Mary P here. The woman who takes six tots to the museum without having security called in. Whose under-three-year-olds sit in cheerful peace in coffee shops. Whose two-year-olds never bite. Well, not more than once or twice.
“How does she do it?” you ask. Because you do ask. Frequently.
She does it by clear communication in advance, by making expectations understood, and by following through with firm, compassionate, consistency. The key to avoiding conflict and acrimony, and to creating a warm and nurturing environment, is good communication.
We at Partners in Parenting, we aim to create just such a nurturing, safe environment where parents, regardless of their philosophical stripe, may meet, discuss, brainstorm, learn, encourage, and support each other. This means that we have to all agree to play nice.
As I say to the tots all the time, “You may be angry, but you may not scream.” Here at PiP, you may disagree, you may even challenge, but you may not be rude. A variety of approaches makes for a rich experience. We do not all have to have the same opinion, but we do have to respect the rights of others to a) have that differing opinion, and b) express it. After twenty years of parenting, a few years teaching, and over eleven years day-caring, I have learned that there are many, many, many good ways to raise children. There are very few things a parent can do that are completely and utterly wrong, and parents who do those things? They don’t read parenting blogs.
Here is the Partners in Parenting working principle:
Guidelines for achieving this:
1a. Recognize that your opinion is just that: your opinion. Other people may have a different one - and that’s okay.
1b. A differing opinion is not a personal attack on you. It's just a different opinion.
(Now, I know this isn’t always easy. Me, I’ve been parenting my own children for twenty years, and helping to parent others’ children for over eleven. Over those many years, I’ve had lots of opportunity to learn to distinguish opinion from attack. It comes with practice, and with not wanting to offend/lose clients!
The parenting you do is intensely personal, and you are passionately concerned with your choices and their outcomes. It can be very hard to hear a differing opinion without taking it personally. “They’re saying I’m a Bad Mother!” you cry, even though that is quite likely NOT what they’re saying at all. Take a deep breath before you pound out your flaming defence.)
2. No name-calling.
3. No personal attacks. My shoe size, his spelling, the size of her ass or your bank account, or even that other guy's IQ are of no relevance and need not be brought into the discussion.
4. Please, if someone makes a good point, acknowledge it! Even if you don’t agree with the other stuff they’re saying, credit where credit is due goes a long way towards generating positive dialogue.
5. Pretend you can see the other person. Would you say what you just wrote to someone’s face? If you wouldn’t, it would probably be best not to say it here. Please bear in mind that there is another person at the other end of the conversation, a real person, another parent doing their best to love their child(ren), too. Just like you.
What it boils down to is, Play Nice. If we all play nice, then, no matter how lively, challenging, or spirited the game gets, no one will get hurt, and we may even go home having learned something new. And make a few friends along the way!
Now, let's get out there and have fun! Thank you.