The world is evolving already!

It’s so nice to notice it, even though we are far from finished…

At the airport, there are little metal cages that allow us to check if our baggage corresponds with the size limits. I recently noticed that, instead of the usual prohibition to take aboard luggage that wouldn’t fit, many airline companies have now put, next to these limits, a sentence along the lines of: “If your baggage fits in this space, we will gladly take it aboard.”

It’s been a couple of books that I read now that the question of non solved problems with your parents is brought up: for example, sometimes we don’t allow our child a behavior that we don’t allow ourselves to express in front of our parents. Or that we didn’t allow.

And it isn’t new that models are repeated, beaten kids beat…
And yet, it’s a parameter that I don’t really get.
Even before, when I would hear: “I understand my parents better now that I’ve become a mother myself”, well, I understood it but I didn’t feel it.
Today, I still feel that, except of course for a couple educational principles that are part of what I learned, my behavior with my children is completely independent of my relationship with my parents. I don’t have the feeling of having an unresolved frustration, or anything of the type.
And yet, this theme comes back and I ask myself the question…How to judge today my relationship with my parents? We are fine together, there aren’t any problems, we are happy to see each other, but I am often annoyed by remarques, or attitudes, to which I don’t always react.
Recently, nonetheless, I had quite an incredible conversation with my mother.
We were talking about the organisation of summer vacation, and she moved on to ideas for Christmas vacation. I immediately told her that I wasn’t ready to talk about Christmas vacation, that it was too far away, one problem at a time, the questions about summer hadn’t been answered yet.
Because we live abroad, and go back to France over the summer, which is our opportunity to see friends and family, our summer planning is always an incredible puzzle, a lot of movements, a lot of organisation, I dream of just putting down the suitcases and the 4 kids, and stop moving but it never happens.
Anyways, as my mother, ignoring my response, kept on telling me about her ideas for Christmas vacation, I got frustrated without saying anything. And for once, instead of holding back until the end of the conversation and ending up annoyed, I told her: “Mom, actually, I don’t feel emotionally available to talk about Christmas time. Every time you give an idea, I can’t stop myself from starting to think about it, and I don’t want to, because I already feel overwhelmed with the planning of the summer, and I can’t handle everything at the same time. I would like that we wait to have finished talking about this before moving on.”
… She reacted very well: “Excuse me, I wasn’t thinking, I was throwing that out there, I didn’t think you could feel overwhelmed, since I don’t work that way, I didn’t consider it, ok, I’ll stop, we can talk about it another time.”
I was stunned by her listening…It was so simple, why hadn’t I tried it out before?
Is it a coincidence, or are my readings helping me indirectly in the relationship with my mother?

How many times have we screamed to our children: “Stop screaming now!!!”
Obviously, it doesn’t fit in the model we are supposed to give off…

But here, we are asking another question, where does it come from?

It comes from the fact that some days we are irritated, irritable, because we are tired, because something is bothering us. So, we want even less than usual for our children to add on to it.

Only, they too feel our tension…And it makes them nervous! So, they are harder to take care of, more irritable than usual…But we have no patience, so we react fast, and wrong…so they are annoyed too…Do you see where I’m going with this?

Not easy to get out of that.

I came up with two ideas though:
The first is to tell them at the very beginning that we don’t feel that good, and that we might lack patience. Telling them what we feel is trusting them, it’s explaining to them that our bad mood isn’t due to their behaviour, it’s giving them an opportunity to understand.

The second is to try to put the worries aside. To live a moment of full awareness, if its possible, the problems will come back soon enough. (easier said than done…)

“We should try to be happy, even if it’s just to set the example!” (Jacques Prévert)

« Let’s refrain from minimizing the children’s feelings » writes Isabelle Filliozat in Understanding children’s emotions.

