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Positive parenting is hard. But if you ever feel that it isn’t right for you, please read this. It may change the way you feel about this.
“Do you remember when you told me about positive parenting?”, she asked just a few moments after we sat on the bench.
Some time ago I met C. in the park, and we talked almost daily for two months. Then she moved to another area of the town, and we lost contact.
One day we met again in another park, and we started talking on a bench close to where our kids were playing. I remembered talking to her about positive parenting and the reasons why I love it. And I was surprised that she mentioned it after such a long time.
“I tried what you said”, she continued.
I was so happy to hear that! But what followed quickly took away that joy.
“But it didn’t work. I tried everything, and it just didn’t work. So maybe it wasn’t right for us.”
I truly believe that positive parenting is great for every child and every parent.
But I also know that there are times when nothing seems to work, and this can be very discouraging, especially for someone who is just starting implementing it.
As she started telling me the whole story, I remained quiet and tried to find something helpful to say.
But before I got the chance to say anything, another mom stopped to greet us. She was running in the park as she did almost every day since she decided to lose weight. I saw her so many times and admired her determination!
We asked how the weight loss is going, and she told us that she hasn’t seen any progress in the last two weeks. But that determination that I loved about her was still there. So she smiled and told us that she will keep running every day because she knows that it is worth the effort.
Soon after she left to continue her workout, C. left too because her son was hungry and anxious to get home.
And as I sat on the bench alone, I kept thinking about these two totally different conversations. In fact, positive parenting has much more in common with a weight loss program than I ever thought!
I know that it sounds strange, but please think about this for a moment.
When a mom wants to lose weight, she can either choose a program with a healthy diet and regular workouts or a program that implies starving or other unhealthy methods.
In the short run, the differences may not seem so big. It can even seem that the unhealthy program is bringing more results. Or that the healthy program requires a lot of effort that doesn’t pay off so well.
But in the long run, the differences are huge! Someone who follows a healthy program with a balanced diet and an active life will have better health, both physically and mentally. On the other hand, someone who follows an unhealthy program will deteriorate her health or even regain the weight after a while and have more difficulties in losing it again.
Leaving a healthy program just because you don’t see results in a couple of weeks doesn’t mean that the program is not working. It just means that you gave up before you had the chance to see the results.
The exact same principle applies to parenting.
In the short run, it may seem that a parenting style based on punitive methods works better and requires less effort. Positive parenting, on the other hand, implies a lot of involvement and emotional availability from the parent.
But the big differences are a lot more obvious in the long run. Because science shows that kids who were raised using a positive parenting style are more likely to become happy and confident adults. And this makes all those efforts totally worthwhile!
Positive parenting is hard work.
I know it is. But all the great things in life are achieved with hard work and determination.
Sometimes it may seem that it doesn’t work for you. It may seem that you don’t have the patience and energy that it takes. Or that your child is not reacting to anything you try.
And I want you to know that this is normal! I know how it feels because I’ve been there.
The truth is that no matter what you do, there will be moments when things will not work as you wish. But exactly those difficult moments are the ones that matter the most.
Being a good parent when everything goes well is easy. Is being a gentle parent in the moments when things are the most challenging that makes a real difference in a child’s life.
So if you feel that positive parenting is not good for you, please don’t give up.
It takes patience and time to make it work. It takes effort.
You will face challenges along the road. You will make mistakes. And you will learn from them.
But in the end, your unconditional love and support will be the foundation of your child’s happiness. And this is the greatest accomplishment that you can have as a parent!
I never had the chance to say this to C. when she told me her story. And I wish I would have said something.
I can’t change the fact that I remained silent that day. That I haven’t encouraged her not to give up. That I let her believe that being a gentle parent is not an option for her. Because I know it is!
All I can do is to write this post, hoping that it will help other moms who feel the same as she did that day. And deep in my heart, to hope that she will try again.
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