You’ve read it and it made sense, the image it conjured up is exactly what you were aiming for, the tips sound right up your street, suited your ethics, the culture you want to adopt in your own family. Bam! You’ve found it, sorted! Next time you have a tricky situation with your child, you know what to do and say.
Easy, Peasy, Lemon Squeezy.
Or as my youngest likes to say “Easy, Peasy, Lemon difficult.” I don’t know where he got the phrase from, but it’s perfect in this case.
I had read many parenting books, some I read before my first child was even born. I had confidence that my body knew how to grow a baby, so I didn’t read many pregnancy books. I was less confident I knew what to do once the baby was outside the womb, so I read.
Some books resonated, some less so. Most seemed reasonable (some less so) and when my baby slept and I read a page, before falling asleep myself, I would feel reassured that I now knew what to do when my child cried, slept, didn’t sleep, cried, explored, tried new foods, cried, refused food, refused naps, refused grandparents, cried, used a toilet, cried.
You get the picture.
Books were such a good source of information, some good information, some less so.
I began to notice that there were times when, even though I knew what I WANTED to do in a certain situation I COULDN’T. It wasn’t that I WANTED to get frustrated and cross, down and despairing, defeated and dejected, hurt and ignored. I just felt those things, and when I felt those things I just COULDN’T do and say the things the books suggested. Often, I did and said the opposite of what I was going for.
For all their good intentions, good information and sound suggestions, no book, regardless of how magical it is can LISTEN to us, when it’s hard. No book can hear our fears and frustrations and hold that, even when it doesn’t look like it, our children are good, that we are good, and that we are doing a good job.
Bizarrely we CAN feel judged by a book. I’ve felt books scream at me that I did it wrong. And THAT’S why my child isn’t sleeping/eating/talking politely to family members.
Being listened to by a non-judgemental person, who respectfully and warmly listens to me laugh (and sometimes cry) about my children, without telling me what I should do, just listening and knowing that I’ll figure it out when my brain isn’t clogged with my fear and frustrations, has been vital in allowing me to more regularly think flexibly around my parenting. I’ve been able to solve and prevent tricky situations repeat themselves endlessly, by allowing myself space to focus on my parenting, and what comes up for me to stop me thinking well in the moment.
A book couldn’t do that.
Listening Partnerships is one of the five tools we teach at Hand in Hand Parenting, and experiencing the power of being listened to warmly is part of the Starter Classes that instructors offer. Find out more about Listening partnerships in this video
Find out about upcoming Starter Classes, including mine here