Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

I’m 50

December 30, 2018

I turned FIFTY years old 3 days ago on Dec 27, 2018.
When I held the birthday card from my wife and daughter in my hand, the big “50” jumped out at me.

I remembered being 19 or 20 and picking up a 50th b-day card and thinking that was so old. I couldn’t imagine myself there.

Most of the adults I knew seemed to be missing something. I remember that feeling very clearly. I was aware of this difference from very young. I think most kids are. I didn’t have a name for it, but I knew I didn’t want to lose it.

Partly because it seemed like a big loss to me. Every time an adult would assert authority of any kind I would see the loss in them. They thought they were above me.

On the one hand I ended up internalizing this mindset. Surrounded by it in my formative years I took it on as my own. That is why I have so many insecurities. Why it’s so hard for me to believe people like me. Even my closest of friends have to remind me that they like me and love me (Thank you for your patience!).

At the same time there was a part of me that saw the false hierarchical separation of value and worth that authority creates.

The thing about believing one is above others is that there will always be someone above you.

You are destined to be less than. So much of life is compensating for this “less than/greater than” mindset.

My desire to not lose this thing that I saw the adults had lost was also fueled by my thoughts of parenting. I didn’t want my kids to look at me and see that separation.

I wanted them to feel me with them. To know that I know. Or more accurately to know that I know that they know. This seemed so important to me, to maintain that feeling of deep equality with children. It has been one of the principle areas of my personal development efforts.

It is also a central theme in my parenting philosophy and practice. When I’m with kids I hold no authority over them. It is an attitude that creates trust very quickly.

When I was 20 and held that card in my hand I realized I didn’t want to inhabit the authority mindset that seemed inherent to being 50. I was determined not to let it get me!

My mother had a stroke last week and I’ve been feeling her mortality more clearly since. It’s pushing me.

I was going to say “It’s pushing me to…” but then so many things came to mind that I’m being pushed on, I realized it’s just pushing me.

Push.

My 75 year old mom, Shivani Patel has been teaching weekly self-empowerment workshops in a men’s prison for the past 6 years. In that time her 6 week program has become the most popular and sought after course in the institution. There is always a waiting list to take her course.

The institution psychologists and counselors recommend her workshops. Some even mandate the residents in their units to take the course.

They have never audited her course. They are responding purely to the effect they see when the residents complete it.

They leave there wanting a better life for themselves. They are self-motivated to find what is meaningful to them and pursue it. They believe in their own potential and are propelled by it.

Often when they walk in to the room they are skeptical. They slump down in their chairs with arms crossed or grabbing their crotch. Staring at my sweet little mother in silent challenge. Sometimes not so silent.

Almost without fail, after the first 20 minutes of listening to her talk, they are all sitting straight, leaning forward, engaged and interested.

By the end of 2 hours they’re in love. After the 6 weeks are over they would do anything for her. Many of these guys have been in and out of prisons for years. They have been through a lot of courses. They always say they’ve never experienced anything like her.

My nickname for my mom is “Little body, Big Spirit!” When she sits in front of those men she holds no authority over them. She is one with them and they feel it. She sees through their layers to the light within.

My mother has more trauma in her life than pretty much anyone I know. She’s quite weak right now due to the stroke so I’m staying over tonight to care for her. We just spent about 90 minutes talking and all these memories from her past came up.

She told me story after story. Things I’d never heard before. We were both in sort of a story telling trance.

She has witnessed and experienced more pain than I can conceive. Somehow she has avoided getting jaded. I don’t know how she did it. Even with her painful past she sees the men in front of her as whole and good, fully worthy of love, no matter what they’ve done.

They feel it and it awakens something in them.

I go in as a guest speaker on week four. I see these guys fumbling over themselves to be respectful to Shivani, to demonstrate their gratitude, to show their love.

It’s like they’ve never been seen before. And some of them argue with her. They assure her that they really are bad. She refuses to entertain it. She empathizes with them for feeling so, but her mindset doesn’t waver.

My mother teaches me about love through her example. Growing up she parented me often in a traditional manner. Yet she kept fighting it. She kept learning and growing. Even to this day she’s learning about life and about herself.

One story she told me was when she was recently in the hospital (she’s been in the hospital a lot in 2018), one nurse was thanking her for being so nice (cause that’s my mom!).

The nurse told her she’s so tired of being treated badly by people that she just shuts off. No matter how much care and empathy she gives, some people are just mean to her.

