The Gentle Path of Parenting
by Ron Huxley, LMFT
“Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.”
Many spiritual traditions, including Christianity, like to turn our normal way of thinking on its head. The answers we get from our faith often contradicts the truths we hear around us. If we follow this different path, it can lead to confusion and ridicule but it may also open doors to greater peace in our relationships. It might also lead to the end result we were wanting in the first place by way of an alternate path.
The verse quoted above is from Matthew 5:5 where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. It is also called the Beatitudes where Jesus gave his “Blessings” or instructions on how to live life with a different “attitude”. If what you have been trying with your family isn’t working perhaps it is time to try something new.
What if you stop fighting with your child to pick up his toys or get your husband to stop leaving his boots on the new carpet? What other approach might you take, a more gentle one, that would get the results you want? The arguing and nagging wasn’t working anyway. That is what your family expects from you. They don’t suspect a different, upside down tactic.
Meek doesn’t have to mean weak. You will have to have a new attitude to make this upside down thinking work. Actually, you will have to stop trying to make it work. Much of the spiritual principle of parenting referenced here is that you get something (or something new and better) when you stop wanting something or striving so hard. It’s kind of like when you tell you child not to eat his broccoli and then he wants to eat it. Unfortunately, our relationships are triggered negatively. We expect a fight and so it is a fight we get. We expect mom to yell and so we ignore or stay stuck in front of the screen until she does. The earlier warnings she gave done mean anything. Predictable and annoying.
What would this meek approach look like if we tried that? What is the opposite of what you have been doing? What would calm look like if that was your super power? Nothing rattles mom or dad, not even forgotten chores. Ta da!
What if natural consequences took over instead? What if you get a carpet cleaning estimate and gave it to dad and then asked him to schedule it because you and your girlfriends are going out for coffee and a movie? Perhaps it sounds a bit manipulative but why should everyone else have all the fun watching you spin like an angry top. The alternative to keep doing what you have been doing and that hasn’t worked. You could give up instead and pick up dad’s shoes for him or your children’s toys and just be your families slave. No? Well, that’s try my idea of meekness. It isn’t weakness or complacency or wimpish. It is a calm, gentle approach to dealing with life’s problems and owning your own power. It is accepting that you are a powerful person and using that power in a productive, gentle manner that also respects the other powerful people in your family and fosters creativity in them to use that power respectfully toward you.
Take some time to reflect on this and begin to brainstorm some different strategies and tactics other then a tantrum or yelling or giving up?