Resting in the True Self
The foundation for conscious parenting is a secure relationship with yourself, with your own True Self.
If you are parenting through a stormy time-- any stormy time at any age--the first step is to connect with your True Self, remembering your own inner wisdom.
It's a practice so unassuming that it's easy to miss. There's no need to 'go big,' just settle in. I'm going to describe it, and it will sound (if it's new to you) too simple. But please, trust me and try.
Begin now, by simply noticing your experience. Sit in a way that is both comfortable and alert, and feel how that feels. Can you feel your weight resting on the chair? Okay, stay with it and feel it for a bit. Let yourself get very still, noticing your feet and letting them rest, then moving through your legs, hips, belly, chest, shoulders and arms, hands and fingers, then up to your neck, and face including your jaw, cheeks, eyes, and brow., noticing each part of your body and letting it be still.
As you get still, you may start feeling your breath moving. If not, notice it on purpose. Get curious about it, feeling the breath coming and going right at the tip of your nose. Can you notice the sensation that tells you you're breathing? Feel it without changing anything.
Maybe after you stay with it for a moment, your attention wanders off to something more interesting or flashy. That is not a problem, it's normal. When you notice, be a little curious about it. Notice where your attention went--a thought about dinner? A cramp in your leg? A feeling about something happening with your child? Once you see it, come back to the breath in your nose. Don't control it, just observe it, feel it, even maybe enjoy it.
Do this for a while. Maybe 2 minutes if it's new for you, 15 or 20 minutes if you can. Don't try to get anywhere special, don't try to be perfect, don't worry about the way it is. Just do it.
This is the workout that builds your relationship to the True Self, the inner awareness, so it gets strong and healthy. It is essential.
Will you try it with me every day for a week? Over time, this practice will transform not only your relationship with yourself, but also your relationship with your family.
The First Step. . .
Yes! Thanks Teach-Through-Love!
Today, in honor of the Autumn Equinox and all that is going on in our world, I am sharing an excerpt from the new Soul Source Autumn Equinox newsletter. The focus is on spiritual tools that can help us to remember and stay true to our Selves even in the midst of difficult times.
Just Breathe" by Julie Bayer Salzman and Josh Salzman (Wavecrest Films)
STOP AND BREATHE
When life gets intense, pull your awareness inward and anchor there. Simply breathe and be aware that you are breathing. Put a hand on your chest or belly and feel the breath move you. Remind yourself gently, "Breathing in, I am aware of this moment. Breathing out, I am open to this moment as it is." Gently step back from the dramatic thoughts and emotions that may be happening. Don't DO anything for a bit, just be.
Suchitra Davenport's Guided Full Moon Meditations and Soul Infusion Mediation
A Body Scan Meditation
Guided Mindfulness Practices from Gloria Shepard
A Nap or Rest
What if We Didn't "Hurry Up"?
I used to want to hurry my kids pretty often. As they would dawdle walking from the car into our front door, as they pored over a drawing in a picture book before we could turn the page, as they told me a story, I was rushing to get to the next thing that had to get done.
But when I was a kid, I don't remember hurrying. I don't remember my mom rushing us to get to the next thing. Mostly what I remember is the feeling of one thing just flowing into the next. Hours spent in the pool or the woods. Getting off the bus and walking up the long driveway after school, with no plans or pressure more urgent than a snack. At a friend's house, we might spend hours outside on the swingset or just mess around in the basement playing a made up game.
This week I was walking and heard a mom tell her child "Hurry up!" I wondered what it would be like to grow up in a hurry, what it's like for kids today. Because kids are hurried. They have to get to daycare, to school, to the grocery store with us. Many have classes and lessons, tutors and 'events.' They have scheduled playdates. Even when they aren't signed up for extra things, kids now are actually doing more homework than I did and spend much more scheduled time in child care than was common in my generation.
If you are raising children right now, do you find yourself hurrying them? Do you ever wonder, what would it be like if we weren't in a hurry? Imagine with me the way your days would go if you never had to say "Hurry up."
Imagine slowing down to the pace of a child. Would you spend more time cuddling in the morning? Holding hands as you walked from place to place? Would breakfast be different? Getting to the car? Cooking dinner? Homework time (if your child does homework)? Imagine bath time. Story time. Bedtime. All of it feeling spacious and open.