Now she starts out nice and if she’s not treated well she just does her job, but doesn’t connect.

My mom said she understood. It’s hard to be treated that way. It hurts the heart.

She then told her about her volunteer work:

“I do these prison workshops. 6 years every week. I’ve worked with hundreds of prisoners, as well as the security guards and staff… and in all that time I’ve never met a bad person.”

She says it, and she means it. This is the foundation of her course. It is what creates such a dramatic effect on the prisoners. The power of unconditional love and acceptance.

She does not tell them that they are bad. She does not tell them that they’re wrong. She doesn’t make them feel like they’re broken and they need to be fixed.

She sees them whole.
She also sees the layers of pain and fear covering their wholeness.

Seeing both she can point out the layers by pointing TO their wholeness. This is so different from pointing to the layers themselves.

From this place they feel safe and are willing to hear her, to try what she teaches and to be challenged by her. Even when she challenges them they feel loved for it.

The conscious parenting philosophy I teach is the exact same one she operates from in prison. We share the same mindset and philosophy. We discuss it every day.

If the non-punitive, non-wrongness, non-coercive, non-authoritative, collaborative, process focused, relationship focused, equal power-sharing and learning partner mindset works so well with prisoners that it’s the most recommended workshop by clinical professionals – it’s reasonable to think that it would likely be effective with children.

My mom often says that the Conscious Parenting principles I share will hopefully one day make her program obsolete.

When my daughter was born in 1997, just over 21 years ago, everyone I knew was parenting authoritatively. I had no models to follow. Even every family on TV parented from a hierarchical power structure.

I wanted no part of it.

From the beginning I worked hard to treat my daughter as an equal. I saw her wisdom as equal to mine. I always felt she had so much to teach me.

She truly has been my teacher. I learned many profound lessons from her when she was a child. I learned play, curiosity, exploration and finding wonder and joy in the simplest of things.

I wanted her to feel seen like I rarely did as a child. I wanted to meet her where she was. Kids live in their own universes. So often parents try to drag, coerce or convince kids to operate from the adult universe. I wanted to be in her universe. I knew in order to do that I had to really open my heart to my child like energy.

This is one of the greatest gifts I have received as a parent. It stays with me to this day.

Just this afternoon as I entered the lobby of my mom’s building there were three kids with their dad by the elevators. They were yelling and laughing.

They were trying to guess which elevator would open. Without a moments hesitation I jumped in with them and proclaimed that I thought it would be the middle one. The youngest kid was with me and she yelled “YA! the middle one!”

I was so excited to be in on the game that the kids accepted me as one of their own. We waited in anticipation and the older brother’s elevator on the right won. The rest of us were groaning and moaning and laughing as we piled into the elevator.

The young sister had a big happy face ball. She said she won it. She bounced it and I kicked it back to her. It went all over the elevator and everyone laughed again.

They got off at the third floor all saying “bye bye bye!” The dad had such a smile on his face as he exited the elevator. He was a bit confused, but in a connected happy way.

The whole interaction from beginning to end was probably not 5 minutes, but it was so full of joy and play. At that moment I felt grateful to my kid for that gift and I felt quite happy to be 50 and be me.

When I think about 20 year old Vivek holding that birthday card, he didn’t want to get old because he so wanted to believe in the Magic of Play and Love. As I settle into my 50th year I can confidently tell him that both are real and worth chasing!

Happy birthday to me!
Thank you for reading ❤

If you would like to learn more about the Conscious Parenting philosophy I share please like my facebook page www.facebook.com/meaningfulideas

Or my youtube channel where I have lot of helpful parenting videos.

www.youtube.com/meaningfulideas

Love,

Thanks for not forcing me to go to school

September 21, 2018

My 21 year old daughter is watching Bob’s burgers on TV. It’s an adult animated show.

One of the characters was pretending to be sick so they could school.

She paused the show and turned to me to say:

“Dad, I’m glad you never forced me to go to school.”

I said, “Me too kiddo.”

She told me about the show and said she was thinking about it and wanted to express her gratitude.

From the beginning we let our daughter choose how she wanted to do school. We took her to visit a public school, an alternative school and we talked about what homeschooling might be like. All the way along she chose to go to public school and we honoured her choice.

We had a standing principle that she could stay home from school anytime she wanted without having to give us a reason. She never had to do any homework she didn’t want to do, she never had to study for or take any tests she didn’t want. She never had to achieve any particular grade for us to be more proud or accepting of her.

