While having breakfast with friends at a restaurant one Saturday morning, I noticed a thirty-something father sharing a
meal with his son, about three 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 embarrassed 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 starting 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 didn’t have the awareness 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 see even a twinkle of self-recognition in this incident, it’s time to make a solid resolution for the new year as a
parent. Ask yourself, “What resolution would make the biggest difference of all 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 talk kindly to him. Caring for the child would mean not kicking him in the first place!
In more general terms, awareness means to:
- Watch what effect you have on your child when you communicate and interact.
- Choose to “try another way” if what you do and say doesn’t elicit the response you want.
- Make conscious decisions that will benefit everyone involved, including you.
Learning to behave in a caring way means to:
- Take 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?”
- “Take 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.
- Seek opportunities to feel grateful for your kids…and fully show your gratitude with love! This makes you feel good and also models appreciation of others to your children.
Now 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, creating a pledge to your child is more appropriate than ever.
You’ll find suggested wording for creating a parenting pledge at www.inspiredparenting.net The following statements will get you started on writing your own:
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.
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 of allegiance defines your parenting role and seals your commitment to be the best you can be.
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. 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 and sign their pledges that their collective actions will evolve into a
I invite you to be part of that revolution by pledging your allegiance to your kids today. Never unconsciously “kick your
kids under the table” again. Instead, adopt the motto Be Aware and Care…for this year and for all time.
Dr. Caron Goode is a Managing Director of the International Breath Institute, an educational and training organization offering weekend seminars and certification in the TransformBreathing Energy Management System. Caron is also the founder of DreamLodge Seminars for women and author of Inspired Parenting series. For further information, see www.InspiredParenting.net and www.FullwaveBreathing.com.