Acceptance of your child is the single most important factor in insuring your child’s self-confidence and strength of will to resist the negative influences we spend so much time worrying about. Acceptance is often a hard concept for parents to get because it sounds as if we’re supposed to accept everything our child does—and that’s just not good parenting.
It’s easiest to think about acceptance through your own experience. Did you feel accepted for who you are or did you think that your parents would love you more or be prouder of you if you were different, more like your brother, got better grades, excelled at sports—just simply someone else? Did you feel accepted or approved of only when you behaved a certain way, felt a certain way? And did feelings of rejection (unintended on your parent’s part yet perceived on your part) cause you to pull back or try to be different? You probably can’t answer this because these changes are very subtle and slow to adapt.
“People stop showing the parts of themselves that have been rejected, trying to tuck away these traits in order to survive,” says Nancy Rose in her new book, Raise the Child You’ve Got—Not the One You Want. Nancy explains that, “As parents, we create stories about our children….The story comes out of our perception of who our child is, based on reality, but heavily influenced by our beliefs about ourselves and the world. The story we’re creating then becomes our reality, and our perspective narrows.”
In this lovely, practical, and clearly written parent’s guide to unconditional acceptance, Nancy leads us from a place of understanding how easily we create that narrow perspective of our child and then gently guides us on a journey to alter that perspective. With detailed information and exercises on temperament to understand “the core self”, she helps us get to connection while still setting limits on behavior.
That journey is a mindset shift in seeing undesirable behavior as a mistake rather than a forecast. It is knowing that the child is whole just the way he is. It is understanding that the child wants to please, wants to be successful, and when he’s not, it’s due to obstacles in his way that, in many cases, parents can remove through connection. “The lovely paradox,” Nancy says, “is that, by accepting ‘what is,’ we are in the best position to channel ‘what is’ in a positive direction.”
This freeing new perspective of our children allows them to discover themselves, to own their feelings, take responsibility for their actions and to feel strongly connected to the most important people in their lives—you. As Nancy along with abundant research concludes, “Having a close connected relationship with a caring adult, one who listens to the child’s feelings, is the single strongest indicator that an adolescent will reach adulthood without experiencing teen pregnancy or violence, without becoming addicted to drugs or tobacco, and without dropping out of high school.”
Raise the Child You’ve Got gives you tools for leading your child with acceptance and being that strong authority in your child’s life that influences by connection rather than control. As she says, “A parent who accepts but does not lead can create a situation where the child takes advantage of rules, grows up without learning respect, and can ultimately enter the adult world unprepared.”
Nancy and I believe in each other’s work so much that we are making a dual offer. You can win a copy of Nancy’s book, Raise the Child You’ve Got, by simply commenting below. Tell us what acceptance means to you—whether or not you feel able to accomplish it. Sunday night June 15th I will choose a comment using a random generator tool. I will give your email address to Nancy and she will send you an autographed book. At the same time and in the same way, Nancy will be giving away a copy of my book, When Your Kids Push Your Buttons, so you can comment on her blog for a chance to win my book. Buttons delves into the layers in the parent where unacceptance may have its roots, which make it difficult to fully accept the child we have now. We both agree that the combination of our work offers a parent a full in-depth path to unconditionally accepting our children.
Nancy’s contact info:
Congratulations to Cecelia Sherwin! She is our winner of Nancy Rose’s book.
I do hope the rest of you will check out her book and buy it if you felt inspired.