Ten Steps to More Peaceful Parenting.


When I wrote this post earlier this month I was surprised by the powerful response it received. You commented, you shared, you emailed, you reached out. Some of you saw yourself in the child, others saw themselves in the mother. Many of you stressed that we can not possibly know the context of this moment and must be careful before we judge another.

And you're right. I don't know their story.

So I decided to start with a few assumptions and see if that changed my take on their dynamic. For the sake of this discussion I assumed that there were some stressful extenuating circumstances – that their day had started bad and gotten worse, that there was a family crisis going on at home, that the child had been acting out in a big way for weeks, and that the mother was suffering from some emotional trials of her own.

While I am sensitive to this new story and my heart goes out to the family I created in my mind, it didn't change much for me.

Even in this new context I don't think it is okay to shame or disrespect a child. Period. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Pretty simple, except when we try to apply it to how we parent. Then it gets messy. 

Because, quite simply, we often don't treat children with the respect that they inherently deserve.

If I told you the same story but instead of a mother and child it was a husband speaking to his wife would you excuse the behavior? What if it was an adult talking to their elderly parent? Would it be okay then? Would we say "Maybe they were having a hard day." and see their behavior as acceptable?  Or would we expect them to find a way in which to heal their own hurts so that they could treat their partner or parent with the respect that they deserve? I think – and hope – it would be the latter.

Children have been demoted to the bottom of the worthy-of-respect continuum in our culture. We force them to do what we think is important; we tell them we know better than they; we believe that losing our cool is somehow more acceptable in the context of childhood.

And I wholeheartedly disagree. We can be the grown-up and hold that place of responsibility without disrespecting our kids. I just know we can.

Truth be told, I sometimes yell. Sometimes I even swear. (Yes, around/at my children). I've slammed doors, pounded my fists on the carpeting, and thrown things down dramatically in frustration. Yes – there have been moments when I've been bossy, rude, and/or disrespectful to every member of my family. Now you know. I can be a bitch too.

Yup, sometimes I totally and utterly lose it. And my losing it likely either more or less dramatic than yours, depending on your personality and your context. Maybe for you "losing it" means striking your child or letting a distressed baby cry without you coming. Or maybe "losing it" means saying something snarky to your partner when they come home, snapping at your child, or drinking too much at the end of the day. Maybe "losing it" means saying words that hurt more than hands – angry, shaming words. Words you can never take back. Or maybe it means being less gentle than usual when you put your child in their car seat. Chances are, you lose it now and then in your own way.

And whether you lose it once a year or dozens of times per day is beside the point. Because we are all imperfect. And always will be. And within that imperfection, we all starting at our own perfect place. Because from where we now stand each and every one of us can strive to do better at this job we volunteered for. We can be mindful and choose to do right by our children, just a bit more than we did yesterday.

What would happen if we decided to simply do better?

I strive to parent peacefully. Almost every day. And I don't know many other families who don't use punitive strategies with their kids in an attempt to control behavior (punitive being everything from loss of privileges to time-out to spanking). Pete told me recently that I'm always a more patient parent on Tuesday night – after hanging out with another NVC (non-violent communication)-parenting mom. Because she inspires me. And it transforms how I engage with my kids. I learn new strategies just by being with her once a week.

A very different mother/friend called me for parenting advice last week. She was in a challenging time with her little one and needed a perspective shift. We do things differently and she had a hunch that my ideas might help them through this challenge. I offered some gentle-parenting strategies and a few days later she called to say how their dynamic had transformed because of our discussion. Literally within minutes of hanging up the phone. She was applying the principles we talked about (within the context of her own parenting style) and seeing her connection with her child deepen. I was amazed.

And those two mamas in my world made me wonder – what would happen if we could open a conversation here to elevate our experience as parents? I think we could all realize real change. You, me, anyone we invited into the conversation.

Ten weeks, ten posts, ten different strategies to lovingly apply to your relationship to your child.

Are you in?

But before we begin, let's take a moment for gratitude. Because gratitude takes what is before us and shows us the shiny bits. The best parts of our imperfect reality.

Your kids – what do you appreciate? Tell me what their sparkle is.


Edited to add: To follow this series through, just click on the category "Non-Violent Parenting" at left and you'll be all set.

64 thoughts on “Ten Steps to More Peaceful Parenting.

