Parenting Style #436

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, you know that the NFL and it’s respective teams have come under a tremendous amount of scrutiny for how they have handled the personal choices of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and other players within the league. I am not here to agree or disagree with the actions taken by the NFL or the teams impacted, but these two stories impacted me more than I’d like to outwardly admit so I thought why not write about it in my blog!

After my initial head-shaking-in-disgust reaction, I started to think about these stories from a parenting perspective because that’s what I do now. For Ray Rice, how did he ever come to think it was an appropriate action to hit a woman so hard she was knocked her off her feet and rendered unconscious? He had to see or learn it from somewhere or someone… For Adrian Peterson, why would you inflict upon your son a questionable punishment your parents took against you? Isn’t one of the “benefits” of parenting the opportunity to do it better, or at least different, than your parents did?

As I was asking myself (and continue to ask myself) these and other rhetorical questions, I started to think about my parenting style. I remember seeing on FaceBook some sort of parenting style quiz and it made me chuckle, because I don’t have just one style of parenting, I have what is called a 2-year old. Therefore, my parenting style evolves day by day, hour by hour, and sometimes even minute by minute. What drives these evolutions? For starters, trying to find my way in the sea of thousands of parenting styles, tips, and techniques found on the internet. However, more often then not, my style evolves because it’s what Little Miss needs from me, and more recently my style evolves because I am preparing Little Miss for being a Big Sister.

Here’s a perfect example of said evolution – the use of the timeout. Timeouts used to work great when Little Miss decided she was going to hit, kick, and/or head butt me. Within a week of using them multiple times a day, and even multiple times an hour, I came to realize that she was hitting, kicking, and/or head butting JUST to be in a timeout. It was her way of “asking” to remove herself from a situation that she was not happy with, wether it be nap time, getting dressed for the day, or walking our puppy in the morning, among other things. So instead of positively reinforcing her inappropriate actions with a timeout, I started to tell her no, hold her arms down, and move my head out of striking distance. When she is calm, I acknowledge her feelings of being upset and/or frustrated and tell her that hitting anyone or anything with any part of her body is not how we act. I have to tell you, when I first read about that approach on the internet, I laughed and thought, she is not even 2…how can “talking” about her feelings stop the behavior? I have been using this approach for 2-3 weeks now and she is hitting less often, so clearly something is working and I am going to keep riding that train until it doesn’t run anymore.

The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again expecting a different result – this has never been more true then under the umbrella of parenting. There is no doubt that I hate the reality of there being “Ray Rice” and “Adrian Peterson” stories occurring out in the world on a daily basis, but if there ever is a silver lining, it’s my take-away from those stories – the simple act of questioning my parenting style is what makes me a better parent. It’s certainly not fun to question myself time and time again, but because I am, I can be more confident that I am doing everything possible to raise 2 girls who are strong, independent, positive contributors to society.

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