Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Wages of Inconsistency

Hold Tight Only to Compassion
It has been said by experts, "You must be consistent, or your children will be confused."
Who among us is consistent?
Circumstances are always changing.

Children become confused when parents become rigid,
holding rules above love.
Be consistently flexible.
Hold tight only to compassion.
~from The Parent's Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

This quote was on the top of my Facebook News Feed this afternoon. It's something I struggle with on a daily basis: how often I parent from the place of "this is what we've done before, so the answer is NO!" or something to that effect.

Compassion, as it feeds our ability for empathy, is the foundation parenting principle of the Echo Center. Current research with children reveals that emotional intelligence is tantamount for brain development. Further, it offers that connecting with children and recognizing their emotions in the moment (i.e. the flailing little girl at the store, or the suddenly sad and "acting-out" little boy over leaving home for that appointment) provides for more whole, compassionate people when the child is older. My kneejerk response is to correct out of an (understandable) frustration towards the desired behavior of said child. This quote and the Echo Center paradigm runs counter (and counter-cultural) with the current philosophy of parenting: discipline towards compliance. "Good" boys and girls, via proper behavior, is the parenting goal for many of us.

Myself included: I often fall into disciplining for compliance, despite my time and effort with the Echo Center and desire for an empathetic connection to my boys. My real struggle is this walking the line of compliance and parenthood, vs. connecting my children in their emotions. Directing or disciplining that doesn't fall into that "command and control" mentality is a hard road to walk for me.

How do I love my kids, and allow them to be children? How do I teach them compassion, when my own experience has been compliance? Further, how does one do this well, without being overly permissive as parents, instilling a sense of respect and proper posture between parent and child?

What are your thoughts?