  1. kari b. says:

    I’m so in 🙂
    My two year old wants to do everything himself, which is very endearing and also very trying. I love how he kisses both my cheeks before curling up into a little tiny ball in my lap like he never even left my womb. His will is strong and his imagination is growing in leaps and bounds. I marvel each day as I watch this little person unfold before my eyes.
    I really look forward to your posts on this subject! Thank you Rachel!

  2. tameka says:

    Thanks for this post. And count me in!
    My almost 5 year old loves letters. Print, cursive, and different fonts. He finds letters in everything. While walking through the woods, he sees them in the shapes of the twigs on trees or the branches. He sees them in the clouds. The other day, he noticed his noodles were shaped like the letter “Y”. He amazes me and makes me think of what I may have missed or not noticed as a child. I cherish him and am grateful and honored to be his mom.

  3. Genevieve says:

    I’m in! I only have a 9mo daughter but I so want to learn strategies to being a better parent. I have great parents, but you couldn’t call my upbringing “Peaceful Parenting.” Wanting to learn to do things DIFFERENT 🙂

  4. Susie says:

    I’m in. My nearly-four-year old is strong, independent and calls me up on any injustice my less-than-fair parenting moments deal out. I am grateful that he doesn’t accept that there is one rule for him and one rule for me. In his eyes, we are all to be treated the same. My twenty-two month old is beginning to exert her will and I welcome and accept this so much more willingly and joyfully that I did with my son.
    Thank you Rachel – I really needed to think about my children like this today.

  5. Nettie Black says:

    I am definitely in! I appreciate our 4 year old daughter’s love for life. She finds the magic in everything and helps me to slow down. I also love her humor, silliness and little ways she finds to get us all laughing and smiling together. Simple comments she makes at mealtime such as “let’s all laugh and giggle now”.

  6. Vielhaber says:

    “If I told you the same story but instead of a mother and child it was a husband speaking to his wife would you excuse the behavior? What if it was an adult talking to their elderly parent? Would it be okay then? Would we say “Maybe they were having a hard day.” and see their behavior as okay? Or would we expect them to find a way in which to heal their own hurts so that they could treat their partner or parent with the respect that they deserve? I think – and hope – it would be the latter.”

    It bears repeating.

  7. Shannon says:

    Thanks for this……I’m in! I love that my 20 month old makes her own mash ups of her favourite songs and sings them as often and as loud as she can. Oh I can go on for a long time about all I love and appreciate about her.

    I do need reminding of this though, especially when my 8 month pregnant body is so over wanting to nurse her….and she just won’t sleep!

  8. Thepaganfairy.wordpress.com says:

    I’m in too. My father struck me and my siblings, like he was by his father. I vowed this would end with me. And it has to this date. I strive to peaceful parenting too and try my best at non-violent communication. It’s tough, I never had a role model for it, the books of Thomas Gordon and Aletha Solter help me tremendously. And of course my husband is

    My daughter is such a sweet sweet girl. She’s almost 3 years old! She will walk to me and give me a rub on my leg, look up with those pretty brown eyes and say “wonderful person”. With this very special affirming tone in her voice. She is the kindest person I know. That is her biggest sparkle. (one of many)

    It moves me to tears just typing this. She thinks I’m a wonderful person, even though I don’t always think I am. Actually, most of the time I don’t think I am. I’ve been taught to always be ready for my father to suddenly get mad about something, something I did or didn’t do or didn’t do good enough. The girl in the story… I know exactly how she must have felt.
    I’d rather die before I ever, EVER, cause my children feeling like that. I honor the sparkle!

  9. Sarah says:

    Rachel, I agree so much with what you are saying. I truly believe respect should be the basis of parenting and of how society as a whole relates to children. And, I love the way you turned this idea on it’s head by asking if we would excuse someone treating their spouse or parent this way. Genius! Because, no, we wouldn’t excuse it! We excuse it in parents (well, I don’t…) because we know how hard parenting is or because kids behavior makes us uncomfortable or because it’s so common, or like you said, because we ourselves have “lost it” plenty of times. A million excuses, but none are good enough.
    Children deserve the same amount of respect. They are people! In spite of (or because of) the fact that they are inherently and naturally immature, they need this thoughtfulness more! We might have to try ten times harder to show this kind of respect, but it is a worthwhile cause! Thanks for this!

