Sometimes transformation can be hard to see when you are in the middle of making changes in your life. There was a situation soon after I started down the Peaceful Parenting road when I realized, “Hey, this stuff’s really sinking in!” Today, I want to give you a “Before and After snapshot” of the major changes I have made in the past versus the ones I make today as a newly reformed Peaceful Parent.
For whatever reason, my son (10) was carrying a half-empty gallon of paint from one room to another. With that gallon, he was also carrying another full gallon and a pint, haphazardly stacked upon one another.
I was on the computer finishing some schoolwork and looked up, just in time to see him running through the house with the three containers. As it turned out, the lid of the half-empty container of paint was not properly secured. Before I knew it, my son trips and falls, and black paint (yes, black) was all over the light-tan living room carpet.
The “Before” Photo
There was once a time when this would have been just the thing to send me off the deep end. The situation might have gone something like this:
Boy runs through, wielding paint. He trips and spills paint everywhere. I lose my cool and proceed to yell at him, saying things like, “Why can’t you be more careful” or “What the hell were you thinking?” I might have even smacked him in the back of the head to ‘knock some sense into him,’ just as my father had so lovingly done for me when I was a kid.
Next, I would start barking out commands. Get me this! Get me that! We need to get this cleaned up now! It’s going to ruin my carpet!
Then, he would start crying. I would tell him to quit whining and help get the mess cleaned up. Stress levels would rise to the point that I would tell him to leave and I would clean up the mess myself.
Side note: As I wrote this segment on paper, I realized it was the first time I had spelled out an all-too-common encounter between my children and me. Writing it down made me feel disgusting and ashamed; like a monster looking in the mirror for the first time. I even considered removing the section from this post.
However, in order to give an accurate account of the considerable improvements that have been made, the “before” is just as important and necessary as the “after.”
The “After” Photo
The “After” photo of this situation was so much better. It was less stressful. There was no violence, no manipulation, no guilt.
Here’s how it went down:
Boy runs through wielding paint. He trips and spills paint everywhere.
Then I tried something different. I used a new tool; one that is so ground-breaking, I suggest every parent in the world learns how to harness its power.
I took a deep breath.
A deep breath.
Suddenly—armed with a new parenting philosophy and a moment of thought—the situation was much easier to handle.
Internally, I was still freaking out and stressing about how to get the stain out. But externally, I was a warm summer breeze, barely disturbing a leaf on the trees (bonus points if your comments on this post have a cheesy rhyme like that one!)
I got up from my seat and helped him figure out how to clean it up. We quickly put the lid back on the can and contained the spill as fast as possible.
I could see he felt bad about it. There was no need for manipulation. No sighs of disappointment.
I gave him calm instruction to get paper towels, wet rags, etc. and we cleaned the main spill. Then, to get the stain out, we looked up a method online that used products we already had around the house.
He apologized of his own volition and I reassured him that it was ok; that accidents happen and that running in the house is probably not a great idea.
Just like in weight loss and home improvement projects, it is important to periodically take a “Before and After snapshot” of your parenting skills. They allow you to look back and see how far you’ve come and the changes you’ve made. They allow you to gauge your progress and note where more improvements can be made.
This has been a critical part of the transition process from my old authoritarian parenting ideologies to the new Peaceful Parenting philosophies.
So, looking back, what changes have you made in your parenting that would be worthy of a “Before & After snapshot”?