My Parenting Transformation Journey – page 2
(Click here for page 1)
My head is so full of all the things that need to change in the way I parent my children. It can be overwhelming to remember all of the principles that I’ve been learning from my new mentor Nicholeen Peck – knowing that they are true and right principles, and knowing that our family will most definitely benefit from putting them to use – but I also know that if I don’t make the transition slowly, I’ll burn out and fall back into old habits.
In case you don’t know, Nicholeen has done foster parenting for many years, parenting some of the toughest teenagers with the most twisted kinds of addictions and behavior problems. Over the years, she earned a reputation for facilitating miraculous changes in these youth, and ultimately ended up on a BBC reality show called “The World’s Strictest Parents“.
When she was asked to do the show, she said that she didn’t really consider herself strict… but because she wouldn’t allow her children to go to the pub, or get tattoos or drink and smoke, according to the producers, she qualified.
So for almost two full weeks, two 17 year old rebellious teenagers from England were sent to live in her Utah home, and the cameraman followed, to capture what promised to be an explosive and entertaining freak show.
However, what they observed with her parenting style, was something quite different than they expected. Nicholeen and her husband were calm, controlled, patient, loving, very deliberate in teaching correct principles, and then letting the children govern themselves. There was a very predictable and simple system for issuing consequences, and the rules were clearly established and strictly enforced. But best of all, the parents were always calm and in control (of themselves) – something that I’ve struggled with. I can be unpredictable and I parent differently on one day than I do on the next, depending on my mood of the moment. I can see now how tough that can be on a child, because they never quite learn what’s expected of them (because the expectations are there but not really taught), so as a result the children can struggle, not knowing exactly how to please their parents.
When you hear a child say, “Nothing I do is ever good enough…” then you can pretty well guess that the parents’ expectations have been inconsistent, and that the consequences for misbehavior are unpredictable… sometimes even non-existent.
In Nicholeen’s episode, and by the end of the two weeks, the teenagers were crying and begging to stay. They expressed how safe they felt, and they didn’t want to leave. The young man who had smoked since he was 8 and who struggled with several serious addictions was so changed in just 8 days that he felt inspired to set goals, change his life, and ultimately went on to quit smoking for good. He had been a high school dropout, and the last I heard he was finishing up his University classes.
The young woman also showed a transformation. After fighting tooth and nail to dress as immodestly as she had in England, she excitedly shared how shocked and beautiful she felt in a different kind of dress, and how she had never felt so beautiful, with so much of her body covered. She literally radiated.
As I watched Nicholeen’s episode of the show (which incidentally became THE most watched episode of all), I got a new vision for how joyful and rewarding parenting could be. Not only did it help me realize how good my kids already are, (because they are already respectful and loving) but it showed me how we can become even better and stronger as a family as I learn the skills of deliberate parenting, consciously teaching myself and my family the principles of self-government.
I signed up for Nicholeen’s 10-week Implementation Course but have yet to begin officially… planning to get my head wrapped around the first steps today. Over the last few weeks, in preparation I’ve been reading her book, attending a couple classes, and taking lots of notes.
My first decision (based on my own instinct for what my family needs) has been to focus on praising more. I’ve been trying to make a point to notice all the things that the kids are doing well, and call attention to those things. And not just saying, “Good job!” but really describing in full sentences like, “Just now, I asked you to get your shoes on and you immediately said ‘okay’. That is so great… And then you found your shoes and put them on without a fuss. I am so impressed that you were able to follow instructions so well. I can tell that you’re working hard to make good choices, and I appreciate it so much.”
The words and the vocabulary have such a deep impact and a soothing effect on the children. I’m learning that I don’t have to make a big excited to-do about the praise – just calmly talking descriptively has so much power.
So that’s what I’ve been trying to do better today. Now I’m off to see what the implementation course wants me to do next…