Of course, I had already read that in Faber and Mazlish’s books. We are talking about receiving the child’s feelings (or anyone’s for that matter), no deny them, nor neglect them. No use in explaining that « it’s nothing », for him, it is.
It seems easy, it is not, because we don’t see that as the model around us. (funny that I recently saw it in a children’s story that I had read before…)

In Understanding children’s emotions, the writer tells the story of a little boy who bursts in tears when his balloon breaks. Instead of telling him it doesn’t matter, the adult asks :
« What is this balloon for you?
– everything dies! answers the kid, my grandpa died last week. »
Of course it is not always so extreme! but… some cries can hide others…

We should thus wonder about the child’s history, as for our friend’s little girl, recently arrived in this country, who has a hard time falling asleep by herself.

Following this logic, the author writes:
« Always let him express his feeling, accompany his discharge of cries, yells, shivering, without trying to calm him down. To cry, to yell, to shiver are his ways of expressing his suffering, of freeing his tensions, of healing. »
Ok, I get it. But I have a problem: freeing his tensions, he’s giving me some! I have trouble staying calm when I hear yelling…
It seems to me that my 4 year old should be able to better face his frustration and not burst into tears so often. It is also what his extraordinary teacher says.

Then what? How can we let our children express themselves and still stay sane??

Back to the book post

« Each child is unique, it is not a matter of applying theatrical rules » explains Isabelle Filliozat speaking about letting the child sleep in the parents’ bed. (First chapter of Understanding children’s emotions)

It makes me think.

We often hear that we should not, that it is a very bad habit! And it is exactly what we thought when our kids were small.

It happened only very rarely. Sometimes, when they were tiny babies, they would finish their night in our bed, only because I was falling back asleep while he was feeding, but we never installed the kid in our bed. Why? Because we knew we were not supposed to, bt above all because I needed to sleep! I was exhausted, and the noises of the baby in the room would wake me up, even when he was only moving a bit. A good sleep was necessary for me, and if I were to have another kid today, I would still put him to sleep in another room.

However, I find this sentence interesting: it was the best solution for us, but not necessarily for other parents, other children…

« Does it feel like yes or no? »
It felt like no, but it won’t be the case for everyone.

Last weekend, I was discussing with friends who have hard time making their daughter go to sleep in the evening. She wants someone by her side. I was kidding with them: « Let her with me for a week, no problem, she will fall asleep at 8! »
Yes, for me it is important that the kids understand that after bed time it is parent time, but this is because I need it, simply.

Now I wonder: these parents might need it less than I ? This little girl might have reasons for needing to be reassured? (thinking about one of the questions raised later in the book: « what’s his story? ». In this case a recent change of countries, which means a world upside down!).

Maybe these parents succeed in finding a better balance than what I could do between what their daughter needs and what they are capable of giving her…

I need to ask them: « does it feel like yes or no? »

Back to the book post


While surfing the web, I found an article called: ““Positive” parenting isn’t as positive as we think”. (Article that I believe had more success than it deserved, because of its title…)
Still in the excitement of the discovery that the road I follow in terms of education has a name « positive parenting », I decide to read this criticism, because we always learn more from different opinions.
…On the first read, I find this criticism ridiculous!
The article is very good in terms of presentation of references to positive parenting, but the criticism itself resides in the fact that parents who learn these principles envelope a culpability of not doing right. The author comments, I quote: “If we aren’t 100% positive parents, we just suck 100%.”

So, if I understand correctly, we shouldn’t go on this road, because discovering that we could have better handled the situation of our child puts in perspective everything we did wrong, and we feel guilty, so it’s better to not know anything, that way we don’t feel bad about what we do bad…

A couple days later, I talk about it to a French friend, explaining my read to her, and why I find it ridiculous, and this is what she answers:
“Yes but at the same time, I get the idea, because on Facebook there is this girl that often proposes the positive parenting minute, and every time, I want to slap her!”
Ok… I try to better understand…
“Well, what she explains is great in theory, but in real life, we always end up finding ourselves reacting differently, and it doesn’t work, so it’s annoying!”
I explain my opinion:
“Of course we don’t always manage to respond in the best possible way, but it doesn’t mean that those principles are to ignore!
What I tell myself is that if, while reading these books on positive parenting, I manage to change my reaction once every 5 times, it will still be a victory once every 5 times! And, realising that I could have done better the other 4 times, I’ll be prepared when the same situation will come again, and maybe it’ll turn to 2 times out of 5! We are on the right track anyways, and that’s what matters!
– But that, my friend answers, is because you have already gone through the process of accepting that you are not the perfect parent.”