What if we each choose one thing and slow down to a child's pace. It could be small, like walking upstairs to get ready for bedtime with them. Let's choose this one thing and dedicate ourselves to operating at child speed with no rushing. Let's try savoring it, allowing it to be exactly what it is, like a mindfulness practice.
When teens are securely connected. . .
They talk with you!
They are pretty cooperative.
They can be vulnerable with you sometimes.
They can be kind to you.
If your teen seems defiant, rude, withdrawn, passive, distant, anxious, or disrespectful, it's a good idea to build connection!
We CAN strengthen connection! Here are some things to try:
Smile and be warm. When you see your teen, offer a smile and friendly words, every single time. Even if they're late for curfew or just overslept. Greet them! Ideally, don't say anything until they look at you. Definitely establish friendly communication before you make any suggestions. "Hey sweetie, I'm so glad you are home safe," comes before a lecture about curfew. Imagine how you want your partner, boss, or your own parent to talk with you and use that as a template.
Listen. I want to believe that I'm a good listener, but when my kids are going through rough or even just interesting times, I am so eager to talk! I want to tell them what I know, offer shortcuts, make their life easier, save them from themselves and bad experiences. I have learned (through hard experience) that doing those things actually blocks my ability to hear them. It communicates a lack of trust, a focus on me rather than them, and fear. So instead, I try to listen without judgment.
When your teen wants to talk, listen without interrupting, explaining, teaching, or advising. Show a genuine interest but don't take over. Keep your mouth shut most of the time. Even if they ask for advice, listen more than you talk, invite them to discover their own understanding by asking open-ended questions, and mirror what they are telling you.
Don't overfocus on them. Another mistake I make is to overdo it, asking too many questions. I am learning to follow their lead. Listen endlessly when they're talking. Accept it completely when they're quiet. Don't use the 'can opener' method of parenting, trying to force them to open up! When they're not interested in talking, it's time for us to be interested in our own lives.
Be patient. Connection takes time. Small moments of connection are great, don't try to force anything.
Connection is Protection for Teens
Lately I've been writing about some of the ways we can parent so that our kids feel securely attached and connected with us and the world. This isn't something we talk about much for teenagers, and although it looks different (of course!) at this age, it is just as important as it was when they are babies.
As teens develop, they aren't meant to become independent of us, but interdependent with us (and others). We are their base. Some spend a lot of time at our base, others don't spend much, but all securely attached kids rely on that base as a place where that they are safe to be just themselves.
Without secure attachment, teens seek their primary sense of belonging and acceptance from peers. But peers, even if they're wonderful, can't give unconditional acceptance. At this age, the peer group is conditional, expecting each person to conform to social norms. Whether teens are conforming to norms like getting perfect grades or sending naked selfies, those norms can be painful and destructive.
Our loving connection, while it doesn't ensure smooth and conflict-free teen years, does protect our teens. With a secure connection at home, they can talk to us about the pressures, confusions, and struggles without fear of being judged, punished, or (worst of all) rejected by us.
If you, like me, are a parent of teens, take some time to reflect on your connection. Can you, do you, accept them even when you don't like their choices? Do they know that you can listen to them without judging? Do you love them without pressuring them to conform to your beliefs?
Tomorrow, more about how to strengthen connection during the teen years!
Get in Touch With Your Love
Babies, toddlers, children, kids, teens--they all need the same thing that we need.
To feel loved.
To feel seen.
To be understood.
To know that they're accepted, even thought they are imperfect.
They are excruciatingly sensitive.
They feel our worries, hopes, judgments, and agendas, even if they don't talk about it.
They want us to be proud of them, not for what they do but for who they are.
They see themselves through our eyes.
It hurts them when we are critical or too busy.
They love it when we meet them where they are.
They need us.
When you are with your child today, imagine that they are 10 times more vulnerable than you think. Get in touch with your love. Let them see it, feel it, relax into it. Don't make them earn it.
Lots of our tweens and teens suffer with anxiety, depression, stress, emotional disregulation, and a need to somehow be perfect. Why are they so caught up in fear, worry, and how others perceive them? And how can we help? The problem is that they have learned to look outside of themselves for success rather than inside.
The antidote is not to help them be more successful by getting a special coach, tutor, or invitation. It's not to tell them how special they are. It's not for them to be the best at something. What we can do to help our young people is to help cultivate a strong inner presence.
How do we help them know themselves? It's the same loving presence practice that I've been sharing about lately. Beginning when they're babies or as soon as we figure it out, we can show our kids that they don't have to be special or 'good enough' for us to love and accept them. Telling them doesn't help, kids listen to our behavior more than our words.
