Raising children can be a difficult job. At least, I found it difficult, raising 3 children with different personalities, temperaments and needs. I found myself meeting their individual needs and forgetting that we were all part of a group called “family”. Everyone, including me needed to feel accepted and valued for their contributions. I wasn’t sure how to do this so I searched for some parent education that could help me.
In the 1970’s there wasn’t much available so I had to search hard and long to find something that took me step by step toward unifying my family into a group where everyone felt a sense of belonging. The philosophy was based on the psychology of Alfred Adler and was made simple enough for me to understand by Dr. Rudolph Dreikurs in his book Children the Challenge, co-written with Vicki Stolz, RN. I found the examples in the book exactly what I was experiencing at my house.
Little by little I moved the atmosphere in my home from autocratic to democratic. Democracy did not mean freedom to do as one wanted but freedom to decide within limits how to behave. I learned the difference between punishment and consequences and difference between praise and encouragement. I realized my over-protection was discouraging and that I needed to let go and allow my children to learn from their mistakes in my loving environment. I learned to communicate with respect and invite their cooperation rather than demand it.
I also realized I needed support to help me change. I found all this and more and have spent the last 40 years sharing with parents, teachers and caregivers how these principles work. The benefits were many, but most of all I felt confident having a set of tools that helped me to relax, enjoy my children and know what to do when the next challenge arose. I wasn’t perfect but Dreikurs taught me to have the “courage to imperfect”. I am still learning!