitled The Power to Parent: The Vital Connection by Dr. Gordon Neufeld, a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist. It literally transformed my parenting by giving me a new way to understand myself and my kids and the relationship that exists between us. He helped me see that a relationship is a living organism, capable of change and growth at any time, and that if I am connected to my kids, that influence will last forever.
When I finished the course, I posted a Facebook status about how I was going to miss it, and I was surprised by the amount of comments it received. Parents are hungry for information on new and healthier ways of raising children. I know I am, and it's a common thing to want to be a better mother in the future than we are today.
As a result, I have decided to do my best to distill down an hour of intense learning into a blog post, and I will do them once a week, on Thursdays. I will do eight of them, in order, as the material builds concept upon concept so you need the foundation to be able to better understand it. I found that I needed a lot of time for the ideas to internalize. Much of what I learned was deeply emotional, connected to how I felt in childhood, and much of the work involved is looking at yourself as honestly as possible to address what has been broken in you in order to find and fix it in your kids.
I highly recommend taking the course. You can do the same course I did online for $250 through Dr. Neufeld's website. These blog posts are only going to be a taste of the material, but if it helps, and you don't have $250 at this moment, hopefully it's a good starting point (and I called to be sure it wasn't breaching any copyright and I was offered permission to write these posts). I feel passionate about what I learned and would love to share it with anyone who is interested.
With all of that said, here is a short breakdown of the first session. It's about the connection between parent and child, and that is where the power to parent is found, as responsibility with no power leads directly to frustration. We have more information on parenting than ever before, but less authority. We have the ability to take back our power as parents.
Parenting is not about skills. It's not about the parent loving the child, but rather the child loving the parent. The parent must have the heart of the child in order to parent, and the relationship defines the connection. This is referred to as attachment: that drive or relationship characterized by the pursuit and preservation of proximity. Equality doesn't exist in attachment. One person is the caretaker and the other is in the dependent position.
We need our children to feel motivated to be good, not because they will be rewarded, but because they are attached to us, and they need the attachment as much as they need air, food and shelter. We must parent in the context of the motivation to be good. Under all behavioural problems are relationship problems. We take for granted that because we love our kids, they love us back, but if we don't have their hearts, the love isn't there.
There is a difference between power that is natural and force that is contrived. Attachment power is invisible, seeks influence, evokes deference that does not humiliate and is power to take care of a child. Contrived force is paraded with attention drawn to it, seeks capitulation, humiliates and is power over a child. If we work at attachment instead of behaviour, we will come out further ahead with our kids.
That's a few highlights from the first session. Each of the eight sessions builds on what comes before. Patience is required (not one of my strong suits), but I learned in this course that patience as a parent is one of our strongest skills. It doesn't have to be done or learned or practiced all at once. It takes a lifetime, and that's the point: to grow into maturity. The connection is key. Everything flows from the relationship between parent to child, and the level of attachment and safety which exists inside of it.