Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship Pt 8: Love

P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship - Component #8 Love is the ribbon that ties patience, IMG_04231empathy, acceptance, compassion, encouragement, forgiveness, and understanding all together.

Love is not a feeling - it is an action.

Love does not just occur or present itself – it takes effort.

Love is not a noun – it is a verb!

Your child will not just feel loved because you say you love him.

He/She must feel it through your actions.

This may take the form of a hug, a smile, or a kiss; but it takes some action before love can be experienced.

It will do your child no good to talk about how much you love him if he does not experience your love through your actions.

All else pales in comparison to a child feeling loved.

Children need this love above anything else.

The practice of love is difficult.

The process of expressing love is displayed through the actions of showing patience, connecting in empathy, providing acceptance, approaching with compassion, offering encouragement, showering with forgiveness, and seeking to truly understand your child.

If you have enjoyed P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L., the eight components of a peaceful parent/child relationship, then I would like to know.
If this series has had a positive impact on your life, take a moment and send me an e-mail: info@postinstitute.com

Choose love,

-- B

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Breath-ButtonGet comfortable with being uncomfortable. As parents, our job is to help gently access suppressed emotions, both in our children and ourselves. In general, these are emotions that we ordinarily prefer not to acknowledge. The intent here is to deliberately allow this to occur because these suppressed emotions are the unconscious triggers that cause behaviors and circumstances that are not in our best interests. This means, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Our desire to manipulate or change our children’s behaviors so that we feel more comfortable comes from our inability to just show up and enjoy the wonder of whatever happens exactly as it is. How we interact with what is happening in each moment sows the seeds for what is to come. The quality of those seeds depends upon whether we react or respond.

Michael Brown, is his book The Presence Process, clarifies the difference between reacting and responding. He says,” reacting to our Presence Process bookexperiences means we make decisions based on what we believe happened yesterday and what we think may happen tomorrow. In contrast, we respond to our experiences when we make choices based on what’s happening right here, right now. This response draws on the wisdom we derive from past experience, whereas reactivity is driven by the unresolved trauma that’s embedded in us. Once we integrate the energetic patterns that underlie our behavior and beliefs, It’s possible to respond to all our experiences rather than reacting”.

Although this is something we all must do for ourselves, by being role models for our children in this way also enhances our ability to go deeply into the trauma and pain that our children have experienced so that we no longer are bound by our own fears and concerns. As I have said, you cannot take your children where you have not gone yourself in pursuing uncomfortable suppressed emotional states. So the more we can just be, the more our children will be able to "just be". When there is no longer a need to communicate through behaviors, there are no unwanted behaviors – those that no longer serve the greatest good. Your children know this.

Peace that Passeth All Understanding: Emodiversity

A recent post of mine (http://postinstitute.com/blog/2015/02/18/the-way-to-find-peace/) discussed how peace is not about feeling good, it’s about feeling everything–a concept that may have astounded some people. As parents of very challenging children, we are often at the edge of our wits and emotional tolerance, and want more than anything, just a little peace. We have had it, we are tired, worn out and in some cases desperate for a break. It may be that the break we seek is always right there/here with us - closer to us than we are to ourselves.

A recent article (http://www.mindful.org April 2015) entitled Emodiversity: The Key to Happiness, asked if the route to happiness was simply to feel more positive emotions and fewer negative ones?

Research is beginning to show a strong rebuttal to the argument that feeling good is the way to be happy. It appears that Emodiversity–a measurement that includes positive emotions and negative emotions, and considers the level, the variety and abundance) showed that people with a mixture of both, (high emodiversity) were less likely to be depressed than people with positive motions alone. Two research studies from four countries and six institutions–including Yale University and Harvard Business School–surveyed over 36,000 people, found that emodiversity had a positive effect on people’s emotional health as well as on their physical health (less medication use, lower government healthcare costs and fewer doctors visits/days spent in the hospital.

Although this may be considered astounding to some, those who practice mindfulness can attest to the reality that experiencing whatever emotional content arises within us, and is allowed to be experienced non-judgmentally, yields a greater ability to both endure, allow and remain open to whatever is present for us circumstantially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Mindfulness equips us with a powerful tool, not to protect us from our boat being rocked, but to be able to enjoy the swim if such occurs. Jesus once said, “Resist not evil” (Matt. 5:39). Mindfulness is one of the best ways I can think of to resist not evil.

