When things are going smoothly, it's easy to say "Yes! Positive parenting really works!" You feel confident in your decision to raise your child this way and confident in your abilities as a parent.
But what about when things aren't going smoothly? What about when your child is acting up despite your positive guidance? That's not supposed to happen, is it?
Positive parenting is not a magic fix. It doesn't guarantee that there won't be conflicts, misbehavior, and difficult times. Inevitably, no matter how great you model, how gentle your guidance, and how connected your relationship, there will arise times of conflict and disconnect. It may be tempting during these times to give up and resort to more punitive or authoritarian parenting. You may say to yourself, "This clearly isn't working! I need to try something else!" It is in these troublesome times that your values and principles are really put to the test.
A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn. ~Author UnknownAs much as I wholeheartedly believe in this philosophy, we aren't the perfect family. I'm not a perfect positive parent. I have had my doubts as well. I have faltered. There have been times during conflict when I've wanted to resort to punitive parenting again. It's so easy to take away a privilege or send a kid to his room. Sometimes it's not so easy to figure out what the need behind the behavior is and address it. Sometimes it's not so easy to repair the rift.
But I want to encourage you (and me) to stay the course. Have faith that your relationship will prevail above all. Know that this bend is not the end, that if you repair the disconnects, offer unconditional love, guide with gentleness and respect, and keep confidence in yourself and in your child, everything will work out for the good.
Keep the big picture in mind. Remember that we aren't raising cookie-cutter children, but compassionate and capable adults. Keep in mind why you chose this path. Remember that, in the end, all we have are relationships, so do what you can to stay connected, because we know our true influence comes through that connection.
I always find it encouraging to hear from parents who have raised children with positive parenting. Here is what some of these parents have to say:
There are three adults walking around who were raised on the philosophy of positive parenting (my three children 37, 29, 27). My relationship with them today is as it was when they were growing up - respectful, loving, trusting, secure and fun. Another payoff is to not only watch the relationships they have with others but also to watch the relationship they have with their self. Their level of self awareness is strong. But the best outcome of PP - to watch them use positive parenting instinctively with my grandchildren. There is no greater reward or peace of mind. I could go on and on about the benefits..
As a high school teacher, I can always tell which of my students have been raised with PP and which haven't. The ONLY kids who get in fights are the ones who haven't been PP'd. Those who have been PP'd are far more apt to take responsibility for their actions, they are happier on a more consistent basis (you know, they're teenagers, so they all have their angst from time to time), they have an easier time communicating with adults, and they just have an inner-confidence that shines through in every move they make.
My daughter is 17 and I have always used positive parenting. She is confident, loving, content, compassionate, loyal, and honest. She has excelled in sports and academics as the words" I can't" don't exist. She is an excellent "winner" but an even better "loser" when it comes to competition. She has been such a pleasure from day one and I'm proud to be called her mom. She also knows that I will take on the world for her and vice versa.
I have a nearly sixteen year old daughter who has come through her difficult initial adolescent years with us only having had one big issue that was resolved through being open and discursive. Not seeing her thoughts and feelings as a problem, but a reality... in fact a huge reality as often teenagers are feeling intense feelings for the very first time! She is now one of the most beautiful people I know, she will hear her friends problems and even ask for help when she needs if she is upset by something going on. I am one of the luckiest mums in the world to have her emerge and grow into my friend who will even offer me a hug when I seem down as she has empathy and recognizes me as a human being. She holds herself to account for her schoolwork, her behavior and it is very very rare we have to assert boundaries. I am so proud of her and in some way, of us as her parents as we have always been mindful that we do not "have a child" We were helping an adult to grow.
The biggest impact I see with my 18 year old is that despite his challenging oppositional behavior we have remained connected, and thus I have maintained influence in his still developing self. As long as I can still influence him with wisdom, love, and knowledge, he can keep growing toward the light.