  10. Amanda says:

    I’m in. Thanks for this post. I had a trying day today with my oldest. We are all imperfect. For Lent this year, I decided rather than give up soda or sweets, I’d focus on improving my parenting, and try not to yell. I have been thinking a lot about how if I don’t yell for 40 days, how it would change my life. It will change it.

  11. sarah* says:

    yes! totally in. and very excited about it, rachel!
    i see my three-but-soon-to-be-four-year-old daughter’s sparkles all the time. and i know, daily, that even when it’s a trying hour or day, she’s still completely rad in my eye, even if she’s doing things i’d rather she didn’t do. i feel very grateful for that. she’s so self-possessed. funny, sweet, articulate, interested, interesting, helpful, stubborn, awake. i appreciate all her attributes, even the stubbornness, and even through my (sometimes) frustration at her stubbornness. i also appreciate the spontaneous love affirmations from her. she’s just so clean and clear. it’s inspiring.
    mostly, i can’t get enough of her. even though i often want uninterrupted hours to knit. 😉
    i feel very lucky and very grateful to be in her presence so much of the/my time. she inspires me to remember to be the best me i can. not just for her, of course. for me, for her, for my husband, for my community, and rippling on out into the universe as far as these butterfly’s wings ripple.

  12. Dark Blue Dragon says:

    I am in as my oldest is turning 6 in June and we are starting to enter into a shift, closing in on that 7 year change. I find myself losing patience much more than I care to. I also have a 2 year old who is very very 2 and that also throws my patience out the window. I am all for working on myself to be a better parent, and a better person in general.
    As for sparkle…
    I love the way my oldest will stop and watch the sunset every night and that he makes all of us stop and watch it with him. He makes us observe the colours and we aren’t allowed to talk until it is over. Every night.
    I love the way my littlest can light up a room with his smile. So full of joy, so full of confidence, so full of love.
    I am a very lucky Mama.

  13. Sherrie says:

    I’m looking forward to this, Rachel. We tend to take away privileges when undesired behaviours surface with our 4 year old, and it just doesn’t sit well with me, or seem terribly effective. But I need a clearly articulated plan for how to deal with those tricky situations when they arise. Yay!

    My four year old will include everyone when playing and will always try to make others feel better. His compassion is so wonderful to experience. He is so open and loving.

    My almost-two year old is ridiculously silly and goofy, and it reduces me to a mushy heap when he throws his little arms around my neck. His giggles and belly laughs are always at the ready.

  14. Kim says:

    Count me it!! Looking forward to your posts.

    My little man has a zest for life I have never seen. He lives each moment to it’s fullest and never doubts for a minute that it should be any other way. My goal as his mama is to keep that sparkle alive, to keep him living his life and his dreams to the absolute fullest. He deserves it.

  15. Mikaela Robertson says:

    Yay, Rachel! I don’t even have children (yet), but I love to talk parenting. I care very deeply about how children are treated, and having been raised by very gentle, mindful parents, I know that a better way exists than the one that many turn to for lack of an alternative. I’m lucky enough right now to get to spend two afternoons a week with some delightful kiddos, and I strive to be the very best caretaker for them that I can be. I’m always looking for ways to deal with those sticky situations that will leave everyone’s spirit intact. I look forward to your posts and this discussion.

  16. Lori says:

    Rachel Im totally in. Oh the sparkle in my sweet ones. My baby girl will be 8 soon and she’s so amazing. Shes got a beautiful imagination and can turn anything into an art project. She cares deeply about others and is the best big sister to her little brother, the love she has for him is beautiful. She is going to grow into such an amazing young lady.
    And my sweet, just turned two, boy. He knows exactly what he wants and goes after it with everything in him. He loves to laugh and to make others laugh. Hes so full-length of life. Running, jumping, climbing. As he nurses and falls asleep i look at his sweet face and realize hes not a baby anymore. Oh hes so amazing.
    Yes, words hurt. I know this all to well from first hand experience and i dont ever want to cause that kind of pain to my sweet babies.
    Thank-you Rachel.

  17. KC says:

    I’m totally in! I love that my toddler is sooo into books. I also love that she is a kinetic leaner, (something I just realized) I love that my infant smiles at me with such pure joy that I instantly get distracted from whatever I was doing.