Be at peace.

How to Stop Doing What Doesn’t Work

Q&AQ: How do I stop doing the things that do not help me or my child?

A: Stop doing that

Q: But how?

A: You stop doing that by stopping doing that.

Q: Could it really be that simple?.

A: It is that simple. If I were to pay you $1 million to stop doing that, whatever that is, do you think you could stop doing that? Or at the least, would you not pay much, much more attention to the issue and thereby make much quicker progress? Is your life and the life of your child not worth much more than that? It is all a matter of priority and perspective. Some things are more important than others. When we discover what we are making more important, and then evaluate if it is indeed more important, then we choose to make that change. That is why, when I say, choose love, although it appears simple, for so many of us it is so far in the background of our lives it almost appears as if impossible to live. Yet if we live as though we were being paid $1 million to choose love, I suspect the choice, the opportunity and the will to do so would be so much more accessible to us. So the real question is, is it important enough to stop? And if not, why not?

Only One Day to Celebrate Love? You Gotta Be Kidding!

Heart ValentineIt is funny, no actually sad, that we only have one day a year to celebrate love – Valentines Day. We have numerous days for celebrating war-ing events and for those lost in war – 4th of July, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, D-Day etc. There have probably been more people lost to lack of love than have ever been lost in war – and the casualties of war have been noted by many - the numbers are staggering. But to those lost to love, or rather lack of it, are hardly ever thought of. 50% of the children who age out of foster care for example end up in prison (last stat I read), and the lives of those of us who have lived with a conditional love that demands we live up to other’s expectations to get their “love” is no more true love than a treat given to a dog for a reward in training.

Pat O’Brien’s now famous prayer  for foster and adopted children "that you may love me the most when I deserve it the least, because that is when I need it the most” paves the way for a love like no other – unconditional – that love which we cannot earn, and that love which we cannot loose. Who among us loves their children like that, our precious spouses or for that matter even ourselves? We are all so often lost to love though in truth it may be closer to us than we are to ourselves.Sticker-Free-Red

So let’s use Valentine’s Day as a reminder, not to treasure love for a day, but to remind us that love is everyday – and we would do well to remember that – and hence celebrate it as one major day a year in case we have forgotten that it is that which makes our hearts beat and our breath flow in and out. As my friend Swami Beyondananda so famously said, “We are not here to earn God's love, we're here to spend it! So spend it wisely, spend it foolishly, but keep spending it and never stop.

Why Oxytocin Matters to You

Black-Man-Pointing-at-YouOxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone in the brain. It is a learned response from birth and most likely beginning in utero. When the infant is upset the parent soothes the infant thereby teaching the oxytocin response. In time we learn to have the response during simple interactions like making eye contact, simple touching, sharing a hug or a laugh. Though it is natural, it must be taught. Children and adults who've experienced a lot of early stress and trauma typically have not learned to release it effectively or sufficiently, thereby finding themselves not as easily calmed or excited about sustained relationship as they might otherwise be. In the media and in the press it is referred to as the "love hormone." Though this is true, it really doesn't speak to why it's important. As both a hormone and a neurotransmitter, Family-Happy-4-peopleoxytocin has an even more impressive moniker, it is "the anti-stress" hormone. It is the essential hormone that permits us to enjoy life, be healthy, thrive, connect, feel calm, be in relationship, smile in response to a smile, or not frown in response to a frown.

Honestly, I've become obsessed with it. I think about it every day. I've created awebsite dedicated to it entirely (www.oxytocincentral.com). You could even say that I am in love with it. When I talk about it I get butterflies in my tummy. I go to sleep thinking about it and wake up seeking it. Let me put it simply and succinctly - Oxytocin makes love and relationship possible. Oxytocin makes love and relationship possible. Oxytocin makes love and relationship possible. If you want to improve your relationship with your child you must...Click to read more

Unconditonal Love: What is it and how do we get there from here?

