Connecting as Parents

The rational side of my brain refuses to fully embrace the fluffy concepts of cosmic connections and new age states of mind, but I find myself in the midst of such vortices too often to not take notice.

Three weeks ago I finally committed myself to undertaking writing a new book. The current working title is, “If your child was marble,” and the theme is that parenting should be more like the process of how Michelangelo approached sculpting: setting free the angel trapped within the marble.

Two days after committing to this new project I noticed our middle school was having a guest speaker, Dr. Steve Kahn, a child psychologist who lectures on parenting.

I thought it would be beneficial to listen to what he had to say, and to possibly approach him after the presentation to ask for his advice, essentially to make sure I wasn’t blowing smoke up my own behind regarding how I see the process of parenting.

The day of the presentation came, and one of my many electronic alarms sounded reminding me of the coming presentation. I was swamped with work that actually pays me money, so I seriously contemplated not getting up from my desk to take the two hours out of my day to physically getting there and actually sit through the presentation.

Thankfully I was at an impasse with one of my projects, so I stood up and left for the presentation.

Ten minutes into Dr. Kahn’s speaking I was feeling pretty good about myself. He was touching on many of the parenting issues that I hold dear, particularly around not yelling at our kids, and how counter-productive that is.

I would love to be holier than thou, and be able to profess my parenting superiority by proclaiming how I do not, and have never yelled at my kids, but if I did, I’d most likely spontaneously combust, or be struck by lightning. Alas, I’m like everyone else.

What struck me so strongly through what Dr. Kahn was saying, however, was one key phrase that he repeated more than once. Parenting happens when we react.

Parenting is easy when our children are little angels: doing everything we ask of them, getting good grades, and cleaning up their rooms. What happens, however, when life does not go as we planned? How do we react? The reaction is what kids remember.

I’ve always thought of this as patience, and patience is necessary, but reactions don’t always need to be patient, and we can – with a LOT of work – eliminate yelling from our reactions.

Dr. Kahn continued with other variations of not yelling, and strategies for avoiding yelling. After he was done I was amazed by the similarities between his presentation, and what I want to promote through bent spoon and other media, including the book and here at Trusting Education, in order to better the relationships between parents, kids, and educators. I’m just some dad who came up with these ideas. Dr. Kahn has 25 years of clinical experience to back up his observations.

The one thing that had been holding me back from writing the book earlier was knowing I was just some dad with some different ideas about parenting, which I knew weren’t really that ground breaking. I needed someone with more experience – someone with some kind of legitimate degree in a related field – upon whom I could rely to justify my thoughts before I really forged ahead with the project.

And look what came along. I’m sure it was just a coincidence.