We do this by accepting them, whether they are gracious or awkward, cool or dorky, smart or struggling, whiny or strong, the MVP or the bench warmer. Of course, we all want to do this, right? But how does it work when your child comes home with a failing grade on a test? Do you sit with them and listen? Let them process their feelings through (those unpleasant) layers of blaming their teacher, classmates, the weather, and even you before they begin to open up and share their fear and sadness and regret? Give them space to have their own feelings about that grade rather than tell them what they need to know and do?
Accepting them as they are right now, warts and all, is essential to the development of their strong inner presence. Just as I've been saying about each stage, accepting does not mean that we rescue our kids from hard times and challenges. When they mess up on a test, we can listen deeply and help them to feel their own feelings. We don't need to call the school and request a retest or extra credit! If we want our kids to be resilient, we need to let them fail or struggle in the circle of our love.
There's not much for us to teach tweens directly, instead the wise parent learns to LISTEN.
Tweens need their loving connection with us more than ever. We can stay close (or develop closeness if it's disappeared) by listening deeply to what they talk about. If your tween seems interested in superficial things and that worries you, remember that there's a lot under the surface! Transform your conversations from passively letting them chatter about Minecraft, fashion, or a band into developing a genuine interest in what they think about those topics.
When we listen and cultivate real connection with their interests, we allow them to lead us into the heart of their lives. They begin to share their beliefs, struggles, and big questions. The key to this is to listen without judgment and stay curious and present. Basically mindfulness, right? So if you aren't yet practicing mindfulness, do it! It will definitely help you to parent your tween.
The second aspect, as with every age, is to be a leader, providing firm and clear boundaries. A leader doesn't get into power struggles and doesn't lecture. If you are battling with your tween, step back and find a more dignified stance. Discern which issues are the very most important and which you can have an influence on. Let go of things that do not fall into both of those categories! You aren't (and shouldn't be) in charge of who their friends are, what they want to do with their lives, or which sports they want to play.
Tweens want and need our love, our connection, and our guidance. They also want and need our respect!
Friends, I'm taking a little break from posting about parenting to offer a plug for my upcoming classes. If you have been reading this blog and sometimes wish you could ask questions or get more personal support, you can!
I've got a free mindfulness for parents class this Wednesday at 9:30 am which will be followed by a 6-week series for anyone interested. Also coming, Mindfulness for Adults on Sundays, Mindfulness for Teens on Sundays, and a class for Parenting Your Anxious Child on Thursday evenings.
Also available--individual and family sessions focused on mindfulness, parenting skills, connection-building, limits, anxiety, emotional regulation, and whatever is going on with you as an individual or parent. I meet with people in my Media office on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and sometimes Sunday, and offer phone support for local and non-local folks as well.
Things really can get easier! Visit gloriashepard.com for more information.
Yesterday, writing about this practice of loving presence for middle childhood kids, I mentioned that it can be an age where issues show up. The truth is, no matter when or how we start parenting consciously, we're going to find some issues. They may come from our own childhood, from earlier stages with our children, from our partner, from culture and society, from our schooling.
If you read an earlier post about parenting newborns or toddlers and noticed things you wish you had done, or if you are seeing signs of disconnection in your tween, teen, or young adult and don't know what to do, don't worry. Start where you and your child are now.
The very behaviors or habits that worry us about our kids are the invitation to parent! Today, notice what's happening with your child with curiosity. What are they inviting in you? What are they calling forth? Don't react out of your beliefs about what they 'should' be doing, explore what they may need. Ask yourself, 'How can I be loving right now, nurturing my child's true self? How can I stay clear and steady?'
Loving your Kid
If you've been reading this blog for the last week, you know that I've been writing a lot about loving presence. Our kids need it. We need it. And we want to give it! But it can be confusing to know how to hold our kids in loving presence in real life when they aren't doing what we think they should. So I've been breaking it down by ages and stages, making suggestions about how to work with real situations with your kids.
Today I'm writing about middle childhood. When kids get to this stage (sort of 8-11 years), a lot changes. They often get more awkward and less 'cute.' Parents often get impatient with ongoing issues. We may find ourselves saying things like, "If I've told you once, I've told you a million times. . . " We may complain about our child's bad habits or challenging personality.
