I have an internal dilemma: Is it that I am a lazy mom, or is it that I am a believer in systems? It’s likely a bit of both. Whatever the root cause, I am struggling to change parenting systems.

Our teen daughters were raised with a combination of time-outs and natural consequences. Okay, sometimes the consequences weren’t so “natural.” But that was the system and it worked (for them). It worked so well that when we had our home study updated a few years back, the social worker asked them, “Do you have rules in the house?” “Oh, yes,” they assured her. “Well, what happens when you break the rules?” They looked at each. They looked at me. They thought. Dead silence.

Tick, tick, tick. Finally, one of them looked at her confused and said, “We don’t break the rules!” They were 10 and 12 at the time.

It was true. They rarely broke the rules, and when they did, we usually just forgave them. I can’t remember the last time either of them had any consequence of consequence!

DSCN4750 Enter the Triple Threat. Okay, one of them is 2 years old. That should be enough said about that. But the other two, whew, they are a handful. They test, test, test. They push the boundaries. They blatantly defy. They retaliate. It drives me to the brink. Thankfully, they are only 3 and 4 years, so there is a lot they’ve not thought of yet.

And yet, no consequences for them either, at least not anymore. We are leaving behind our previous forms of parenting to embrace love-based parenting. Okay, maybe we’re not so much embracing it as sidling up next to and giving it a tentative sideways glance. But we’re getting there.

This parenting is modeled through the work of Heather Forbes. It’s probably easier for new parents, but for seasoned vets, it’s work. I have to be thinking all the time. Do you realize what a strain that is for me?

Love-based parenting means putting ourselves in the child’s shoes and looking at the heart of the matter. It is about recognizing whether the child is in a state of love or of fear. It sounds really logical and wonderful– and it is– but it takes discipline and practice. In my next installment, I will give some examples from our family of the difference between this and other parenting approaches.

In the meantime, I’ve got 5 minutes until the kids get up. I’d better take a few deep breaths. Cheers!

Photo credit:  Dreena T