We did explore together what her personal goals were and made plans of action to achieve them.

We did all her projects together, studied for all of her tests together and basically school was a family affair.

Sometimes I wonder what her memories are and today I got a little glimpse. It’s gratifying to know that at 21 she’s grateful for the freedom and respect that she was shown in her younger years.

A common question I receive is “Did she ever take advantage of it.” I have two responses.

First of all: No.
She used it when she really needed it. Right from the beginning. She never had to manipulate so her requests were always from sincere need.

Secondly: In a way the phrase “Take advantage” has no real meaning in our relationship. She could only take advantage if I had an expectation of how she should use that freedom.

The thing is, if I have that expectation, it’s not true freedom to begin with. My focus is on developing her relationship with herself. It’s not about how often she goes to school or what grades she gets.

According to the school board rules, when she turned 14 she was allowed to leave school grounds if she had a note from a parent.

The day she turned 14 I walked into the office with a letter saying that my daughter could leave school at any time for any reason and I didn’t have to be notified. I specified that she was to be given no consequence for not attending class. I also acknowledged that she was responsible for her performance.

Of course if she ever wanted to skip she would always text me and tell me. Hey dad I’m skipping and going to get a slice of pizza with some friends. Honestly could anything make me happier?

Because of this deep respect for her freedom she understands consent in a profound way. She knows how precious it is and feels grateful for the efforts my partner and I made to honour hers from the beginning.

It’s hard to go against the grain of society. Little moments like we shared today remind me that’s it’s all been worth it.

Biting Is Awesome

April 30, 2017

No Biting Please

The other day a friend of mine and I were playing with a lovely and energetic 2 year old.

At one point he was climbing all over my friend and having a great time. Suddenly he bit the guy right on the chest… Ouch!

My friend said “no biting please” in a very calm and gentle tone.

Biting is AWESOME!

Of course knowing what I know I realized that was not going to stop him from biting, but was actually going to make him want to do it more!

So immediately jumped in and said, in typical Vivek fashion…

“Biting is AWESOME!”

They both stopped for a moment and just looked at me.

Validate the Impulse – Redirect the Behaviour

I grabbed a pillow from the couch and bit it, shaking my head and growling like a dog.

The kid started laughing immediately and I gave him the pillow to bite as well. He copied me growling and shaking his head.

Then I joined him and the two of us had the same pillow and were biting the corners like dogs fighting over a piece of meat!

It was quite dramatic and hilarious.

Offer a Suggestion Once Connection is Established

At some point I said to him that biting things is awesome, it feels good. Biting people isn’t so great because it could hurt them. But there are so many things we can bite and it’s so much fun.

After a minute of this he went back to climbing on my friend.

I could see the urge to bite suddenly come upon him and he paused… He looked at me.. he grabbed a pillow and brought it to me to bite which I did so vigorously of course!

Then he grabbed it and started biting it as well.

This happened four more times over the next five or six minutes.

A 2 year old Learns Self-Regulation

Every time he went to bite my friend he remembered how much energy I gave him for his biting and how much fun we were having doing it.
I Was Myself quite amazed at how quickly and how well he took to this.

Even though I teach it, it still seems so wonderful to me how effective it is when we go with our children’s direction and what a difference it makes.

Going With

It can be challenging, but if you can try “going with” your kids impulses and directions rather than correcting them, especially in the most difficult moments, with the most difficult behaviors, you might find that things can shift in unexpected ways.

A New Way of Relating

The hard part about this is of course it goes against so much of what we’ve learned and experienced over our lifetime. We are taught that if we don’t maintain control our children will control us.

So many of our systems are built this way, the education system, our legal system, our correctional system… it’s not surprised that the family system is also modeled this way.

If we can however change our way of thinking from one of control and competition to a mindset of cooperation, collaboration and connection then we can teach our kids whole new way of relating.

This has multiple benefits of increasing the trust our kids feel with us, increasing their ability to think for themselves and also creates a much deeper and closer relationship with them.

A Response to the Statement: “I Was Spanked and I Turned Out Fine.”

October 8, 2016

a-response-to-i-was-spanked

A Response to the statement “I was spanked and I turned out fine.”

In Conscious Parenting we are generally aiming for more than fine.
As an adult I am also fine, in fact I’m awesome!

And

I’m deeply wounded inside.
I have anger and intimacy issues.
I have belonging and self-esteem issues.

