Thursday, December 3, 2009

Parenting the Second Time Around

I was asked by Susana at My Family My Forever if I would write a post on what it is like to find myself as a parent the second time around. What have I learned that I do differently now then what I did the first time around? What advice would I give to the first time parent that I have learned from parenting the second time around?

As I look back over how I raised my children compared to how I raise Selena, I see so many things I do differently now. I hear grandparents say they wouldn’t have the patience to do it again, where as I find I have more patience with Selena then I ever did with my own children.

I remember with my children it seemed like I spent so much time pulling my hair out over the little things, constantly telling them to stay out of things, constantly trying to prevent them from throwing fits, or making them stop throwing fits. It seemed like I was constantly disciplining or telling them “NO”.

I made the active choice to not parent this way with Selena from the very get go, the moment she came home from the hospital. I searched long and hard for some guide that would help me to be a more affective parent this time around. What I discovered was one little piece of advice from one little book. (Now understand I do not recommend this book as being a grand authority on how to raise children, there are a lot of things in the book that I disagree with, but the underlying tone throughout the book just made sense to me.) This book is entitled The Natural Child, Parenting From the Heart, by Jan Hunt.

The Natural

The first point that stuck out in this book for me was the reminder that children are no different then we are, just in smaller bodies. They have the same feelings, needs, wants, and desire to be treated by others, as we desire to be treated. The book talks about trusting our babies, and understanding that they truly are telling us every step of the way their needs. We as parents have to learn to trust our babies, to parent out of love and not fear. Too many times as new parents I think we are overwhelmed and fearful that if we don’t get it just right we will somehow damage our child. But if we trust that our baby/child is truly telling us what they need, and respond out of love, even though at times we do not get it right and have to try over and over again, we are beginning a relationship built on trust and love, instead of one built on fear and anger.

I chose a method of child rearing with Selena where I pick my battles. I ask is the battle really worth fighting out, or is there a better, more friendlier approach? How can I show Selena that I truly trust her instincts, and desire to allow her to be the person she is destined to be? Simply put, instead of spending the first 3 years of her life telling her NO, Stay out of that, Don’t, Quit, and all the other things we say to try to make our children do what we want them to do. I literally chose to remove the things from my house that I didn’t want her into.  I learned how to use a more positive approach of distraction and helping her to forget the item she so desperately wanted to explore. I found ways of letting her explore in a more controlled situation so that her curiosities were satisfied so life would go on.

I have seen by my techniques and desire to parent more positively this time around that Selena responds more positive to our rules, and there is less discipline, less arguing, less negative reactions. This in itself has allowed both Selena and I to enjoy more of our time together with joy and laughter rather then a day full of negative discipline.

Believe me I came under a lot of criticism over my approach with Selena, but I see now as she is approaching her 3rd birthday, where she is a very happy, bright, expressive little girl. She expresses herself in a very positive manner. We have not had any right out fits thrown from her. This is not to say that she hasn’t dropped to the ground out of protest, but with in 5 seconds she is back up on her feet laughing and happily going on with the way we desire things to be done. Selena interacts with me on more of a positive note, she has learned to express her needs and wants in a gentle manner, not out of fear, but knowing that she isn’t always going to get what she wants, but she will receive the respect and love from me that she deserves.

What this has done for me. I am more relaxed with Selena, I enjoy listening to her, watching her, and allowing her to explore. I am now able to bring many of the items back into my house that we took out in the beginning and there is an unspoken trust that sure Selena is going to want to explore, but she does it in a very delicate and respectful way. She might not always ask before she gets into my Christmas stuffies (just an example), but she is gentle with them, and after inspecting them I can trust she will put them back.

What has this changed for me as a parent from the first time around? Oh I just can hardly put it into words. It of course has made me more relaxed, and has inspired me to devote more of my time in just standing back and watching her grow, explore, and learn. It has created an atmosphere where I realize Selena is not perfect, never will be perfect, but we can laugh together over the things she does, rather then fret that she might be being “bad”. She knows that I am going to be open to her wants and desires, making taking her out in public more of a joy then a hassle.

