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Attachment Parenting Article
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New Year’s Parenting Pledge

By Caron B. Goode

While having breakfast with friends at a restaurant one Saturday morning, I noticed a 30-something father sharing a meal with his son, about 3 years old. As he waited for his food, the boy became restless and moved around on his side of the booth. Then he slid under the table and sat on the floor. This action seemed to embarrass his father, who kept demanding, "Get up. Don't do that. Get up now." When the boy didn't respond to these orders, the father started kicking him to urge him to come out from under the table.

The father's large foot struck his son squarely at the base of the spine with considerable force.

The boy froze where he was, not in defiance but in pain. I saw him favor the place on his back where his father's foot landed. He couldn't get up because of the pain. The father clearly wasn't aware of where his foot hit or that he had even hurt his son. Nor did he show caring about his son's health; he was so focused on his own embarrassment, he couldn't see what was happening for the boy.

Awareness and caring
If you experience even a twinge of self-recognition in this incident, it's time to make a solid resolution as a parent. Ask yourself, "What resolution would make the biggest difference in my parenting?"

I suggest you base your answer and the resolution that follows it on two principles: awareness and caring.

Awareness in the situation described above would require the father to speak to his child differently. He had many options, including inviting the boy to sit on his lap or at least talking kindly to him. Caring for the child would mean not kicking him in the first place!

In more general terms, awareness means:
• Watching what effect you have on your child when you communicate and interact.
• Choosing to try another way if what you do and say doesn't elicit the response you want.
• Making conscious decisions that will benefit everyone involved, including yourself.
Acting in a more caring way means:
• Taking a deep breath before you do anything at all. It gives you time to reflect and ask, "What is the best way to handle this situation?"
• Taking care in how you speak and act. Think carefully about the possible consequences of your words and actions so you can achieve the most desirable results in the current situation.
• Seeking opportunities to feel grateful for your kids and fully show your love. This makes you feel good and also models appreciation of others to your children.

Parent's pledge
Yes, I am stating my intention to be a more aware and caring parent. Yes, I am making a commitment to be aware of my words and actions and their effects on my child. Yes, I am willing to be more caring and compassionate than ever before.

Take this awareness and caring resolve a step further. Turn it into a pledge — a promise — to your kids. If that sounds hokey, it doesn't need to; after all, you know who carries the "flag" that represents your heart. In this era that emphasizes patriotism, it's more appropriate than ever.

As you write out and sign your pledge, ask yourself, "Exactly why am I signing this?" As in any serious written transaction, signing this pledge represents a commitment that defines your parenting role.

Your signature means:
• You are willing to make proactive choices that benefit everyone involved.
• You are committing to treat your children with care and compassion. You use that willingness to open doors leading to a new level of awareness.
• You see your children as whole, independent beings, not as your possessions.
• You will remember to find positive, inspiring attitudes and approaches in your parenting.
• Most importantly, you are making the commitment to being a better parent real in your life.

My dream is that so many parents will create, sign and act on their pledges that their collective actions will evolve into a parenting revolution. I invite you to be part of that revolution by pledging your caring to your kids today. Never unconsciously "kick your kids under the table" again.

Instead, be aware and care — for this year and for all time.

© Caron B. Goode

NFO Attachment Parenting Editor Caron Goode, Ed.D., has written six books on child development, two monographs and co-authored two additional books. Her articles have appeared in more than 200 national newspapers and more than two dozen websites. She and her husband, Tom Goode, ND, direct Inspired Parenting and Inspired Living International in Tucson, Arizona, offering offer parent education workshops, Full Wave Breathing™ and Mindbody Talk™ wellness workshops.

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