These issues keep me from reaching my potential.
They keep me from the kind of expression I yearn for in my life.
They limit the depth of the intimacy and connection I can have in my relationships.

I do not know a single adult that doesn’t have some of these issues
I know many that are in denial about them,
but they wear their wounds like a banner for all to see!

I prefer to do what I can to minimize those effects in my daughter.
This is why I choose the most gentle, connected and conscious path I am able.

I am not perfect.
I make mistakes every day.
I am often not gentle, not conscious and less connected than I’d prefer.
The results of my own wounds.

This is why I analyze my interactions with my daughter daily.
I admit my mistakes. I apologize and try and learn from them.

We ALL make mistakes and when we question them and learn from them we are doing the best we can by our kids.

I also engage in vigorous self-healing work.
Learning to love myself and accept myself more every day.
Showering Little Vivek with love so he learns how worthy he is.

For that is the best way I know not to pass along the errors of my predecessors.
And ensure that my kiddo grows up to be more than fine!

Discipline and Punishment are Opposites

May 21, 2016
 PhotoGrid_1463861478970
Discipline and Punishment are Opposites
 
Discipline Inspires someone to care about others.
This care is where natural good behaviour arises from.
 
Punishment makes a person afraid of pain.
This feeling inspires a person to think of
how to avoid pain for themselves,
it does not teach them to think of others.
 
Manipulative behaviour is the result of this feeling.
 
Discipline Brings Joy
 
Anytime I’ve disciplined my kid it makes her happier,
it makes her feel more loved.
She feels my unconditional love
and my total support of her
AND she learns a lesson at the same time.
 
She does not need pain to learn because she trusts me.
She trusts me because I’ve never intentionally caused her pain
(which at its most basic form is what all punishments are)
 
I did not need to frighten her into compliance
because I believed she was a naturally a good person.
Therefore I chose to inspire rather than control.
 
Intentionally Causing Pain is Not Love
 
And often people will respond to these ideas saying
that their kids aren’t frightened of them,
that they’re in fact very close and
have a loving relationship with them.
 
That may well be true, but if you give a consequence like
withdrawing a privilege of some sort,
the only reason that works
(well it doesn’t work, but the reason we think it works)
is because it causes some sort of pain.
 
If it caused joy it wouldn’t be a punishment.
 
If someone who is supposed to LOVE you
Chooses to intentionally cause you PAIN
When it was very much in their power to bring you JOY instead,
Can you ever truly TRUST that person?
 
No.
 
Trust is eroded with every punishment,
every consequence, yelling and criticism.
 
Only consistent and unwavering love and support
can create the solid foundation of self-love
and self-esteem that will carry our kids
through the storms of life.
 

How to Get Kids to Stop Sucking their Thumbs

April 27, 2016

how to get kids to stop sucking their thumbs
A common question I get asked is about
how to get kids to stop sucking their thumbs.
Especially as they grow older
it becomes a concern to parents.

Many kids try and stop, but it’s hard
because it’s a significant source of comfort for them.

As one kid said:
“It feels good when I do it and
I don’t feel good if I don’t do it.”

My tendency is to address things under the surface
so here is how I responded to a parent
who recently asked this question on Facebook:

Watch Out For Shame

One of the most important things in situations like this
is to be careful about creating shame around the activity.

In our efforts to change a behaviour
we can unintentionally create the idea
that we disapprove of them when they are doing it.

To kids this gives the message that
we love and accept them less at those moments.
This translates into being less worthy of love and acceptance.

Let Him Know He’s Wonderful!

So I would work on letting him know that
while you may be trying to reduce the thumb sucking
you still think he’s wonderful and cute and lovely when he does it.

Let him know that the feelings he’s having
are totally natural and you love him and his feelings.

Let him know that there’s nothing wrong with him
for sucking his thumb and that
even if it takes a bit longer that’s totally okay.

We want him to feel comfortable with his inner self.

This is a very delicate time in
the building of his relationship with himself,
his self-image, his self-esteem and self-confidence.

Everything from his work to his relationships,
friendships, body image, relationship to food, drugs…
really everything is being affected by the messages
you give him during these formative years.

Not Condoning Behaviour

I know it might seem like you’re
condoning something you’d like to stop,
but in fact if he’s not anxious and
feeling judged and judgmental about it
he’s more likely able to listen to his own body
and find his natural rhythm to stop.

