Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Feeling Your Feelings:
Bringing Mindfulness To Everyday Parenting

"The only feelings you really need to fear are those you ignore." 
~ Marianne Williamson

For many years, my New Year's resolution was simply "to have more patience". In my journey toward learning to be the mother I wanted to be, I felt that this was an area in which I was sorely lacking. I lost my temper too often. I yelled. I rushed through things. I got annoyed when my kids (or my husband) just didn't "get it". I was, I was certain, very impatient.

And I suppose I can be impatient. And I suppose I've improved in that area. But along the way, I realized that in my attempt to have more patience when things were frustrating or triggering me, I was, in fact, also creating more stress for myself. Could it be that I was actually being too patient?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Two Thousand Kisses a Day: A Review

Before I became a parent I will admit I knew less than nothing about parenting. I had no "philosophy" about how I would parent other than some vague notion that I would, of course, love my children and teach them "everything I knew". 

Under the best circumstances, this really could be enough. But for most people, myself included, when parenting starts to get a little harder we either fall back on how our parents parented (which sometimes left something to be desired) or fumble our way through trying various inconsistent methods in the futile hope that one of them will be a magic bullet and suddenly being a mom will be what we thought it was going to be like!

I do wish that in the early days I had some sort of guide book that focused on what I now have come to call connected parenting. It would have given me comfort to know that certain things I did, instinctively, were creating a better relationship with my kids. And it would have provided suggestions which resonated with me when I had difficulties. 

L.R. Knost of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources has written such a guide. Her new book Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages (A Little Hearts Handbook) reads like gentle suggestions from a good friend. The author is an independent child development researcher and mom of six (6!) children ranging in age from toddlerhood to young adult. Because of this, Two Thousand Kisses a Day doesn't just stop after the first 5 years, as so many other parenting books do, but continues on to give advice for raising great kids all the way middle school, teen years and adulthood. 

In the introduction, the author makes the point that connecting with our children is "...about maintaining and enriching a strong parent/child relationship through all of the ages and stages of childhood so that, through a foundation of trust and mutual respect, parenting takes the form of guiding instead of punishing, encouraging natural growth instead of forcing premature independence, and creating a strong, intimate, interwoven family fabric that will stand the test of time."

Although Two Thousand Kisses a Day covers a broad ranges of ages and stages, the chapters are short and easy to read. The author provides understandable scenarios to illustrate her points and often gives easy to follow suggestions for every-day difficulties, such as doing chores in the house or feeding a picky eater, from a gentle parenting point of view. 

For those of us who give a lot of thought to how we are parenting, it is very easy to blame ourselves every time our children have difficulties. I love that the author devotes a chapter to parenting guilt and reminds her readers that "...when our efforts don't produce an endlessly-happy, always-confident, perfectly-reasonable child, we can make the mistake of feeling like a failure as a parent instead of simply acknowledging that we are the parent of a human being with all of the normal quirks and foibles inherent in human nature."

What L. R. Knost leaves us with in Two Thousand Kisses a Day is encouragement and simple ways to make an enormous difference in our children's lives. She reminds us that it is never too late to start having a connected relationship with our children and, from my favorite chapter in the book, that "it's important to be in our children's lives but also to be intentional about making our time together count in the small ways that really matter to children."

Ultimately, that's what Two Thousand Kisses a Day is really about: finding as many ways to continue to be as connected to our growing children, as you did when they were infants and you kissed, cuddled and told them you loved them every chance you got.


This post is part of the Virtual Book Tour for the launch of L.R.Knost’s Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages. Click here if you’d like to check out all of the other stops on the tour! 

Readers of The Twin Coach are invited to take advantage of a special offer from L.R. Knost: 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Brother's Love

Brothers Arm in Arm — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
To the big brother who made me cry this afternoon,

I watched your mama come to the restaurant with you and your little brother. He, not more than 3. You, only a couple of years older. Both of you in matching navy blue with closely cropped hair and big, soulful brown eyes. 

I watched as she jerked your brother up two stairs when he wouldn't walk. He began to cry. She walked ahead of him and still he cried. Frustrated, she raised her voice,

"I won't carry you! You want a time out?" 
More cries. Not any louder, just more pitiful.
"You don't need to be carried! You're too old for that. You gonna get a time out!"

She pulled him by the arm, still crying, and plopped him down in the corner on the steps just outside the restaurant and went back inside. All alone, clutching a little stuffed toy, tears staining his smooth, brown cheeks... 

He looked so small. 

So many thoughts raced through my head as I tried to catch his eyes to send him the love he needed. But just then, you came out and sat by his side. You, big brother, you couldn't have been more than 6 yourself. You sat next to him, reached your hand out to touch his shoulder, gently. 

He looked up at you as you dried his tears with your sweet hand and spoke softly to him. 

His crying stopped. Hand in hand you walked back in to the restaurant together. You were exactly what he needed. 6 years old and somehow you knew just what to do.   

I put my face in my hands and cried.
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