    I strive very hard to practice NVC. However I find that my toddler who is described in some circles as high needs doesn’t always respond to respectful connection. So I’m looking forward to this discussion and maybe figuring out a way I can connect to her when she goes into the red zone.

  18. Dayle says:

    I’m in!! Looking forward to what you have to say. Parenting is not easy but I find that a change in perspective helps alot. It’s possible to parent peacefully with respect. And gratitude is a great place to start!

    I love my boys’ (3 and 5) unending ectitement to learn about everything. Has inspired me to learn new things too. I’m lucky to be at home with them.

    My favorite book on the subject is Connection Parenting by Pam Leo.

  19. Monica says:

    I am in. I, too, have a friend from whom I have learned invaluable parenting strategies just by observing ways she interacts with her kid (and with mine, during playdates). I have two lovely children; one is 2.5 yo and the other 7.5 mos. Right now I am loving listening to the older one chattering to herself in the background while she plays. I love that she always chooses to play on the floor right by her baby sister. I love her little arms and legs wrapping around me at night for cuddles as we drift off to sleep. And the baby, she is so content and full of baby joy, my little love.

    I am really interested to learn about this non-punitive business, because like someone commented above, I don’t find time-outs and loss of privileges very effective.

  20. Jillian says:

    I’m in!

    I am in awe at the empathy and compassion that my 3 year old son has for others. He is a kind and gentle old soul. He’s silly and creative and adventurous. He carries a survival pack with him everywhere we go and loves to build forts and hike and drink morning dew off Brussel sprout leaves in the garden. He is sensitive and sweet and in the morning when we wake he loves to kiss my cheek that has been warmed against the pillow. I truly love our time together in these early years. He is such a joy.

  21. Robyn says:

    Yes, i am most definitely in!

    Let’s see…when do i most appreciate about my almost 3 year old (gosh it’s hard to admit she’s almost 3).

    I love it when she insists on wearing her tutu, crown, and ballet slippers (which are really just regular slippers) to daycare every morning. I love when she tells me we can share my pillow at bedtime, because mine is more comfortable, even though her pillow is the same as mine. i love it that she can’t be talked into anything…it’s so frustrating at times, yet so reassuring to know that she is her own person and isn’t afraid to do her own thing.

  22. katie steege says:

    i am SO in! 🙂
    my 5 year old daughter is very sensitive and aware of her surroundings. she’s kind, generous, thoughtful, and giving! she’s very in-tune with her feelings and emotions. she loves with a BIG heart! the other day she told me, “mom, i know that you pray to be a good mommy, and you ARE and good mommy!” that sentence was “life confirmation” right there!
    my 3 year old son is full of energy, zest, spunk, and sweetness! he is the boy that will just come up to me, out of the blue, hug my leg and say, “i love you, mommy!” he has an incredible hunger … both physically and intellectually! 🙂 i spend most of my day in the kitchen trying to nourish his physical hunger! intellectually, he loves all things farming … the soil, the machinery, watching things grow, etc.
    i also parent twin baby girls that passed on. they are very much a part of our family and are greatly loved and missed!
    thank you for starting this communication on peaceful parenting! so excited!

  23. Michelle says:

    I’m in! My five-year-old is a firecracker, and we certainly struggle with her behavior. But I don’t want to change her zeal for life or her high energy – this is what makes her, well, “her.” She is such a delight, with a wonderful imagination. Many days she runs around pretending to be a unique combination of Sith Lord/princess (I’m EVIL! – she declares in her tutu, while swinging her lightsaber…). But in her calmer moments she is Momma to her stuffed kitties, lovingly dressing, changing their cloth diapers, even nursing them like she observes me doing with her younger brother (He’s 8 months so he still has a little while to go before I am chasing him around). I’m worn out at the end of each day spent with her, but it’s worth it. Oftentimes I watch them both sleep and feel like my heart could burst from the love I have for my kids.

  24. Aja says:

    I’m in! I love this and I so need it.

    My 12 year old…I love her sense of humor and her ability to make me laugh until I have tears streaming down my face(not many people can get me there). I love what a good friend she is and how she is always looking out for people. She is always the diplomat in a group and I love her ability to see every point of view. She is incredibly open minded. I also love what a fantastic big sister she is and what an amazing help she is to me on a daily basis.