I hope this helps.

Peace,
Vivek

Love, Acceptance, Respect, Admiration and Worship

April 18, 2016
Love, Acceptance,  Respect, Admiration and  Worship
My kid is almost 19.
When she was born I could hear
her non-verbal communication so clearly.
It was like she was speaking to me.
 
I knew she was fully conscious and aware.
A perfect soul in a little body.
 
I knew I had to do whatever I could
to give her the love, acceptance,
respect, admiration and
even worship that she deserved.
 
That has always been the core of my parenting philosophy.

Punishment Dehumanizes

April 12, 2016

punishment dehumanizes
Punishment Dehumanizes.

When parents make
the decision to not punish
they deeply humanize their children.

Hanging Out with my Best Friend

My daughter is almost 19.
Today I was sitting with her on the couch, just hanging.
Suddenly I was overcome by the feeling of closeness that exists between us. I felt so grateful.

I realized that one reason for that closeness is
that I’ve never punished her for anything.
I feel very grateful for that.

I said that to her, that I was happy
I’d never punished her and she just said
“me too”.

It’s Never Too Late to Stop Punishing

Even if you’ve been punishing, it’s never too late to stop.
You’ll look back on the day you stop as one of the best moments of your life.
There are lots of resources on how to work with your kids without punishment.

It deepens your relationship with them and
is actually a much more effective way
to create harmony and cooperation in the home.

If you want some more detailed and personal guidance
contact me for a private lesson.
I call them lessons because I share ideas,
it’s you who has the joy and challenge to implement them!

Love,
~Vivek

The Gift of NO

April 9, 2016

the gift of NO
The Gift of NO

Yesterday I asked my daughter
to get something from the car for me.

Her response was:
“No I don’t feel like it.”

Expressing my Gratitude

The next day I went to her in a quiet moment and I said:

“Hey kiddo I want you to know that
when you said no to me yesterday
and in fact every time you say no to me
I consider it a great gift.

It means you are listening to yourself
and honoring yourself.

I love it when you Honour Yourself

As your father, your friend
and your guide
this is the most important thing to me.

This is something I want you to
always pay attention to.

Because it means then that
you know yourself and love yourself.

What better gift could you give your dad?”

I could see that she was moved by this explanation.
This is an attitude I have
held with her from the very beginning.

She is almost 19 and I am still reinforcing this message.

She Feels Safe and Free

Knowing I feel this way allows her to
experience a deep trust and safety with me.
She knows she can be herself
and that I will love and accept her as she is.

This creates such a profound closeness between us.
That relationship is a priceless treasure!

———————-

There is a common question people ask
when I talk about supporting my daughter
in saying NO like this.

It is usually something like:

What about serving others?
What about family responsibility?
Aren’t you teaching her to think of herself first?

This is a natural way of looking at it.
This is not what happens though.

In order to understand it try and ask yourself
why you do good things?

Is it because you’ve been told to do good things by an authority figure?
Is it because you’re afraid what will happen to you if you don’t?

Or do you do good things because
it feels right?
It feels good?

Don’t you agree that, even when it really sucks,
when it hurts and is inconvenient…

doing the right thing just feels right,
and we know we really couldn’t have done anything else.

There are times when the right thing isn’t clear,
but when it is clear it’s best to follow it.

Inner Knowing is the Guide

It is this inner sense of rightness,
of knowing and of honouring
that we help develop in our kids
by honouring their NO as equal to their YES.

For only when we have
acceptance and intimacy with both,
when we fear neither,
can we truly hear what is
the right thing in this moment.

We will know when to serve
and we will also know when we need to
protect ourselves and step away.

We can hear the YES and the NO clearly.

When this skill is foundational
then service, responsibility, caring and generosity
arise naturally from the spirit within.

The Third Option

March 1, 2016

PhotoGrid_1456808388024

The Third Option

Taking care of herself

The other day I was at an event with my friend Tanya.
It was 3 hour silent dance experience.
It’s a pretty intense way to spend an afternoon.

She was telling me later that at  first
she really felt like leaving.
She just didn’t want to be there,
it felt too much for her.

Leaving doesn’t work

Then she imagined what it would be like if she left.
She pictured that she would be going home
and collapsing on her couch.
There she would lay curled up
feeling kind of sorry for herself.

Staying doesn’t work

That didn’t seem so appealing to her
so instead she thought that she should
push through her insecurities and resistance.
Force herself to stay and join in with the group.