I believe this has created something for her as well. She desires to be with me all the time. She trusts everything I introduce to her, knowing she isn’t going to like everything such as food, crafts, books, adventures, etc… but she trusts that I am not going to extend things beyond her boundaries. I am not going to force anything on her that she absolutely does not want. She trusts me in everything.

I notice that she still can be distracted from the little things she is doing that I do not like, and that it doesn’t always require my full attention, I am able to hand her something else to do and she trusts that she will find it just as much fun as what she was doing that I didn’t like.

We have very few tears in our house. She has never really had to cry not even as a baby. I scheduled all her feedings, and made sure she was always dry, warm and comfortable. She now is not afraid to tell me that she has had an accident, or needs her pants changed, or doesn’t like something. She doesn’t feel the need to hide her food because she doesn’t like it. She has a true sense that she can express herself freely. She knows my limitations, what I will tolerate and what I won’t tolerate, she is not testy, and truly has the desire to please me with love and respect.

The greatest thing I feel that this approach has done for me in being able to truly enjoy parenting the second time around, and enjoying every moment with Selena, is that it took out all the negatives in the day. I am more relaxed, and willing to laugh at things that I would never have laughed at with my children. Selena has become a very responsible little person, who knows exactly what is expected of her.

You are probably thinking that Selena runs the show here, no that is not it. We have our rules, and our expectations, and consequences when she is not following our rules or meeting our expectations, but these areas seem to flow in more of a positive manner then all negative, with threats, screaming, yelling, crying, frustration.

This is the advice I have as a parent going through parenting the second time around. This is the little secret I found that has made parenting the second time around more enjoyable, more relaxed, allowing me to take in and savor every moment of Selena’s growth. I also feel this has been the greatest tool I have found to bring Selena and I together in our relationship with each other. I see where she is not a shy, fearful, unhappy, closed off little girl. Instead she has become a very warm, friendly, happy, open little girl, who loves all people, always has a warm smile on her face, desires to do what is right, desires to learn, trust, and love.

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  1. Good one on Children Grow, Children Explore, and it helps a lot.

    If you are a person who want to learn about parenting and love your family then you should enjoy

    the content of this blog Because I did and hope you would love too.

    You have a nice blog. Keep up the good work.


  2. I'm so glad Susanna asked you about this. I was curious myself but didn't want to ask in the wrong way. It sounds like you have a wonderful parenting style.

  3. It's an awesome post. I really loved your points, and I see now why Selena is such a bright and happy little girl. I think that I do a lot of things that you mentioned in this post, but standing back is excruciatingly hard for me. Thanks for reminding me to listen to my daughter's needs except on trying to push my own desires on her.

  4. This was a very good post. I am very thankful you wrote it. Selena is very blessed to have you:) Although I "listen" to Bear and am quite receptive to her needs, we still experience meltdowns quite frequently. I believe that it is due to her personality type more than to parenting, as I know I was similar as a child.

  5. Thank you so much for this post. I love the "parenting from the heart" idea - sometimes it's a little harder to do than other times, but it's always worth the effort. Selena is obviously thriving in your home, and you are obviously doing a great job! I'm so glad you shared this with us.

  6. Debbie, this post means alot to me. I truly appreciate the time you took to write it. It is from your heart and is filled with love and wisdom.

    I have printed it and will read it often. Thank you so much. You are a wonderful mom and woman of God and I am so glad to have met you in the blogging world!

  7. Thank you for sharing this. It has given me many things to consider in the way I raise my own children. I to am very glad to have met you through our blogs :0)

  8. I am with you on the relaxed attitude the second time around. I have tons more patience with my little ones. They are my focus.

  9. "Selena interacts with me on more of a positive note, she has learned to express her needs and wants in a gentle manner, not out of fear, but knowing that she isn’t always going to get what she wants, but she will receive the respect and love from me that she deserves."

    This sums it up for me. This is a beautiful post, a good reminder to listen to our heart and kids, and to parent positively! Thanks for sharing your wisdom.