“It is easier to walk a beaten path than it is to break a new trail.”
After a few pages into my reading of Connection Parenting: Parenting through Connection instead of Coercion, through Love instead of Fear, I came across this sentence which captures so beautifully the essence of the Meanders of Motherhood. What the author Pam Leo means is that, it takes courage to heal the wounds from our childhood and replace the old parenting tapes programmed in our brain with a new set of parenting skills.
Pam Leo studied child development, psychology, sociology, and anthropology while experiencing first hand child rearing with her two daughters and through her job as a childcare provider. She put together in 1989 a series called Meeting the Needs of Children, which supports parents in learning how to relate to children in a positive way. She also shared her connection tools and strategies through a column in the Parent & Family paper from Maine.
“Children need at least one person in their life who thinks the sun rises and sets on them, someone who delights in their existence and love them unconditionally” – Pam Leo
The book is widely based on the classes she teaches; each of the seven chapters relates to one session theme. At the end of each chapter, Pam Leo encourages us to deepen our consciousness of our own parenting journey with targeted exercises drawn from her classes. Quotes and lively metaphors are sprinkled around the text as Pam Leo unfolds her argument. It goes something like this: What children want and need the most is to be with us, but in our modern lifestyle – where stress and busyness are inevitable compounds – connection and time spent together are eroded. The loss of family support, the boisterous invasion of screens in our homes and the Western cultural tendency to separate adults’ and children’s worlds have further depleted the child-parent bond.
Children’s acting-out behaviour is (literally) a cry for a hidden hurt or an unmet need, either physical or emotional. Pam Leo propounds compassionate ways to adapt our current lifestyle and create optimal conditions for our children to get the connection they need and thrive.
Connection Parenting supports us to parent with influence built through love and respect rather than resorting to coercion. The author pinpoints that using physical size to assert our authority on children – as commonly used one generation ago – is a form of bullying that children will internalise and replicate. Parenting influence measures in the strength of the parent-child connection, but Pam Leo warns us: this parenting approach is not a quick fix, it takes time and commitment. No parent is perfect and the good news is that even if you do lose your temper and do not respond in the way you intended to, you can make amendments with the reconnection tools: Rewind, Repair & Replay.
“The level of cooperation parents get from their children is usually equal to the level of connection children feel with their parents” – Pam Leo
While the approach rings true with my instincts, I will admit there was so much I needed to learn that I read with a red pen in hand and will refer back frequently to check I am on the right track. My endeavour not to miss a tip is perhaps the reason why the infographics below are so condensed. I found the book very empowering and was particularly interested in the lessons from Chapter Two: “Respect” and Chapter Six: “Decoding the language of behaviour”. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.