When I learn something complicated, I like to see the big picture first, then follow up with the details. So, I am going to share a whole overview of the stages I went through to find out my recipe for parenting. Unfortunately, it was more like an aged cheese than a microwave dinner, and took many years to develop. If you are experiencing some of the same things I did, I hope it goes faster for you! In future posts, I’ll explain how I got from one point to another. Is there something you’re curious about now? Ask, and maybe I can get to that topic first!
Stage 1: Discovering that my authoritarian formula didn’t work
Stage 2: Trying to improve my implementation of the faulty authoritarian formula
Stage 3: Trying to figure out what was wrong with my son, since he didn’t respond how he was supposed to
Stage 4: Abandoning the intimidation-based (authoritarian) discipline formula. So, I was left with a gap to fill. I wandered through a parenting desert, with a confused mix of permissiveness and strictness.
Stage 5: Starting to recognize empathy and emotional intelligence as important skills for parenting (for relationships, too!)
Stage 6: Realizing that my children learned more from who I am than from what I did. Realizing that I needed to change on the inside. (When I write this stage, I imagine a choir of angels singing out a joyful note.)
Stage 7: Looking inward. Discovering the four horsemen of my parenting apocalypse: Anger, Perfectionism, Stoicism, and Guilt
Stage 8: Learning a better way, which meant combating anger, perfectionism, stoicism and guilt with a balance of empathy and boundaries
Stage 9: Practicing a better way. Faltering sometimes, but getting back up and trying again. This is where I am now