It’s a moment every parent eventually faces: your sweet infant develops to the point where they are able to do something that drives you bananas, and as you shout, “Stop that!” you hear your own parent’s voice coming from your mouth.
Parenting is difficult work, and most parents only have skills passed on to them from their own parents. However, it is now known that parenting tactics such as shame can have long-lasting negative effects. Naomi Aldort’s book, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, [Book Publishers Network, 2006] is a powerful tool to help parents move beyond the old ways of parenting into a relationship with their children that is based on love, respect and compassion.
Aldort Helps Reduce Conflict Between Parents and Children
Aldort begins her book with her S.A.L.V.E formula, which is a series of questions and statements that a parent can use when faced with a difficult parenting situation. The hardest step is the first, to stop and separate yourself from your child’s behavior and your own emotional experience. When emotions run high parents tend to do or say things they regret, so stopping and examining the words or actions they are about to take can give parents enough time to calm down and decide whether that is really the best thing to do.
Aldort then advises that parents pay attention to the child, listen, validate the child’s experience and feelings, then empower them to resolve things in their own way. The S.A.L.V.E approach can shift parenting from being parent-centered and based on adult emotions and needs, to being a child-centered practice that respects the worth of children’s emotions and needs.
Parental Control vs Parental Love
One of the most fundamental attitude shifts Aldort’s approach requires is the belief that parents are not responsible for shaping children as they grow. Traditional parenting is based on the idea that a parent must control her children, so that they behave in socially acceptable ways. The cost of this style of parenting is that it creates conflict between the parent and child, and a child who complies is likely to do so because he is afraid to disobey. When a parent’s job is to love his child and provide a safe environment for play and learning, the child is free to be herself without fearing the loss of her parent’s love.
Not Just Permissive Parenting
It might be easy to conclude that Aldort is advocating for a very permissive parenting style in which parents don’t ever control their children and kids are free to do whatever they like, but it isn’t true. Aldort says that it is actually harmful for children to have everything they want without boundaries and limitations.
This is where the practice of raising children with love and compassion becomes difficult. By moving out of a black and white world into one with infinite shades of gray parents must make up their minds about each parenting situation as it arises, but Aldort helps by providing many examples of positive parenting and the use of her S.A.L.V.E formula in action as a guide.
Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves is a parenting book that will appeal to parents who are willing to get in touch with their own emotions as they raise their children, and who are committed to changing and learning about themselves in the process. Aldort uses The Work of Byron Katie in her counseling sessions, so if you’re interested in putting Aldort’s parenting advice into practice in your life you might find Byron Katie’s website helpful as well.
Originally published on Suite101.com on October 14, 2008
Links to Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves are Amazon.com affiliate links.
I kindly received a free copy from Naomi Aldort to review.