    My 3 1/2 year old…I love how outgoing she is. I love listening to her sing at the top of her lungs. I again love her sense of humor. She is so full of energy and life. I love how very sweet she can be to everyone. I love seeing the world through her eyes. She is so happy. She is loud…:)

    my 1 year old….I love watching him discover…everything. Watching him walk. I love that when I pick him up he lays his head on my shoulder and pats my arm(he can’t reach my back) I love how happy he is and I love his huge toothy smile. I also love the new challenge of having a boy. Since the day he arrived he has had a look on his face that says “I’m just happy to be here” and I imagine that is who he will be. Happy. So so sweet to just watch him.

    What a great thing to just take the time to write down why we love them…I need to do this more often. I imagine it would be best to do on the most trying days with them…

  25. Amber J says:

    I love how my littlest daughter hugs tighter than anyone I have ever met in my entire life. I love how my oldest is so kind and loving with EVERYONE! Her teacher showed me a word play where she said it makes her happy to share her toys with her friends! WOW! It is so amazing these children of mine, I wanted to have them for so many years before I actually did and the prior losses have made this whole parenting thing that much sweeter. I love this quote by Tsultrim: “The path of the mother should be given its deserved value as a sacred and powerful spiritual path” I have learned more about myself and grown more as a human since becoming a mother to these AWE inspiring children than I did for all the years prior to birthing them. And its been a little over four years.

  26. Libby Hall says:

    My kids (ages 11, 7, and 3) each shine their own sort of sparkle, showing me everyday their delightful differences. Biggest is determined, nurturing and learning & reading everything she can reach. Middle is playful, self contented, sensitive and cautious. Littlest is musical, funny and insistent (that’s a quality). All are sweet and challenge us in many ways. I’m thankful for these challenges, as they shape us all into more compassionate people, but always welcome more arrows for the parenting quiver. Thank you for reaching out with your ideas.

  27. Lis says:

    My plate is rather full these days, so I’m not sure that I can commit to 10 weeks, but I felt that it was important for me to share the individuals sparkles of each of my three children.

    Owen – he is the most unassuming, outgoing, self-confident and forgiving 5 year old I have ever met. His passion for life is unmatched and his curiosity exhausting – in a good way most times ;).

    Nigel – an often surely, non-verbal almost 3 year old… BUT when you catch that moment, that vibrant and shy smile that makes his eyes sparkle and then suddenly you can see through the depths of his sweet and tender soul.

    Mary – most fussy of my three babies, nearly 6 months old – she has a smile and a giggle that simply makes the world right. When this baby girl smiles, it lights up her entire spirit and those that surround her. There is so much to learn about her, so much personality to be discovered, but for now – those flashy grins and sweet giggles are a ray of sunshine in my life.

    Thanks – that was just what I needed today as I begin another day in the adventures of motherhood.

  28. Karla says:

    Arrrgh… I have good intentions but inevitably lose it and start yelling and then hating myself for it. *sigh* Sometimes I honestly think my hormones are to blame because I feel possessed by another being. I often read of your peaceful parenting approach and think, “that sounds nice… but would never happen.”

    I know how blessed I am with my two beautiful children. They are such special individuals. My four-year-old readhead is a little fairy, flitting around wherever she goes. She loves to read and dress up and pretend and has a great imagination.

    My fair-headed two-year-old is a mama’s boy. He’s almost always cheerful and is eager to give hugs and kisses – I hope he never grows out of this! He loves trucks and tractors and tractors… and trucks. He’s always vroom-vrooming stuff and cracking us up the way he dresses up as a cowboy fireman. He’s such a big helper with his trusty toolbox, especially when Daddy is around.

  29. Emily says:

    Yes. I’m in. I need this.

    My daughters are so amazingly _their own people_. My three-year old has always been exuberant, loud, independent, forthright, and yet so very sweet and compassionate. My 19-month-old is relaxed, affectionate, humorous, puzzle-solving, and tender. More than anything else, I love when they sing together — never softly, never the same tune, but joyfully and together.

  30. Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds says:

    Yes, I’m in! I love it when we can come together as a community to help and support each other. even just an online community.

    I love visiting your blog because I know that I will always find honesty. Real talk. These are important things to talk about and though we may not all agree we can all offer respectful perspective on others’ situations.

