Children can be very cute, adorable, loveable and gorgeous, all knowing, extremely observant, and often one step ahead of us. So when it comes to raising children there is a lot to get your head around so to speak, as they are a complete package – each one an individual with different needs and expressions.
I know that for us, having our first child – as with many parents – was amazing, special and totally unlike anything we had ever experienced before, on many levels. Our daughter was what you would call an easy child – she slept well, ate well and was always content and happy.
So here we had a little person ready to take on the world, needing support, love and guidance, looking to us as her role models, a reflection of how to be in the world.
We knew instantly we had to parent in a way that allowed her to be who she was, for us to not impose on her in any way, but at the same time to educate her and show her that the choices she made and how she chose to live impacted on everyone and everything… that in life there were consequences for the choices she made and that no matter what those choices were, there was always a flow on effect of some kind.
Introducing boundaries and consequences felt like a way to support her in feeling the consequences of her choices. It was important that we allowed her to express, but with that expression came a responsibility. As parents, we felt that without having boundaries and consequences for her behaviour and choices she would quite quickly become a big person without the understanding of what it is to truly support herself and others.
It began with the little things, such as if she was being disruptive at the dinner table she was removed until she could re-join in a way that allowed everyone to eat without the disruption. If she spoke in a way that was harmful, then she was asked “How would you feel if someone spoke to you, or about you, in this way?” Things were bought back to her, bringing her to accountability and to be responsible for what she said and how she behaved. She was given a choice to take responsibility for her way of being, or not, and we found that the consequences and boundaries allowed her to feel the end result of her actions.
We lived in a home where we all supported each other, letting each other know how things felt, constantly allowing ourselves to feel what was needed, being responsible for our choices and how they impacted on everyone, and as parents we felt she was no exception to this level of responsibility.
It was a constant unfolding in our own lives, something we were constantly refining and adjusting as needed; our routines, rhythms, sleep patterns, diet, everything was always shifting, our choices were always being looked at and our level of responsibility was forever expanding and deepening.
We had our own boundaries and consequences, so when we introduced these to her it was nothing new; it was not only her – she could see and feel the level of responsibility we lived ourselves and she was part of that.
As I made adjustments in my life with things such as my bedtime, use of electronic devices, diet and quality of being, so too did she. It was not from being told but from a place that was observed and felt.
It was a natural progression for her to feel what was needed next, and now at times she is often making adjustments for what is needed before I have.
Because our choices and way of life have come from what is first felt, then actioned, there has been no resistance from her. She can feel the consistency, love and absoluteness and because of these qualities she has no resistance, only an allowing choice to let herself feel and to go there.
The boundaries and consequences go both ways, as she is just as responsible for calling us to accountability if we step out, as we are to her. It is with this loving support from all of us equally that we have been able to see that for us, boundaries and consequences have supported, and continue to support us immensely. We had to start with ourselves, living and being responsible for the way we lived and for our choices.
You could say that parenting our daughter began with parenting ourselves first.
Published with permission from Michael Serafin.
By Nicole Serafin, 45, Woman, Self-employed Salon owner, wife and mother, Tintenbar NSW