We have talked about unconditional love many times.  but for most of us, it is just an intellectual pursuit. We really have no idea, no concept, no real experience of unconditional love. I often wonder how we can teach this to parents who have no model other than their own very limited "conditional" parenting imprints passed down from generation to generation. So we try this and that, diagrams and descriptions. Unconditional love - that which there is nothing a child can do to earn, and nothing a child can do to loose. We don't even treat ourselves with such love and respect, let alone our spouses, family and friends. Michael Brown, in his book The Presence Process, presents to us all a way into this state of love that is one of the finest ways to open our hearts and minds that I have seen. He eloquently summarizes this journey in this quote below. His book is a 10 Week Process for helping us to get comfortable with our discomforts and begins to move us into an appreciation, application and an experience of love and freedom like no other. This is not an intellectual read. It is a week by week series of exercises designed to free us from the past and the future allowing an ever expanding experience of the present. This is not a religious approach. You don't need to believe anything. It is strictly based on a psychological paradigm that is easily understood and digested if you take the time. His words are simple, powerful and profound. You will not be the same person after enjoying this book. Pretty much guaranteed.

Our journey into uncovering the nature of this great mystery called love starts with being unconditional towards ourselves by feeling what we are authentically feeling without judging the experience in a any way, and without trying to fix, change, understand, heal, or transform it. Being willing to integrate our own discomfort - to perceive it as valid and hence required, and behaving toward it accordingly - is the root of experiencing forgiveness and realizing peace." Presence Process book

You can buy it here on Amazon if you like. Let me know how it works for you. Choose Love. -- B

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired?

The fact that our children's behaviors affects parents so personally and deeply is a critical issue. It is heart wrenching, heart breaking and depressing at times to have to "put up" with our children's behaviors - especially when it affects us so directly (hitting, spitting, hurtful words etc). It takes a lot of personal work on the part of parents to be able to "just be" with our children in a way that does not add fuel to their fire, and "allows" for the parent to accept the child "as they are in that moment". We cannot change the present, but we can influence the future as we all know. The place to do this however is not in our minds... in our understanding but at a "feeling-felt-perception" place. This allowing our own personal discomfort to be experienced to the fullest - not as in "enjoy the pain" but merely to allow it to unfold and move on with the insights presented in those "gifts" to be used as "fuel" for greater compassion and love for ourselves, our children and for all others as well. The way out is through and does not require fixing, sedating,or other techniques to "make it go away". Or, we can always choose to re-act over and over and over and … until we are sick and tired of being sick and tired enough to finally say “enough”. And yes, easier to say than to do, but what else do we have on our agenda as children of God but to learn to love?

The End. Not.

Bryan often talks about process versus outcome. Outcome is the end. Process is ongoing. It never ends. This process is observable, knowable, and predictable. The more you observe, the more you know and the more you can predict. The more you can predict, the more you can be proactive in your parenting approach. I know many of us feel that our children are unpredictable. But really… once the David Journalbehaviors, the meltdowns, the disruptions are over, do they not leave a trail of logical steps that having known all this, we could have easily done much to prevent many of these occurrences?

The process with our special children may never end. But that is not a life sentence for them or us. It is merely an observable fact and the more you observe the more you know and hence the more you can predict and prevent. Many parents like us fear that our children will never grow up, never leave the house, or in some way shape or form always be our responsibility. This is a real fear. This does not mean that it is a real fact. But again it is a real fear.

Our children truly are gifts. The trick comes in appreciating and being open to what they have to offer us. There are many of us that just cannot stand anymore, cannot take it anymore, are done with it, through with it and over it. This is not our children’s fault. To blame them for our reactions is to take on the victim role, and the only way to win is to become a victor. In order for us to be a victor there must be a victim or a loser. This is not the role we want for our children. The gift that they offer is the opportunity to be free. Free from our self imposed reactionary life and a life of being "free to choose" who and what we want to be. And that dear parent is the pearl of great price!

Reactive behavior is based on a belief that the world is happening to us, and it is therefore our duty either to defend ourselves or to impose our will on what’s happening. This appears real because our attention is almost exclusively focused on a reflected past and projected future. Love based parenting teaches that “stress causes us to react from the past to project the future that may not be in our best interest”. And in most cases is not in our best interest. Nor is it in our children’s best interest. As long as our “buttons are being pushed”, our “triggers are being activated” and we are getting upset–we as parents are not learning our lessons.