  31. Willow says:

    i loved reading all these comments and everyone’s love for their babes! i think it is easy for many of us to forget what it was like to be a kid, and the sense of wonder that children approach the world with. we have the special task of guiding them into adulthood and we get to share with them all the best parts of being alive in this world. rachel, i think it is great that you are inspiring us all to parent more peacefully and consciously. my daughter is 2 and she is a bright shiny light, very observant and sweet and sensitive. everywhere we go people are drawn to her and i feel so lucky to be her mama. but i spend all day, everyday with her and inevitably, i get grouchy and i struggle with finding the balance between being a present mama and being my own person still. i’m looking forward to the next few weeks….fo shiz!

  32. Kim Akari says:

    Yes, please! I want to parent this way, I just can’t see how.

    My 4 year old Indigo is hilarious and quit-witted, I can see glimpses of the sassy woman she will grow up to be! My 2 year old Hazel is fearless and charming, quite the combination.

    I lose it almost every day and wish I had more self-control. I often feel like a hypocrite; expecting my kids to exercise control when their 33 year mama barely keeps her lid on. I’ll be waiting anxiously for your strategies!

  33. Sara Adams says:

    My five year old has such great capacity for joy. She has huge blue eyes and REALLY long eyelashes like her daddy and when she smiles, I mean Really smiles, it makes everything right in the world. She’s on the Autism Spectrum and has some serious social delays – she hits, bites, and screams until she’s blue in the face. When this happens, it helps to remember those bright blue eyes. I love her with as much intesity as she lives her life.

    My darling 2 year old is the mildest, sweetest little one I’ve met. She’s so peaceful most of the time she really is a good touchstone for me and an excellent reminder for me to keep peace in my daily life. Loving her is effortless.

    I am quite confident in what I do well and equally frustrated with that in which I fall short. I’m not embarassed or ashamed to ask for help. I do “lose it” but wouldn’t it be nicer to get the help I need before it comes to that? *sigh* I’m looking forward to this series of posts. Thank you.

  34. erica says:

    I’ve been thinking so much about re-looking at my parenting these days. When my eldest was a baby, I read lots and parented with so many ideals, but over the years I feel like so much of it has eroded into the busy-ness and stress of our lives. For the most part I still feel I”m a good parent, but wow are there areas I could be more observant and open. My eldest is 11 1/2 and she is the most amazingly gentle, intuitive, caring person I”ve ever known and I’m realizing I take advantage of that. I need to pay more attention to her, even though it’s the younger two who always seem to demand more of my attention. One observation I had today was she’s always wanting to be by my side, join in on the adult conversations, have tea with us rather than play with the other kids. My instinct is always to shoo her away so the adults can talk about stuff not always intended for her ears. But today I realized, wow it won’t be much longer before she’s moving away from me, I should EMBRACE this time of closeness with her, and respect her need to be near me. This time is really so fleeting, and I will miss it desperately one day – it is so much more important to nurture my bond with her rather than chat freely with friends. Thanks for your blog, lots of food for thoughts, I’ll enjoy seeing where this series goes!!!!!

  35. Danielle says:

    This is going to be GOOD!

    Oh, the sparkle, it’s there, isn’t it!

    My little guy, Ewan, is nearly three and he SPARKLES whenever he has a project. When he feels good and important and included he SHINES. He’s a helper, that one.

    My babe, Xander, is nearly one and he SPARKLES when he is doing the work of being a babe, learning new things and trying them out. He smiles to himself, even when he doesn’t know anyone is watching. LOVE THAT!

  36. Kyce says:

    I appreciate my children’s love for each other. I appreciate how skilled they can be at communicating with one another (they are 1 and 4) when I manage to refrain from interfering. I appreciate their devotion to rhythm and family. I am grateful for all they have taught me, all the growth they have inspired, all the old patterns they have helped me break free of. Bring it on, Rachel!

