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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The parenting manual you wish you were born with

c/o Tarcher/Perigee
With so much mindfulness, love and kindness being practiced these days, one would hope such efforts would extend to the parenting domain. It is the most important job many of us will have and relationship we'll cultivate in this lifetime, after all.

Greater emotional awareness, clear communication and joyfulness are key tenets to positive parenting, according to Rebecca Eanes, author of, The Positive Parenting Workbook: an interactive guide for strengthening emotional connection (Tarcher Perigee, $15.00).

Rebecca Eanes, c/o Tarcher Perigee
We caught up with Eanes to find out more about her...
ideas and guiding principles for becoming a more positive, and present parent.

KYD: What prompted you to write this book? What is your hope/intention with it?

RE:  I spent years learning about attachment, child development, and positive discipline, and that information was life changing for me. I wanted to take my knowledge and understanding of these topics and present them not as a PhD writing a study report but as a mom who had applied this information to my own relationships and saw great results.

I wanted to write a parenting book that focused on the big-picture of parenting. Most parenting books focus on discipline methods, but parenting is about so much more than discipline. There are many aspects of parenting that shape our children, such as our own stories and beliefs, the way we communicate, the relationships we have with our partners and others, habits and routines, family culture, traditions, the home environment, and much more. When parents focus all of their attention of which discipline methods they choose, these other areas aren't given the attention they need. My hope is to free parents from the trap of conventional methods so they are free to love and live joyfully with their kids.

KYD:   What kind of conventional parenting wisdom do you consider "a trap?"

RE: The biggest trap, in my opinion, is the idea that we must sacrifice relationship in order to maintain authority. We've come to accept practices such as time-out, grounding, and removal of privileges as sound discipline strategies even though 1) they rarely work and 2) they can damage the parent-child relationship. The idea that we must "make them suffer" for their wrongdoings and anything less is "permissive" or "soft" traps us into dealing out unhelpful punishment to feel like we are "parenting right."

When parents come to understand that true parental authority lies in a healthy, attached relationship - one where children feel safe in our care, believe we are on their side, and do not have to fear losing our love or affection - they are released from the punishment trap and free to look at the emotions and experiences that are driving the child's actions. Then they can see that there aren't behaviors that need punished but problems that need solving and hearts that need healing. That's a powerful change. 

KYD:  How important is it for parents to "look within," and to practice being more mindful when disciplining kids? How can your workbook help parents to identify their emotional "triggers" and other things that impact mindset?

RE: I believe it's critically important to look within first and make sure that we have our own emotions and behavior in check before we attempt to help our kids with their emotions and behaviors. Otherwise, we just end up adding fuel to the fire or modeling the exact type of behavior we don't want to see in our kids. My workbook devotes a chapter to understanding how our past experiences shaped our beliefs, identifying triggers, and learning calming tools that help us show up in these situations at our best through thought-provoking questions and mindfulness exercises. 

KYD:   How can your "Reflection Questions" and "Journal" entry directives help parents to improve their game?

RE:  For what I believe is the first time, the workbook hands you the wheel, so to speak. Rather than telling you some "magic method" to raise your kids by, this book invites you to tap into your intuition, to tune out the many other voices and tune into your own, and to peel back layers of conditioning to discover what's important to you and how to best raise your own unique child. It's very much a journey of self-discovery and of growing yourself up as you come into a healthier and more joyful relationship with your kids. 

KYD:    How can activities posed in your workbook help parents with the most challenging aspects of parenting (tantrums, whining, back talk, etc.)?

RE:  The Positive Parenting Workbook puts a lot of focus on being proactive in dealing with these common behavioral issues. Traditional parenting methods often invite these challenges by frustrating kids with unmet emotional needs and straining the attachment bond. So there are preventative measures listed that keep these from becoming major problems to begin with, but there are also questions and activities that help parents see these behaviors differently - looking again at what is driving the behavior, putting the focus on the root cause and not the symptom.

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