This post is written as part of the Round Table Discussions with Natural Parent Network volunteers. In an effort to discuss, support, and promote a kinder, more gentle world, we are taking an in depth view of various books. Our current book is Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life by Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. We hope you will join us with an open mind and a desire for change and growth.
When it comes to our children, we always want to view them as the individual people they are. They have their unique strengths and weaknesses, talents and interests. We want to, and they want us to, value and appreciate them for their individuality and selves. However, we aren’t just raising individuals. We are raising a family, too, and that changes how we approach things a bit.
Certainly, we want to acknowledge and celebrate everyone for who they are, but as a family, we realize that we are also a team. What does that mean?
- Teams, and families, play on the strengths of individuals. No one is great at everything. They recognize where individual members excel and use that to strengthen the group. These complementary skills allow families to work more cohesively. However, teams also realize that you are only as strong as your weakest link, so teams encourage all members to grow and challenge themselves. Those individuals who need some help in areas learn from the modelling of those better in specific areas. As parents, this is where we can excel, modelling the behaviors we want our children to exhibit. We can also remind everyone that we can learn from even the youngest members of our family.
- Families, just as teams, work together for a common goal. We are in this life together, here to help one another. Pitting family members against each other doesn’t further the continuation of our goals: survival, peace, growth, and love. Families help each other out. When we see someone struggling, we offer help.
- Teams share authority and responsibility for self-management. This can be difficult for many parents, who were likely raised in an authoritarian environment where whatever the parents said was law. That isn’t how peaceful families work, though. If parents are always controlling their children, the children will never learn how to self control. Parents have to give up the idea that their word is law and embrace the team mentality of working together. Sometimes your kids will even surprise you with better solutions than you have.
- Teams are accountable for the overall collective performance of the group, i.e. families are in it together. In a team, it isn’t just one person who fails. The entire group does. Or conversely, the entire group wins. Teams have to help each other out. It takes commitment to each other and caring for your family members to make peaceful family life happen.
A family is more than just a group of people who live in the same house. When a family is loving and supportive, working together to help one another out, there is a synergy that raises what family means to another level, one we can aspire to and celebrate, just as we celebrate the individual members in our family.