Unclutter Your Parenting – Part 1
by Chick Moorman & Thomas Haller
Clean out your closets, recycle old magazines, and remove from your bedroom the exercise equipment you haven’t used in the past two years. You know the drill. It’s called uncluttering you life and your personal space. Your closet shelves, car, bedroom, bookcases, desk drawers, and your child’s toy box are just some of the possible targets when the get rid of the junk spirit moves you.
But what if your urge to unclutter and simplify your life took on a whole new and unexpected twist?
What if it involved something more important than the number of discarded shoes scattered on your closet floor or the unused collection of beanie babies stored in you attic?
What if you decided to unclutter something vastly more significant, something that would positively affect your children, your family, and yourself?
What if you purposefully removed ineffective tools from your parenting tool box?
What if you intentionally pitched parenting techniques that are disrespectful, demeaning, and counter productive to raising responsible, caring, confident children?
What if you gave yourself a valuable and much needed parenting makeover?
Consider the following:
The old tools are no longer working. Yelling, shaming, scolding, lectures, inducing guilt, spanking, and bribing children with stars, stickers and performance charts give only the illusion of bring effective. The gains you see are short-lived and quickly become self-defeating. Fear, resentment and negative core beliefs are often the long term result of using these outdated strategies. These tools do not build self-reliant, self-responsible, self-motivated children. It is time to trash them.
If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to look at everything as if it were a nail. Using power against children invites a power struggle. You pull out your hammer and they pull out a bigger one. You get a bigger hammer and they continue the escalation with an even bigger hammer. Because parents have the biggest hammers we often win these battles. The problem here is that no one wins in a hammer fight. Everybody loses. It is time to unclutter your parenting techniques by getting rid of the hammer and becoming skillful using more appropriate parenting tools.
Eliminate judgment. Judgment keeps you from seeing your children clearly. If you judge a child as lazy, you are less likely to see ambitious behavior. If you judge her as uncaring, you will have difficulty noticing her benevolent acts. Throw out the ineffective tool of attaching judgmental labels to your children’s behavior and see their true depth and possibility.
Be out of your mind. Use silent times to wash old and useless thoughts from your mind. Resist the urge to overanalyze parenting issues. Stop thinking and cluttering your mind with incessant chatter. Pay no attention to the outdated thought that, “My parents did it to me and I turned out alright.” Listen instead to your heart. Follow your intuition.
Appreciate the moment. The best present to give your children is to be fully present when you are with them. Throw out thoughts about the future and the past when you interact with your children. There is only one moment to see, feel, express, learn, grow, or heal with your children. This is it. Pitch the rest. They are just cluttering your present parenting moments.
Reawaken your curiosity. Clean out your present expectations and your assumed knowledge of why your children do things. Return to wonder. Be fascinated by what they do. Let yourself be awed. Allow your curiosity to bloom. See with beginner’s eyes as if you were seeing this moment for the first time.
Clean up your schedule. Every child in the world spells love, T-I-M-E. Adjust your priorities. Pick through your list of social and business activities. Get rid of old obligations and habits that prevent you from investing time with your children.
Cut down on talking. Reduce your need to explain, lecture, moralize, rationalize, and convince. The first step towards love is to listen. Give your children the gift of your presence by hearing rather that telling, by acknowledging instead of convincing, by understanding rather that jumping to conclusions.
Apologize and begin again. Today can be the time of new beginnings. Do you need to begin again with one of your children? Do you need to make amends? If so, tell her what you learned and what you intend to do differently from now on. Then follow through. Unclutter the history of accumulated past mistakes by making a new beginning today.
Rework truth. Free your mind of the notion that there is ONE truth. You know your truth. Allow your children to find theirs. Model for your children how you live your truth. Support them in their efforts to find their own truth and encourage them to trust it.
Give your children space. Yes, protect them, keep them safe, and give them guidance. And unclutter their lives by giving them space. The more you think you know how their life should unfold the less you will be present to the way their life is unfolding now. The more you clutter their lives with “shoulds,” they more you will miss what is.
Fix it up. What parenting concerns need to be fixed in your home? Do you need to fix a relationship, the unsupervised use of the TV and the internet, or a reoccurring stress? Fix your mind first so you are tuned into fixing problems rather than fixing blame. Maintain a solution-seeking mindset as you fix it
Punishment doesn’t work. Do you like the way the penal system is working in this country? If not, get rid of it and replace it with teaching and holding your children accountable by implementing natural, respectful, reasonable consequences.
Give yourself a perception check. Remember, you can choose to see any parenting situation differently from the way you are presently seeing it. Perception is always a choice. Unclutter your mind by asking yourself, “Is this way of seeing this problem the one that brings the most light and love to the situation?” Use this present moment to enlighten your parenting perceptions and actions.
A thorough uncluttering of your parenting style could make your family life sparkle. It could be work like a fresh coat of paint brightening both the exterior and the interior of yourself and your children. Uncluttering your parenting style could make room to add positive energy and love that will produce brighter, cleaner, and healthier family relationships.
If you enjoyed this article, check out Teaching the Attraction Principle to Children: Practical Strategies for Parents and Teachers to Help Children Manifest a Better World, by Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman, published by Personal Power Press, as well as their other books: Parent Talk: How to Talk to Your Children in Language that Builds Self-Esteem and Encourages Responsibility, The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose and The Only Three Discipline Strategies You Will Ever Need: Essential Tools for Busy Parents.
A portion of the proceeds from all Personal Power Press books, fund the building
of a library at Healing Acres Equine Retirement Ranch, Inc. in Michigan where
The Hallers live. Tax deductible donations can be made at www.healingacres.com.
© 2008, Chick Moorman & Thomas Haller
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chick Moorman is the director of the Institute for Personal Power, a consulting firm providing high-quality professional development activities for educators and parents. He is a former classroom teacher with over forty-five years of experience in the field of education. His mission is to help people experience a greater sense of personal power in their lives so they can in turn empower others. Chick conducts full-day workshops and seminars for school districts and parent groups. He also delivers keynote addresses for local, state, and national conferences. More than 300,000 participants have attended his lectures.
Chick is a cancer survivor. During his treatment he successfully used the skills in Teaching The Attraction Principle™ to Children to bring himself back to health.
Haller is the founder and
director of Healing Minds Institute, a center devoted to empowering individuals
with skills for creating interpersonal change, building relationship success,
and raising responsible children. He has had a private practice for over eighteen
years in Bay City, Michigan, as a child, adolescent and couples therapist and
an AASECT certified diplomat of sex therapy. Thomas is known locally as “The
Love Doctor,” appearing on a weekly morning radio program answering relationship
and parenting questions on air. Thomas is the chief parenting correspondent
for WEYI-TV 25 and can be seen offering the Parenting Tip of the Week every
As a widely sought-after national and international presenter, Thomas conducts full-day workshops and seminars for churches, school districts, parent groups, and counseling agencies. He is also a regular lecturer at universities across the country. Thomas’ success in using the Attraction Principle shows when you consider his family: His sons, eleven year-old award winning author of the Fred the Mouse series, Reese, and seven year old newly publisher author, Parker, and their mom, a kindergarten teacher who’s also an author.