  37. Cheryl says:

    IN! I am so very grateful for my two little boys. They push me, challenge me daily in weird ways that have forced me to question everything. I have no doubt that we are all better off for it. They both have a nutz sense of humor, as I lay next to my 21 month old in the dark last night waiting for him to fall asleep he told him self little gibberish jokes and cracked himself up. It was so hard not to laugh too. Did I mention awesome imaginations? My 3 1/2 year old turned our whole house into a train today. When my husband came home he gave him the full tour of the different train cars. It’s hard not to feel like a kid again around them 🙂

  38. Jeanine says:

    I’m in…but without time to describe at the moment. I know though that each and every time I feel centered and grounded, ready for anything, my kids provide just the something that I was least expecting. In a good way, mind you. My teachers, for sure in this partnership. I look forward to reading your thoughts on parenting and all the lovely comments that are bound to show up here. 🙂

  39. Dana says:

    My son is delightful. He’ll be 20 this year. He’s in the Navy & lives in San Diego. I am very proud of the young man he has become. We are a very close at heart family. I miss him dearly, but I know this was the best plan. It’s good that he has had to learn to do things on his own and take care of himself. His confidence is building and will be a good foundation for him as a man.

    He’s smart and wise beyond his years. He sees the world in an amazing way that I learn from all the time. He’s caring, thoughtful and has a big heart. He loves his family and isn’t afraid to show it. He’s sentimental. He’s very creative. He makes me laugh and he makes me think. He is a good friend, but sometimes bossy. He’s perceptive and knows his mama well. He loves his dad and makes us both feel special in our own ways.

    He’s stubborn and sometimes sassy- just like his dad.
    He’s a bit messy but eventually has enough and goes on an organizing spree. He procrastinates – like his mama.

    Although he’s not a child anymore, parenting never ends. I think as parents we are always setting an example. I hope that, although we aren’t perfect and have made mistakes along the way, he’ll always find value in life we have tried to create for our family. His Dad and I love each other very much and it’s my hearts desire that he finds a similar love one day.

    My son sparkles. I see it. I see it in my mind’s eye and I hear it on the phone when we talk. I’m lucky he’s my son. ♥

  40. danyel says:

    My 5 year old is so tender and sensitive of others, particularly me. Our early months were a struggle that created a deep and beautiful connection over the months and years. He is an amazing observer, a thinker, he loves friends and family and he also loves quiet space. He’s always been a builder, a lover a babies and animals, and my little guy. He’s a spiritual giant and solution finder.

    My 3 year old is a party girl. She draws friends true with uncanny magnetism. She is so musical–dancing, singing, spinning, playing instruments. She loves poems, stories and play. She drew the imagination out of my 5 year old. She is willful and holds her own without apology. She loves to dress herself, particularly in ridiculously beautiful and fancy clothes and mismatched socks, shoes, and leg warmers.

    My 15 month old is a ham. She loves to make us laugh and she adores her siblings. She also loves music, animals, babies, and shoes. She is amazing at going to sleep and terrible at staying asleep. She is the cuddliest of all three of my snuggle bugs. She is curious and unafraid in the best and worst ways.

    My kids are definitely speeding me out of my own childishness and helping me to be more child-like at the same time. I adore them and have faith in their ability to rise above me. I just hope I don’t give them too much to rise above in the process so I can enjoy the ride with them.

  41. Susie says:

    Hi Robyn
    Glad I’m not the only one with a child that can’t be talked into anything! Although lately that has reduced me to bribery and corruption – which I’m keen to nip in the bud because that’s no use to either of us!

  42. Carol says:

    My children are grown, but I love your description of Sparkle. I have always used it to describe certain children. My own each have their own form of Sparkle. One is an actress & knows how to be “on” whether she feels it or not. I’m happy that she doesn’t need to be “on” when she is with family. The second has always had that spark in her eye – she is independent, bright and goal driven. The third is funny and creative. I wish he was a writer for SNL.

    When working with children, I always look for something that I like in each individual. Even the most frustrating child can have a smile that wins your heart.

  43. Gem says:

    My daughter is six months old. I did not expect to be a parent, and I am finding the responsibility overwhelming at times. She is such a beautiful, pure thing at this moment. She is so thoughtful already, so serious and yet quick to laugh and flash her big smile. I remember so clearly the moments in my childhood in which an adult was less than kind. Moments when my belief in myself was tested, even broken. I want so badly for my girl not to have those kinds of memories. I want her to grow up with a sureness in her own person that is effortless and complete. I am grateful that there are other parents that worry about this, too, and I am looking forward to this conversation.

  44. knittingmole says:

    OK. Now I’m teary and excited!!! Since my dh and I are still newbie parents, our little one being 15mo, I’m definitely looking for positive ways to parent. Thank you for doing this!