This felt inauthentic and equally unpleasant
as collapsing on her couch.

TRAPPED!

She felt trapped between these two choices,
neither one seeming very nourishing or enjoyable
and this was supposed to be a
nourishing and enjoyable dance event!

The third option inspiration

Suddenly it occurred to her that there was a third option.
She could stay in the event and also
honour what she was feeling.

So she stayed in the room with the rest of us,
but also spent a lot of time by herself observing.

By giving this permission to herself
she was able to relax and enjoy herself.
In fact by the end of the three hours
she had had a really good time.

I learn from my friends

This was such a good reminder for me.
Personally I love the concept of the third option.

Tanya demonstrated great skill in
thinking and feeling in a nonlinear way.

The trap of the false dichotomy

I also often find myself trapped between
two unpleasant choices.
This is known as a false dichotomy.

When I feel the tension or stress of
being locked in this way
I try and remember that there is
always a third option.

The third option is creative and non-linear

It can require some creative and
out of the box thinking in order to see it,
but I do believe it is always there.

When I put the effort into finding it
I am always greatly relieved.

It is like finding an alternative way out of the maze.

The third option in parenting

False dichotomies often appear in parenting.
This is one of the most useful places for us
to be aware of the third option.

A great example of where often
we can see only two options is
around the idea of authority.

My way or the highway

There is  the traditional idea that
parents have to be an authority figure with their kids
or the kids will end up ruling the home
and the parent will lose all their power.

The problem with this is the whole idea of power rests on a hierarchical mindset and relationship. When parents
assume a position of authority, kids feel it and the relationship will suffer.

They end up losing a sense of their own power and autonomy.
They do not develop the most powerful connection
to their own independence and decision making abilities.

They also end up learning that their own ideas, feelings and intuitions are less valid and important than those of the authority figures in their lives.

I’m sure you can imagine the long term effects of this kind of self-concept.

This is also damaging for the parents because they set themselves apart from their children and this limits the closeness they can create.

Kids ruling the home

The other option is not any more pleasant.
Having kids that are out of control and
not cooperating in any way with the family unit
will make everyone’s lives miserable.

The parents will feel disempowered and learn to resent their children. I see this all the time in the stressed out parent. It feels like their children are obstacles to their freedom and happiness.

The kids themselves will not learn healthy ways to relate to others in this environment. Whether we have strict or uninvolved parents children and their family systems are going to have a hard time. Fortunately we’re not limited to those two options.

Seeking out the third option

There is a third option available here,
but it is not immediately obvious to see.
It can be even more difficult to implement.

Horizontal Power Sharing

Imagine a family community where
the authority and power was shared equally by all members.

This may seem like a wild and radical idea
when viewed from the traditional parenting mindset.

Changing your perspective

In order to implement this kind of relational dynamic with your children you would have to significantly alter
how you view them and
how you view yourself.

You would end up trusting them in a whole new way.
You would end up not always knowing what to do.
You would also end up not feeling in control much of the time.

We avoid the unknown

The unknown and the unfamiliar can feel quite scary.
In fact they can feel so scary that
the fear can make us run from a new idea.

This is one of the ways we miss the third option.

Unexpected and pleasant results

When you put the effort into creating a home
where power is shared equally
between parents and children
an amazing thing happens.

Power struggles decrease because
we all honour the power in each other.

If a young person feels their power is honoured
they do not have the same desire to fight for it.

Cooperation increases because we all feel the natural desire to
make the other feel good. When your children sense that
you trust and respect them as equals they are much more likely to keep their hearts open to you.

Other parenting false dichotomies

Here are a few other areas where it can seem like there are only two choices. Maybe give a few moments thought to each one and see if you can find the third option.

Engaging in this kind of mental exercise when nothing dramatic is happening can increase your ability to see the third option
when the chaos erupts.
(As it always does!)

1. My child is either obedient or disobedient
2. My child is either polite or talking back to me
3. My child says please and thank you or they have bad manners
4. My child has temper tantrums or they can control their emotions
5. If my child tells the truth I trust them more. If they lie to me I trust them less.

There are likely 100 more examples of this. You will probably notice one the moment you stop reading this blog!

The third option equals greater freedom

In all of our relationships, especially in parenting 
and probably in just about everything we do,
if we can be aware of the third option it will help us to see different paths than the obvious ones set before us. We can be more open, creative and responsive.