Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline: The 7 Basic Skills for Turning Conflict into Cooperation
is life changing. Not only for me and how I view my own upbringing, but life changing for my kids now and in the future. This book has changed the way I parent, improved how I interact with my kids, and made me extremely aware of the method of interaction that does not foster love and connection in a family.
Even before I had kids, I wanted to parent differently than I was parented. Sometimes I knew exactly what I wanted to do differently, but sometimes it was just the overall result I didn’t like, but I couldn’t figure out how to make change and not parent like my parents. Don’t get me wrong: my parents are amazing people and did the best they knew how. I just wanted to find a better, more connected way. Becky Bailey not only discusses what to do, she explains why the way we were parented was counter productive and sometimes harmful. She even goes into the details of how the way siblings are parented can negatively effect their relationship towards each other as adults.
Have you heard this dialogue between parent and child before?: A mother and child are leaving a store and the child is emotional about leaving. The child cries and makes her body limp on the floor. Her mother struggles to get her to leave. The child notices some toys near the door and snaps out of her tantrum to ask her mother if she can buy a toy. The mother laughs: “Do you really think I am going to buy you something after the way you have been acting? Come on, you are smarter than that.” The child looks at the floor and sniffs. She doesn’t know what to say because the rhetorical question did nothing to help the situation, rather it served to humiliate the child and make her feel stupid. The book is full of these kind of examples. Becky shows you a better way and explains in each chapter how to connect and love your children instead of “managing” them and “getting them to do what you want”. In this situation, Becky’s suggestion is that the mother instead acknowledges her daughters’s emotions about leaving the store and finds something for the child to look forward to or help with to facilitate their departure. Instead of mocking the child’s emotions and asking her to stuff those emotions, as parents we can help children learn that their emotions are valid, worthy of reflection. They are not wrong to feel the way they feel, rather we can help them feel those emotions and construct ways for them to make the right choices of their own volition.
Becky helps us to understand children need to disobey to solidify the rules. Disobedience is their way of scientifically assessing what the boundaries really are. And she stresses that disobedience is not disrespect, although most adults react as if it were disrespect. As adults we often make the mistake of assuming children know all the rules after hearing it once and that they know all the social graces of an adult world. Another large message of the book is about learning to connect with others instead of trying to feel important or special. The way we were raised influences whether we, as adults, seek the approval of others for self validation or whether we look internally to do good and appreciate our accomplishments. Becky discusses how to recognize this in yourself as a parent, how to work on this aspect of ourselves and finally how to model the new positive self views for your children.
If I could only recommend one parenting book to someone, this one wins the ticket, hands down. Truly, this book has made ours a more connected, loving, and nurturing family.