A couple of years ago I began writing a book, Force Free Parenting. My vision for the book was for it to be a comprehensive exploration, resource and collection of alternatives regarding the nature and use of force in adult child relationships.
My vision remains.
However, my life has changed since I started writing and I feel the tone of the book needs attention.
Parenting differently than we were parented and is still practiced in today’s cultures (keeping whatever helpful stuff we did experience in our childhoods), is not easy. No one (who’s honest) ever said it would be. Actually, given my own semi-tainted childhood (although thankful for lots of loving memories with my immediate family), tumultuous teen years and all I put my parents through, plus my current circumstances in parenting, I can pretty much guarantee the word easy should not even be in my parenting vocabulary, but that doesn’t mean I don’t dream or take advantage of the smooth moments when they arise. Depending on our circumstances, parenting may be kinda hard sometimes or excruciatingly difficult much of the time, and lots in between.
We need some gentleness and compassion with ourselves in all of this. As a matter of fact, choosing to be compassionate with myself is the main crux which keeps me from deviating on this path. Without such compassion I would have cycled back into punitive parenting many times over, only to feel guilt and defeat again and again (speaking from experience before I started really bringing in self compassion). We can break the cycle of forceful parenting by acknowledging that force free parenting isn’t easy, but it’s very worth it, very healing, very needed – for us and our kids. When I write, I want this compassion to be felt in the words that are shared.
Using my voice very intentionally is important to me. I do not want to contribute to parents feeling worse without offering how to do things in more beneficial ways (that are actually practical and applicable to real life). Sometimes when we realize we’re hurting ourselves and our kids through the ways we’re parenting, we may feel guilt, confusion or worse. While it’s natural to feel these feelings and we really need to honor and feel them through to heal and change, we also need support to learn, grow and make the changes we need to make to parent in more healthy ways. We need replacement thoughts and actions.
I’m not comfortable calling myself an “expert” who’s here to tell others what to do. There are a plethora of “experts” in the field of parenting, and it seems more and more continue to come out of the wood work to tell us how to parent our kids. I’m not one of these “experts”. I’m a mom, a mom who cares about her kids, this world and life very deeply. A mom of five who reads, studies and practices a non punitive approach to parenting with some education and training in areas that support what I’m living. I feel really passionate about this because I see so clearly how it’s healing and helpful not only in my family, but others as well (even though I’m still learning and it’s messy and uncomfortable at times). I share what I’m learning, mindfulness and helpful parenting information with people who feel it is beneficial, but my intention is not to add to the chaos of trying to sift through various parenting strategies. My intention is to offer clear, accurate information and insights for reflection and making choices.
Sharing some of my parenting experience may be an important aspect of the book. Lately I’ve been pondering how sharing my experience can integrate into the book or even that the book would be more of a journaling experience with supportive research woven in. Would it be helpful for me to include, or simply keep the book information and philosophy based? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to explore it along the way.
Mostly, I want to write and complete this book. I’ve been sitting on it, not writing, and may still need more time without writing before I get back to it again, but it’s still in me. It feels sort of like a sixth child, with a really, really long gestation. Ha. For those of you still interested in reading, thank you for your support of this movement to respectful relating between adults and kids. We are making a difference, one family at a time – in our hearts, homes and the world. Remember this. Do feel free to revisit the first chapter if you’d like. You’ll need a login, which you can register for here.
Take gentle care, Amy
Are you struggling as a parent? If so, I’d like to share something with you: a story and some hope.