Holding loving presence at this age requires us to continue to have a strong structure, be a leader, and stay present with their emotions, steps that we can start at earlier ages. If some of those things aren't in place, their absence will show up pretty strongly by this middle childhood years. This doesn't mean that we've failed, it just shows us where our kids need us.
So if you've got a child at this stage, it's time to develop positive practices.
Notice positive things about your child each day. Don't do this to change them, don't even tell them about it, just take a few minutes every single day to write 3 wonderful things that you notice about your child. On a bad day you may be writing, "He didn't break any dishes today, he didn't complain about dinner, and he didn't hit his sister." As you practice, you will find yourself noticing more subtle and beautiful things, "He spent 20 minutes just watching a bug, he makes the most amazing Lego creations, and he held the door for me (without being asked) when I was carrying groceries."
Share an interest with your child, not by recruiting them to do something you love but by genuinely adopting an interest in something they love. Learn to enjoy watching or playing their favorite sport, go on nature hikes, read the book they are enthusiastically telling you about, watch the youtube videos they want to show you, laugh at their jokes, try their crazy sandwich ideas. This gives you the chance to follow their lead and to let them know how cool you think they are.
And listen. Make it a practice to listen deeply when they talk to you rather than interrupting to teach or fix or explain. Kids at this age need so badly to feel seen as they are! They need to know that they are important to us. They need to feel worthy and special!
You will still need boundaries and structure, you will sometimes disappoint them and say 'no.' But counter those challenging parts of your relationship by also cultivating connection, love, shared interest, and a sense of appreciation for their unique nature.
A wise parent meets children where they are, and during early childhood they are in their bodies exploring the physical world, in their imaginations and creativity, and deeply connected with parents and other loving adults.
As children grow, it becomes increasingly important that we create a structure that supports their true needs. They do not look to us to meet every physical need as they wean and get interested in the outside world, but they thrive when we hold them in a healthy environment. To do this, we can (and must) choose what to make available to our kids.
For example, we can serve healthy foods and trust their choices within that range. It isn't helpful to cater to their wants or to stock the kitchen with foods you don't think are good for them. There will be times that this upsets your child, right? Some may complain, insist, demand that they want chicken nuggets every day or plain pasta at every dinner. That's okay, kids are bound to push our limits! If you are providing a healthy range of foods, stay firm and clear, letting them find their own way within what you offer. There's no need to take their complaints personally, react, punish, convince, or please them, your job is really to love and nurture them.
Consider electronics, classes, social events, chores, and family obligations in this same way. Get very clear about what you think is good and healthy for your child, and then stick with it, even if and when they are frustrated. And most importantly, stick with it in a loving way. Have compassion for their hard emotions even as you stay firm. Remember that you are on their side! Your loving 'no' may offer them the chance they need to release difficult emotions.
As newborns grow into more mobile babies and then toddlers, everything and nothing changes. They watch us so closely and want to try everything, but of course they can't safely do all that we do. This is the stage when 'no' becomes a big word, first from us, then from them. Our role is still to be in loving presence with them and this is the time to establish loving leadership.
Leadership with a baby or toddler looks like guiding them toward safe and wise experiences rather than trying to control, force, or punish them.
So when a toddler grabs something that isn't safe for them, we may gently put our hands on theirs, holding them and the object, look softly at them until they look right back at us, and say "This is not safe," or "Not for you." We don't need to scold or yell, just teach. They may let go easily or not. When they clutch the object, we can hold them and it firmly and invite, "Can you let go now? This is not for you." Rather than grab and pull, which invites a pulling contest, we can move slowly, holding the object safely and giving a firm, clear, and loving form of 'No.' Sometimes we may need to remove the object, but we can do it gently.
They will often want to do things that are possible (but likely to slow us down), and this is a great time to teach, guide, and support. Their drive to learn, imitate, and master new things is so important! We are wise to support and guide it rather than fight it.
When a child cries, yells, or even seems worried or frightened by a limit we set or the way we help, we can just listen and allow those feelings. We can hold them, offering reassuring sounds and simple words ("That feels hard, huh?"). There's no need to distract them from their feelings or to fix the situation to change their feelings.
During this process, we don't need to say much. If you find yourself explaining, pleading, scolding, or threatening, step back. Speak in the spirit of being with our child rather than against them, clear inwardly that our purpose is to help them. We affirm our love, leadership, and presence with each exchange, and deepen our connection with our child.
Babies and Loving Presence
Even little babies have big feelings! And parenting a newborn, or being pregnant or in an adoption process, is bound to bring up your big feelings.
