A dream for peace in your family

Conributed by Melanie Miller, M.Ed.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. His was a dream of peace, justice and equality.
Do you ever have a dream of peace for your family? In the midst of getting ready for school in the morning, do you wish that the kids would just cooperate and do what will be best for the whole family to get out the door and off to work and school? Or when grocery shopping, do you wish that they would just stop bickering and actually participate and help with the job at hand?
Bringing peace, justice and a sense of equality into your home begins with mutual respect. Mutual respect means having respect for yourself, your children and the situation. It allows us to step away from being the too permissive or the too strict parent. Rather than asking yourself “am I being too strict?”…”am I being too permissive?” You can ask, “Am I showing respect for myself and my children”. “With the actions and words I am choosing am I walking all over my kids or are they walking all over me?”
Mutual respect can become the basis for creating a stable, peaceful, family with opportunities for all members to contribute positively. In a mutually respectful family, children perceive themselves to share equally with their parents and siblings when it comes to sharing their feelings, seeing themselves as a contributing member of the family, or when asking for what they need.
To bring more peace and cooperation to your family, consider some of the following concepts.
Model mutual respect. We are the first teachers for our children. They are watching us and model what they see and hear. Give yourself appropriate boundaries so that your kids can have them too. Become the “backbone” parent in your family…not the “brick wall” or the “jellyfish” parent. (Coloruso, Barbara; Kids are Worth it: Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline)
Talk “with” your kids, not “to” your kids. Talk and act with your kids the way you want them to talk and act with you. Use body language and facial expressions that are respectful. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing or saying inviting cooperation?”
Find meaningful ways for your kids to contribute. Brainstorm with your children on how the family can work together to get out the door on time each morning. Ask them how they can contribute to this goal. Share with them how you will contribute to the goal.
Listen. Sometimes our kids just want us to listen. Listening models respect. After your child is done sharing, ask her whether if she wants help with her problem or just wanted to share it. As parents it is not our job to fix what our children are capable of fixing. If you move around the letters of “listen” you spell “silent”.
Martin Luther King Jr. had respect for himself. He spoke out for what he believed. He had respect for others. He shared his beliefs in peaceful, non-violent ways. He had respect for the situation. He named racism was doing to our country and worked towards much needed change. He made our country a better place to live. His legacy lives on. As parents, we can make our homes a better place to live and hopefully our legacy of children will carry on our peaceful contributions.

Information in this article is based on the work of Jane Nelsen, et. Al. in the Positive Discipline series.

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