That’s it, in a nutshell: to accept positive education principles, one has to be able to accept that what we do isn’t perfect. It’s crystal clear. Otherwise, we live through it badly, we are even more stressed, and the result will be a lot harder to notice!!

It seems obvious to me (maybe because it’s often repeated by the specialists of positive education), but it clearly isn’t for everybody. Thus, it’s a parameter to take into account when we share these ideas with somebody…

There you go, I found myself!
One day as I was looking for articles on the difference between punishment and consequence, I came across a French blog of parents (famille épanouie) totally aligned with my own educational principles.
Looking at the forum, I wandered in their readings, and discovered new authors. (Being away from France, I had only been exposed to American writers, I wanted to know what was said in my native country…)
So I ordered a few things, and was reading « J’ai tout essayé ! » (« I tried everything! » – unfortunately not in English yet…) from Isabelle Fillozat, when my brother sent me this article on positive parenting from Le Monde.

The article explains that the educational principles of positive parenting come from Dr. Ginott and were widely distributed in the United States by Faber and Mazlish, before being taken up more recently in France, and that the success of a book like « J’ai tout essayé ! » showed the development of parents’ interest for these new techniques.
Faber and Mazlish, my bible!
Only, I didn’t know I was learning « positive parenting », because at the time, this educational trend had no name yet!
Now I know how to specifically look for my next readings (although I already have quite a few waiting…)!
I feel that a whole new world is opening up, for which I have fortunately built good foundation starting the right way!

In a family, it is sometimes thought that we have a problem child.
We know now that the more we will see him like that, the truer it will become. (see siblings without rivalry – ch 5)

One thing is to make sure we help this child, the other is not to impose more on the others on the pretext that this one has difficulties. It’s a bit like siblings order. Even if it is natural, there is no real reason for a « big one » to not act like a little one anymore, just because there is an even smaller one.

When we last change countries, we struggled. Really. Emotionally, and logistically.
And the 2 small ones really made things harder.
The baby (7 months), began to wake up again several times a night, our almost 3 year old boy couldn’t understand that his world has changed, he would refuse everything, wouldn’t go to sleep without us, and started to hit his little brother.
So, as uneasy as it was for us as well, we were managing as best as we could…
And I remember that in this period,we required from our older ones (12 and 7 years old) that they have no problem. I even remember a time when, after a fight between them, we clearly explained that it already was hard enough with the little ones, and they were expected not to add up to it.

Afterwards, I realized how unfair we had been: they may have little brothers for whom it was difficult, but that did not mean it wasn’t difficult for them as well!

Is it acceptable to repress children, to impose on them a responsibility and good behaviour, when they really are just children who would like to express themselves as well, just because they have siblings who make us unavailable?


I talked a lot with my cousin during the holidays, and one of the things she said, that struck me, is:

« It is very difficult to leave loved ones. However, after adolescence, comes the time to leave. Therefore it is normal that the teenager enters a phase in which he drifts away, he learns to « less love » his parents. It’s not personal, it’s self-preservation. It is this approach that will enable him to take off. »

Hard to hear? Maybe… But maybe not untrue…


Oscar (13) left a jar of peanut butter and a knife out.
I call him, and comment: « I’m tired of always telling you the same things! »

He believes I’m talking about something else, and asks:
« What? Did I drink straight out of the bottle? did I leave my backpack lying around? Didn’t I close the rollerblades’ drawer? »

And then, I realize that he did not drink straight out of  the bottle, he did not leave my backpack lying around, and that he did close the drawer…

Why do we only notice what goes wrong?