- Published on Monday, 16 April 2012 02:02
Over on the Kabongo blog I run a weekly column with Ava Parnass titled, "Mondays with Ava & Shara." We answer parenting questions each week.
Here's one of our recent posts (re-posted by permission):
QUESTION: “What method of parenting did your parents use with you? Do you use that same method now?”
My parents were certainly more rigid with us during my younger years. We had 4 girls and my father had a reputation to uphold in our community. I didn’t understand that then but I understand it now. In their minds, it was very important to keep the kids “in line” and that’s just what they did. When I was 13 I went to my mother and asked her to reconsider the way they were parenting us. I wanted to be allowed to share my thoughts and opinions without getting into trouble.
She agreed and she discussed the issue with my father.
Everything changed after that (although the side effects followed!) and we stopped getting into trouble for everything we did wrong. They parented my youngest sister very differently than the older three daughters. Funny… we always joke that she was the best behaved of all! She was given positive reinforcement rather than negative punishment. She never rebelled like the rest of us did and her teen years were much calmer than ours.
After watching that happen I made a choice: I will parent my kids with positive reinforcement over negative punishments. I recently bought The Kazdin Method for Parenting book and we’ve been implementing his brain-researched strategies for weeks now. It’s certainly working… no doubt about it. All three of my kids (13, 5 and 3) are responding well to the strategies.
Kids need, and want, positive re-direction, uplifting encouragement and loving guidance… over corporal punishment, yelling and arrogant parenting.
No parent is perfect but I figure… if we can learn from our mistakes (and the mistakes of our own parents) we’re already one step ahead of the game.
NOTE: I also take many of my parent’s terrific qualities and try to emulate them! My folks were/are very creative and always had music playing (my father played the piano, guitar and he also sang). We went to museums, horse ranches, we traveled the world and put on family musicals at church. My parents were crafty and artistic and included cultural diversity and charitable giving in our upbringing. My father ran a homeless shelter for a few years and my mother worked in special needs classrooms. They are both extremely hard working and innovative. I’ve attempted to adopt many of these wonderful qualities along with new traditions and memories – for my own children.
Shara – as always I love to read what you write; it’s always poignant. The longer Shara and I know each other the more I realize the term we kid around about for each other “twinny” applies. We have many many similar life stories.
My parents, although loving and generous, were also very strict. They had strict religious beliefs, believed in negative discipline and in controlling children. And although very smart and nice they didn’t really understand child psychology. Unlike Shara lots had to happen in our lives well into our adult years before any real changes were made.
Although I found my childhood very difficult, one of the gifts of adversity, if you search for it, which I did, is strength and knowledge. I set out on a path in life to undo my past and learn everything I needed to learn about psychology and children so as not to make the same mistakes.
So I don’t parent the same as them or in fact the opposite, either, because I learned the opposite just gets you more of the same problems. I set out over a lifetime to understand and learn what works according to the research and what doesn’t.
Much like the Kazdin method which works and is great, I took my childhood and turned it into positive parenting. I created my own method of child rearing using many combined research methods plus my own clinical skills to create Time-In not Time Out, parenting with emotional intelligence.
So in essence I do have my parents to thank for my path of helping my family and other families. And I am very lucky and happy to say that now I get along well with my parents and I’m happy we made it through the hard times. We all went out to dinner recently and my 10 year old said, “Let’s go around the table and give each other compliments!” She took a technique from my book and used it without prompting.
I was so thankful and proud!
To my parents’ credit they enjoyed it and played along and said wonderful things. I guess all that money for graduate school and therapy was well spent! As the saying and song goes: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Ava Parnass, a.k.a. “The Kid Whisperer,” is an author, songwriter and child therapist who specializes in marrying entertainment and social-emotional literacy for kids. Ms Parnass helps kids figure out how they feel through playing, talking, listening, reading, singing and dancing. Read more…
Shara has a background in education, early childhood, preschool work, marketing, freelance and special needs. Shara was a nanny for 16+ years working with children birth-13. She has three children of her own (soon to be four). She is currently an active member of her town charity group, a Library Board member and a member of her small town business community (helping with fund-raising events and children’s activities). Read more...