This week I'm going to write about parenting with loving presence at different ages and stages.
Being a conscious parent at the very beginning simply means being aware of your feelings, thoughts, and sensations as you care for your baby or move though your pregnancy or adoption, and witnessing them. How do you feel as you get ready for this baby? How do you feel as things come up with the baby, maybe as you're changing a dirty diaper, walking the baby when you're tired, wondering about a rash, comforting them when they cry? How do you feel about yourself and your partner (or lack of a partner) and community? Can you feel your fears and happiness, frustrations and sadness? Is there a story in your head about what should be happening for them, within you, in your family?
This awareness helps you to take care of your feelings and thoughts without reacting to them or impulsively acting on them.
Parenting consciously also means being present for your baby's feelings just as they are without trying to fix them. Of course we want our babies to be comfortable and happy, but they will also sometimes be uncomfortable and sad. Our job is not to fix their feelings, but to love them while they have feelings. When your baby is sad or scared, you can be present with them, holding and loving them, accepting that feeling. When they want to nurse and you can't pick them up quickly (which will happen at some point), be present with their anger or sadness. When they are sick or hurt, you will naturally do all you can do to help them, but also practice acceptance of this difficult part of the human condition, discomfort. Learn to be calm and loving even in the face of their emotions.
And when you find yourself worried or frantic to help or fix things, angry or sad, notice those feelings, care for them, and allow them to pass like clouds in the sky.
Just as I wrote in Love Wisely and With Understanding, it's not enough to love kids, we also have to communicate that love in ways they can feel and understand. Lots of us are still carrying around the feeling of not being seen, loved, and understood, and many, many children are carrying those feelings.
To parent well is to love well, which mean to love and accept our children as they are even though they are imperfect.
Are there ways that it's hard to do that, ways that you hold your child at a distance when they aren't perfect? Let's add on to yesterday's practice of greeting them warmly. Imagine loving them with no attachment to their good behavior. Loving just because they are, not because they do anything.
Let's imagine greeting every choice they make with love. Love is not necessarily permission or a specific action--you may lovingly take the stick out of their hand before they crash into the dog with it, reminding them that it's not safe.
You may lovingly pick them up when they're hurt and just hold them before getting the first aid kit.
You may answer their urgent text for a last-minute ride lovingly, even if you can't give them the ride.
You can listen to their fears and worries lovingly, not trying to rush them past them (especially as many of our kids are about to start a new school year and may be nervous).
A Warm Greeting
Yesterday's post, Love Wisely and With Understanding is about the pain, worry, and hurt that I see in kids (and former kids) when they think about themselves and their relationship with their parents. The pain is there even though their parents probably really loved them.
Most of us don't think our kids feel this way, we believe that they know how much we love them, and they probably do. But most kids need to feel MORE loved, seen, understood, and appreciated than they do.
So how do we do it? Here's a first step. Starting today, no matter what your relationship with your child (newborn or fully grown) has been, greet them in a loving way. When you see them next, don't remind them of a chore or fix their collar. Don't frown or scold. Don't even praise something they have done!
Connect with them. You can smile, reach out your arms for a hug, and tell them how glad you are to see them. Just let yourself as a being slow down and smile at their sweet self. Start where it makes sense, don't force a hug if they don't want one, just meet them where they are and greet them in a connecting way.
Make it a new habit to greet each child (even if they're tweens, teens, or even adults!) with a smile and a connection every single time you see them. It doesn't take much time. Please, let me know what happens when you do this today!
I work with parents because I listen to kids. Nearly every day I sit with young people, children, teens, teens, and young adults, and they tell me about their trauma. They don't usually tell me on purpose, complaining about their parents. Instead, they tell me indirectly.
They tell me how important it is to do the right thing, how ashamed they are of their mistakes and imperfections. They tell me in parent-words about their anxiety and how it would be good if they could just relax. Older ones tell me about what bad kids they were, how they used to be angry and temperamental, how they inconvenienced their parents, how they didn't listen.
They have absorbed so completely a parental perceptions and believe there's something wrong with them.
And the true tragedy is that each of their parents loves them intensely, but these children, teens, young adults, and grown up children don't feel it. Whether I'm talking to a child or tween, a teen or young adult, a young parent or someone whose kids are grown, I hear the imprint of conditional love, of feeling unworthy. And yet our parents loved us, probably in ways we can't even imagine. So what's the problem? If our parents loved and love us, why are we suffering?
