How to get some peace back in your parenting

Kinderling News & Features

Shevonne Hunt hosts Kinderling Conversation every weekday at 12pm.

Monday mornings aren’t much fun in my house.

Mondays, to state the obvious, follow hot on the heels of weekends. Weekends full of unstructured play time, hot chocolates, a movie or two and no drop off deadlines.

Suddenly my two small humans are facing the reality of school and day care, and they do not like it.

Tantrums abound while I attempt to get myself, and them, ready for the day. We’re racing against the clock and one child will decide they want another piece of toast (Vegemite and Peanut butter? On separate pieces? No, halved? Oh, you mean like a sandwich?), while the other is asking me when she will finish school for good (she’s in the second term of kindergarten).

This is when I need a bit of peaceful parenting.

‘Peaceful parenting’ may sound like an oxymoron to anyone with young children, but author Sharon Turton insists that it’s real, and possible to achieve. Her book The Art of Peaceful Parenting outlines how to get there.

Sharon says that peaceful parenting is all about being in control of the way we respond to our children, while still recognising and accepting the feelings they evoke in us.

Listen to Sharon on Kinderling Conversation:

On Monday mornings, I often feel a cocktail of emotions. I feel angry and frustrated at the kids because everything’s so hard. I feel frustrated and annoyed at myself that I’m not a better parent at answering their needs. I’m also sad and feeling guilty that they would rather be home with me than anywhere else.

And that’s all before leaving the front door at 8am.

If you’re really honest with yourself, your kids probably evoke some ugly emotions you’d rather not admit to. There’s rage, shame, fear, frustration. All triggered for different reasons.

“Our children are so incredibly important to us,” says Sharon. “When they are not behaving in the way that we feel they need to it triggers our deeper pain. If people are judging us because we aren’t doing what they think we should be doing it can bring up shame, it can bring up embarrassment… it can bring up our own unresolved emotions from our youth when our children are pushing our buttons. If we haven’t dealt with our own stuff there is no way in the world that we can hold space for our children to release their big emotions.”

Part of dealing with our own emotions is practicing self- compassion. Most of the time I’m feeling these uncomfortable emotions I’m criticizing myself for feeling them at all. It’s not my children’s fault that Monday mornings are hard. I’m the parent; I should be more patient, kinder, and more empathetic.

But this is the point of self-compassion.

Sharon says that the ugly feelings - the anger, shame, and frustration - these are all natural and normal emotions to feel. It’s what we do with these emotions once they arise that counts.

“Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world… because it touches us so deeply, and when things don’t go the way that we feel they should, and when we lose it, we can beat ourselves up, we can get so upset with ourselves,” Sharon explains. “[We say] I’m a bad parent, I shouldn’t have done that, I’ve wrecked her for life! And yet having compassion for our self, for this huge job of bringing up this human being can make it a lot easier.”

So next time your kids are pushing every button under the sun, remember it’s okay to be angry, frustrated and all those other feelings.

Perhaps we need to treat our own emotions the way we try to teach our kids. Name them. Feel them. Then let them pass.

Maybe if you are easier on yourself, you will be easier on them.

Peaceful parenting is about how we, the adults, feel within ourselves. And if we’re feeling calm inside, that’s surely going to create a more peaceful home, and more peaceful kids as well.

For me, it’s certainly worth a try.