****************This is a guest post written by Eliane Sainte-Marie of Coaching For Wholeness. ****************
I was honored to be asked to submit a blog post on Love Parenting’s beautiful website. I love Sam’s message and am thrilled at all the support and information made available to parents through her work. We are completely aligned in our approach and philosophy to parenting, but my children are a lot older than hers (15, 18 and 21.) So I thought you might enjoy reading about the results of this parenting approach in one family, to get an idea of what you might have to look forward to if you also commit yourself to this approach.
It can be very challenging to parent in a way that’s different from the mainstream, as I’m guessing you’re doing if you’re reading this article. It’s also challenging, sometimes overwhelming, to spend a large part of each day focused on meeting a little ones’ needs. I hope my experience can give you some inspiration to keep doing it, as well as some reassurance that it’s worth it beyond what you can even imagine! My 3 daughters and I are a living proof of it.
When my first daughter was born, I went on a quest to find a parenting approach that would insure that she would grow up feeling whole, loved, and knowing that she was intrinsically good. It just was not an option for me to have her experience even a smidgen of what I lived and still struggled to heal from: growing up feeling unloved and believing I was deeply flawed.
For the first 5 years of my parenting journey, all my attention and energy went into finding and integrating into my family an approach that felt 100% right. Some of the things I did were:
- Having all my interactions with them come from a knowing that they are intrinsically good, treating them as allies.
- Being a strong leader they could learn from and in whose guidance they could relax and feel safe.
- Trusting them.
- Supporting them in fully being who they are.
- Not imposing my agenda on them or putting my needs ahead of theirs.
- Being honest with them and seriously taking their perspective into account, changing when I needed to.
- Knowing that they were a lot more capable than what most people would believe.
- Never using punishments or rewards as a way to change their behavior.
- Never deciding for them what they should learn, but supporting them in following their own interests, which lead to unschooling.
And as little children:
- Allowing them to organically become independent instead of pushing them to it.
- Co-sleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding on demand for several years.
- No separation from me until they were comfortable with it.
Once I felt solid in my parenting, I shifted my focus to personal growth and emotional healing, wanting for myself what I was seeing in my daughters. I lost interest in studying and talking about parenting, pursuing other interests.
Until my first daughter Cassandra turned 18.
This was a profound day for me, a huge milestone. I found myself reflecting a lot that January 21st 2011. Thinking about what it meant to be the parent of an adult. How our relationship would change. How I felt about sending her out into the world on her own, given that she’d picked a college 1200 miles away from home.
And I realized something: I had absolutely no concerns about her future! No concerns about her ability to find her way and her happiness in the world. No concerns about her ability to keep herself safe. And I was struck by the contrast with what I imagined all her friends’ parents must be feeling. And then further struck to realize I felt the exact same way relative to my 2 younger daughters!
That day birthed what’s become one of my missions in life: to give as many parents as possible a vision of what’s possible with children. And information and support in achieving it.
Now before moving forward and talking about all the positive things I experienced in my family, I want to stress that I am in NO WAY a perfect parent, nor are my children perfect! I could say a lot more about this, but this isn’t the topic of this article. You can read my full confession to that in an article on my website.
So here’s what I HAVE experienced in my family:
I truly felt like I was done parenting with each of them somewhere between the age of 12 and 14. By that age they were fully able to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their lives. I may have conversations with them, offering my opinion, or reminders, but they were fully in charge of their lives.
Academic success in school: They each chose to start public school at ages 10 and 11. I never made them do homework, expected that they attend every day, or pushed them to have ‘good’ grades. Yet their report cards showed a large majority of A’s.
I experienced no teenage rebellion or ‘acting out.’
There was very little conflict in my home. Though my daughters are full of life, are very talkative, and were at times very rambunctious, people often commented on how peaceful our home was because of the ease and harmony between us all.
They were incredibly well behaved. We could take them anywhere, from a very young age, and know that not only would they behave appropriately but that we could as adults have a good time without having to closely monitor them.
I’ve fully achieved my goal! What I most wanted for my daughters was for them to have an unshakable sense of self, to be self-confident, inner motivated, self-sufficient and have the ability to find their own happiness in the world. I can say with a resounding ‘YES’ that I’ve achieved it, in spades, with all 3 of them.
I SO want to encourage you to pursue this parenting approach if it resonates with you! In many ways it’s a lot of hard work in the early years. And it takes a lot of determination to unlearn our conditioning and transition to a loving, instinctual and natural way of parenting. But I am so grateful now that I did, because it’s paying off for me, my daughters, and all whom they’ll touch a million fold!
Please visit my website to request the free recording of my recent talk “3 Unfortunate Mistakes Mindful Parents Make that Prevent Them from Having Truly Happy Children and Experiencing Harmony in Their Family.”
As a Parenting and Healing Coach, Eliane Sainte-Marie works with conscious parents who want to honor their children’s spirits and need practical and effective guidance to parent in alignment with their values AND want to do the inner work needed to eliminate what’s causing them to act in negative ways with their children. Read her blog and find out about her services at www.CoachingForWholeness.com.
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