It's because even the most loving parent may not know how to make people feel loved. We are so unskillful, not because we don't love enough but because we don't understand each other enough. And this can change! That's why I write every day. It's why I teach these classes on mindfulness and parenting. It's why I meet with kids and adults and parents and families each day. Because we can understand each other better. We can help our kids to feel loved and secure today, right now. We don't need more money or even more time. We don't have to be perfect. We don't have to give our children everything they want. We just have to love wisely and with understanding.
More on this all week!
Practicing mindfulness is the antidote to so much that makes us suffer. Things are difficult for many of us, it's true. Change is in the air, and we're feeling the uncertainty in the world. Kids who are going back to school aren't sure of their place in the new classrooms and year. We are all unsure of what will happen with this strange election cycle.
If you, like me, are unsettled by the uncertainty and difficulty in the world, join me in being mindful of your body. Begin just sitting as you are and get very still. Feel the stillness spread through your entire body until not a muscle is moving on purpose. Notice the movement that does still happen, the gentle movement of your breath, perhaps the beating of your heart. That's all, let that be the center of your world for a bit.
And then notice your feet. Feel them. Feel what they are touching--the floor or your socks or each other. Stay with that sensation for a minute. And then begin to notice the inside of your feet, can you feel it? With each breath, imagine that you are breathing into those feet, aware of them and feeling whatever they feel on the inside. Just be those feet for a bit.
Then move your awareness into your legs, noticing how they feel. Notice the places where your legs touch something. And then breathe in, feeling the inner sensations of your legs, Be aware of these legs, just resting here and feeling what they feel.
After a few minutes, bring your awareness to your hips, noticing the sensation of pressure from sitting and any other surface sensations. Notice internal sensations--whatever you feel in your muscles and tendons, the pressure or tightness or heaviness. Breathe into it all for a bit.
Then notice your belly. Is it moving when you breathe? Just be aware of that. Can you feel anything on the surface--your shirt or the warmth of your skin? Is your belly tight or relaxed? Feel whatever it feels like, no need to change or control anything, just be aware of what you actually feel right now.
Your chest, rising and falling with each breath. Aware of the sensations, open to your chest exactly as it is. Surrendering to this actual moment in your body.
And feeling your shoulders and arms, starting with whatever they are touching--your sides, the back of the chair you are sitting on, the air. Feel the inside of your shoulders and arms, just breathing into them.
Notice your neck and throat. Feeling your skin and the surface sensations. Feeling your throat and the internal sensations. Just feeling it for now.
And your face and head. Breathing in, aware of the breath moving through your nose and mouth. Feeling your jaw, your cheeks, your eyes and the muscles around your eyes. Aware of how your face feels. And noticing your whole head.
Continuing to breathe, let yourself notice your whole body. Feel pressure where you are in contact with your chair or cushion. Open to your body as it is right now, accepting its sensations just as they are. Just breathe for a bit, aware of your whole body. Imagine just appreciating this body for a bit, breathing in aware of this body, breathing out gratitude for this body.
When you're ready, allow your body to stretch a bit and notice how you feel. Come back to regular attention and go on with your day.
Lots of the time, when a child is upset, it's possible to be with them and allow them to be upset without doing anything. We are so conditioned to do something--to explain, fix, teach, scold, or change our child's experience, but those things rarely work well. And just being present and loving can work amazingly well! It allows a child to feel upset and loved at the same time, which is really healing.
There are times when it's not enough to 'be there' when our kids are upset. If your toddler is throwing shoes, they need you to step in and stop them. Not by lecturing or threatening or bargaining, but just by holding their hands steady and saying something simple like "Not safe." We can stay near them lovingly and stop them from hurting anyone with their shoes.
If your children are fighting with and hurting each other, it's not enough to sit nearby and love them. Love them in a protective way by holding them each with one arm or sitting between them. You can say firmly, "I see how angry you both are. Let me keep you safe."
This is the same practice that I wrote about in yesterday's post, 'To 'Be There' Rather Than Separate or Teach or Fix,' we're just doing it a little more actively. Holding a safe and loving space for our children is possible even in very intense circumstances. We can learn to keep kids safe at the same time that we are loving and accepting. Stopping hurtful behavior can be done in a loving way.
I'm a person on a messy journey--healing, learning, discovering and rediscovering. Sharing, writing, talking, and teaching help me to understand myself and the world more clearly. I hope it can help make your journey a easier, too.