I've been threatening to publish this book for months now, but I'm actually going to do it. We always know we're close to publishing when my friend's daughter, Alexa, models the book for us. This time, she's modeling it for us wearing a princess cape. Perfect.
Nurturing Connection is really about those moments when we or our children are on a yellow light. It's the fork in the road. How do we navigate those moments so that our relationships end up intact? Nurturing Connection is what that's all about. Those moments of emotional upsets can be the ones where we come unglued OR they can be the ones that pull us together as a family.
Anyone who has ever experienced a really rough patch knows that relationships either get closer or further apart when something is difficult. How do we do harness those moments at the fork in the road with our children? How do we take the every day moments of parenting and find ways to connect?
You can read more about my new book, including viewing the table of contents, here. This is also where you go to purchase it. We've got some great pre-order specials going until Monday, May 27. This is how we, as a small publishing company, fund the printing, so your pre-orders really do matter. Buy one for yourself, one for a friend, and one to share for great discounts. All purchases of paperback books will get you a PDF version of the book as soon as we finalize it next week. :-)
In the meantime, here's a sneak peek at the Introduction to the book.
Introduction of Nurturing Connection
"Deepak Chopra spoke powerful words when he said, “Love without
action is meaningless and action without love is irrelevant.” I believe
this speaks deeply to what nurturing connected families is all about and
what we all want when we become parents. We need to realize that we
convey our love, or lack thereof, in everything we do with our children
and our partner. Nurturing connection is about finding ways to
demonstrate love through our actions, as well as our way of being with
Nurturing our relationship with our children is the
heart and soul of consciously parenting. Nurturing relationships, once
they are established, is really an art. It is about remembering that our
children’s need for connection is a primary factor in most of their
behavior. It is about recognizing that, in every parenting situation, we
have choices about how we respond to our children and their behaviors.
It is about seeing every parenting situation as an opportunity to create
connection or disconnection. It is about looking at our everyday
parenting situations and beginning to see how we can choose connection.
It is also about being able to admit when something didn’t go as
planned, to forgive ourselves for not always being the parents we hope
to be, and to forgive our children for not always being the children we
hope they’d be.
When parenting situations challenge us, how we
handle them can create connection or disconnection in our relationship
with our children. We can imagine these situations as forks in the road;
there is one road sign, going off to the left, that says, “Connection”
and another, going off to the right, that says, “Disconnection.” At the
fork, where the roads meet up, we have choices, and the decisions we
make can mean the difference between peace and struggle, not only in
that moment, but also in the relationship as a whole. It is through
these smaller, moment-to-moment decisions that the stage is set and we
and our children move closer together or further apart.
our parenting information leads us further away from connection in the
name of “teaching” our children what is right and wrong. In my own home
growing up, I saw how parenting focused on behavior change alone led to
more disconnection and the need for relationship repair. The advice
given by “professionals” and implemented by my parents created a greater
level of disconnection and chaos within my family. Parents need to
teach their children appropriate behaviors, but they don’t need to do so
at the expense of the relationship.
Children who feel connected
to you will want to please you—and they will. If they aren’t acting in a
way that is acceptable to you, there is something going on with them or
something going on with you, and they’re reacting to your energy or
what is going on with your connection. The first of consciously
parenting’s eight guiding principles says, “All behavior is
communication.” When we are aware of what is going on beneath the
surface, beneath the behavior—such as emotional regulation or
dysregulation, unmet needs, or unresolved traumas—we can respond in a
loving way rather than just reacting to the child’s behavior. And
responding lovingly nurtures the relationship.
We need our
children to have a strong relationship with us so that they can trust
that we’ll be there for them when they need us. And they really do need
us. Behavior-focused parenting information uses pain, fear, punishment,
isolation, shame, and coercion to manage our child’s negative behavior.
When we dole out punishments or focus on the behavior, our children
learn that they cannot come to us. Instead, they seek out information
and support from their peers—those with only a limited number of years
on the planet and limited long-term decision-making skills.
Relationship-focused parenting teaches our children to calm themselves
down by reaching out to us when they’re stressed. It teaches our
children to come to us, the parents, to be supported through challenges
and when they are having a hard time.
Whether we were parenting
consciously from the beginning of our children’s lives or we have worked
hard to create more connection with our growing children, we need to
understand that love and respect are co-created in a relationship. This
idea can be challenging for us as parents, because most parenting
information suggests that parenting is about the adult drawing the line
in the sand and the child submitting. Many parents struggle with the
expectation that their children just need to “do as I say when I say to
do it.” That method of parenting is about control. But control isn’t
co-creation; controlling your children isn’t nurturing, nor is it
realistic in a healthy relationship. This doesn’t mean that your child
doesn’t have to do what you ask or that your own needs don’t matter,
especially as your children grow older. But when we stop and respect our
children and their needs, as well as our own, we are modeling
respectful, nurturing behaviors.
It is the day-to-day experiences
we have as parents that determine whether our children learn
appropriate behavior or not, whether our children learn to regulate
their behavior and emotions or not, and whether we live in a peaceful
environment where everyone respects everyone else’s needs or not. It is
our choice whether or not our children learn these things. If we are
mindful of our parenting choices, we can create the family we want to
have. Many times, we just are not aware that we have choices. Learning
what those choices are is what this book is all about.
at common parenting situations with children of different ages and
stages of development, and we’ll discuss behavior-focused parenting
strategies, which are what we normally see in our society, followed by a
relationship-focused approach. The more that you are able to see
examples of this paradigm shift, the more you will be able to apply it
to your own parenting situations and circumstances.
Please note that nurturing relationships doesn’t mean that if we don’t always make the best choice, we will have somehow failed as parents.
We’re going to have times where we end up creating disconnection because
we’re running on autopilot and parenting according to old road maps
from our childhood. Nurturing relationships means that when we do make a
mistake, we set it right and find ways to reconnect with our children,
to prevent the need to totally repair the relationship. A pilot friend
shared the example of how just a slight shift in the course set early in
the flight can mean the difference between arriving at the destination
and ending up in a different country. When we make small course shifts
early in our parenting, it avoids the need for much larger or radical
repair to our relationship later.
We’ll also talk about how we
can meet our children’s connection needs and nurture the relationship
when we are so busy. We always have places to go, things to do, email to
check, TV to watch. We have laundry that never ends and dinners,
lunches, and breakfasts that need to be planned and prepared. And many
of us also hold down jobs outside the home. Since we clearly don’t live
in a simple world, we need to make our personal world simpler for the
benefit of our families and our children—and ourselves. Even if we can’t
slow things down all the way, we can find ways to simplify and find
ways to create a community of support around us.
Pam Leo points out in her book Connection Parenting,
“We can either meet children’s need for connection or we can spend our
time dealing with the unmet need behaviors. Either way, we spend the
time.” When we can nurture our relationship with our children on a daily
basis, going out of our way to create connection, everything is easier,
and parenting is much more enjoyable."