We have two lessons to learn:
#1 is to remember who we really are.
#2 is to choose who we want to be.
The answers to these two questions will determine the path of our parenting approach.

In every moment we have an opportunity to choose. Bryan says, “choose love”. I add to this, choose who you want to be. Not who or what you are currently experiencing with the behaviors you display in any moment, but in fact who you want to be–then just do it. Some say, “that is just who I am”. This response is limiting and is a "life sentence" so long as you believe it.

This process of choosing and doing is a gift that can have eternal consequences for us. The change from reactive to responsive behavior is the single most important adjustment to our perception of the world, and therefore our interaction with, that will benefit our entire experience in life.

For those who seek outcomes, results and only behaviors that are acceptable to them, they will never see “The End”. And it is likely that they will be frustrated time and time again in their parenting efforts. For those who see the process, progress, and are able to observe, learn and predict more accurately, they will be better prepared to accept and love their children for who they are not just for who they want them to be.

David Durovy is the president and the janitor of The Post Institute. He tries very hard every day to bring Bryan's message of Love Based Family-Centered Parenting to the world. He and his wife Susan have fostered around 27 children and adopted four children at 6, 16, 17, and 21 years of age from the Virginia Foster Care program.

To Spank or Not To Spank

Ever wonder if there just might be a better way?

I  heard a mother threaten to smack her child if he didn’t stop crying, and a father yelling at his children to sit down and shut up! Professor Murray Strauss of the University of New Hampshire has conducted research which indicates that 94% of adults in our society believe it is okay to hit a toddler. That’s 9 out of every 10 members of our society believe it is okay to use violence against our most vulnerable population. So let me ask you a question: Are you one of the 9? Do you believe it is okay to hit a toddler or to use force in their correction? No judgment on my part, only curiosity. As a network member, you may have been exposed to the findings on the developing brain, multitudes of platitudes on bringing more love and understanding into the home rather than fear and stress. You are a part of a small fraction of adults in our society and that is very sad.

Two of my good friends Drs. Lou Lombardo and Karen Polonko are sociology professors at Old Dominion University. They travel around the world presenting papers on violence against children and have brought some of the leading scientist, researchers, trauma gurus, etc. to Old Dominion’s student body. Both of them are very loving and passionate human beings. They do not believe in violence against children. In fact, they know violence against children, even spanking, is not in the best interest of children or our society.

What I find interesting is that Lou is a very peaceful man. He is passionate about not hurting children. Karen says that Lou came from the greatest family ever. However, Karen didn’t come from such a peaceful environment and she says routinely how screwed up she has felt when it comes to relationships. Yet, both these two wonderful people make a concerted effort to practice what they preach not just in their work but in everyday life. Lou practices his peace daily by gardening and mentoring students. Karen recently took a sabbatical from work and read eight books on parenting, not for her own children, but for the recreation of her own blueprints for how she was parented. As she says that it is very difficult to recognize what you never received so she is downloading positive perspectives into the hardware of her mind and heart.

Child abuse arises primarily from generational imprints of fear, and then continues to be activated by the experience of stress in our lives. In order to end child abuse we must honestly recognize the pain we have grown up with, and the messages that we carry from many generations of stress, fear, and abuse in parenting. Not in a judgmental way but rather as an exercise in observation and mindfulness. From this perspective we can gain a more clear understanding of our behavior in relationship to our children when we become stressed as they struggle to work through their own past painful experiences.

To spank or not to spank, that is a good question. I know there is an entire tradition and culture around physical punishment. Other good questions might be...
1 - Does it really work? (let's examine the penal system to see if the death penalty keeps people from crime etc).
2 - Will it make us damaged adults (as in, I was spanked and I turned out alright). Are any of us really alright?
3 - Is There a Better Way?

I wonder how many of us would swat our spouses to teach them, or would welcome a swat ourselves in order to help us learn....rhetorical question of course, but why would we hit our children? Is it because we lack other alternatives, like love, influence, and the time it takes to really know our children? Read the article How Not to Use Guilt and Shame and let me know what you think. Pain = Learning?

Choose Love.