    Our little T is glowing with sparkly-ness, now to start observing to put it down in words…

  45. Kalista says:

    I’m so excited about this!

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. While dealing with a cranky, teething baby, I was reminded that I can often difuse the situation by altering my perspective. Instead of struggling to remain composed and get her to sleep, we were able to snuggle up in bed and she nursed peacefully to sleep. It was wonderful…and humbling. So thank you for reminding of the parent I want to be.

    My oldest daughter is extremely spirited (in a good way) and creative. She loves to work with her hands and explore. She is such a good big sister and loves to look out for the babies.

    My son is so curious and he loves to help me do everything. He is very energetic and finds joy in almost everything he does.

    My youngest daughter is very calm and focused. She watches everything around her with quiet focus. She smiles at everyone and laughs allthe time!

  46. Chris says:

    I’m going to add another thread to your story about the mom and little girl: Mom was treated the same way as a child, verbally and emotionally abused, raised by parents who never welcomed her attempts to emotionally connect with them. Quite possibly she was sexually abused as a child (1 in 3 or 4 girls are) and either her parents were the abusers or they were neglectful to the point of complicity. Maybe the secret of that abuse and the shame have been eating at her for decades, and she’s never known that she could share the secret and that would lighten her painful load.

    I see a lot of shaming–I do it to myself, I see blogs like this one that do more of it. Sometimes a life has been far more complicated, and far more painful, than we can admit to ourselves or understand when we look at others and try to imagine what’s going on for them. I see a woman like that and I think, “Wow, she was probably treated just like that as a child and perhaps worse. She’s probably carrying around a lot of pain, like so many others. I wish we lived in a society where people like that could be treated with the compassion and understanding they never got as a kid. Then they could slowly unlearn these hurtful patterns of relating.”

    Breaking the cycle of abuse is hard–especially in a day and age when the symptoms of abuse–depression, anxiety, rage–are more likely to be treated with pills than the deep inner work required to truly heal.

  47. shayray says:

    Just catching up here. My (our) 4 year old son… I appreciate so, so much about him. He is by far the most resilient person I know. He is beautifully kind to all. Not every day is easy, and he is quite naughty at times, but behind his big brown eyes is goodness.

  48. Rachel Wolf says:

    Lis, If you can find your way back here over the next 10 weeks or so, think of it as what you’d be doing anyway but with a twist. No homework, just a new vantage point for the day-to-day drama of parenting. Hope you can join us for a bit of it.

  49. susan says:

    I’m finally catching up on posts, so I’m a little late on this… But I’m excited for the coming discussions. I gravitate toward peaceful parenting ideals and ideas, but often I find myself having trouble “getting it” when it comes to practical application. I need to see things like that in action, in real life, to understand and absorb and incorporate, and seriously, YOU are my only “real life” example (real life being in quotations because, yes, I realize this is a blog and I’ve never actually met you ;). You are the only person I’ve ever heard actually trying to get away from reward/punishment systems of discipline. (Another reason to thank you for all you’re trying to do.)

    Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle. This has often been hard for me. Our daughter did not enter this world with a temperament that most would label as one that “sparkled.” It’s taken a while to get over that feeling of “this is not what we expected” and “why isn’t our child calm and happy like that one over there.” But I CAN see her sparkle now. She is bold and dramatic. She loves books. She is so observant it amazes me (even as an infant she would crawl around the floor to every little speck on the carpet to inspect it). She loves music – singing and listening to it and playing it. She tells wonderful stories and draws amazing pictures. She’s articulate beyond her 3.5 years. She loves to be around grownups and has no fear of participating in the conversation. She is funny in ways that always surprise me. She is an amazing barometer of the emotions surrounding her, which challenges me to work towards a more peaceful frame of mind every day. She loves nature. She is inquisitive. She is wonderful.

  50. Corina says:

    My 2 year old daughter- delight of my days! SUCH a deeply unexpected gift in my life. What I appreciate most is her newness to the world- her ability to come to every moment with curiosity, and a question. This quality of ‘tabula rāsa’ in my little one reminds ME that all that we think we “are” is in fact wholly mutable. Read: possible to improve upon & repair!

    I also really appreciate my daughter’s open-hearted willingness to offer ME a fresh start whenever I screw up.

    And her sparkle? A fabulously free sense of humour coupled with a self-possessedness I didn’t know a two year old humyn being could have. 🙂

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