Parenting Toolbox

Trust in the Process 

By Jeeryn D., Parent of Night Wolf Annalee and Magical Mealworm Nolan

It is hard to believe that just a little under five years ago my daughter, Annalee, started kindergarten with Miss Gretchen. Everything about Village was completely new to us. The concept of Positive Discipline and parent participation was like a foreign language. It was a drastically different way of parenting, discipline and involvement than I was brought up with.

I grew up mostly never questioning my parents or the adults in my life, and if I had those thoughts, I kept them to myself. I was taught to be in line with whatever they told me to do. When this didn’t happen, there were consequences that were usually in some form of punishment or guilt. This led to not really having many relationships with adults whom I felt that I could talk to. I knew that I wanted something different for my kids. I understood, from the very first conversation I had with a fifth grader at Village School, that this place is unique and it is exactly what my kids needed.

I wasn’t expecting that change for my family would happen overnight, but I guess I also didn’t expect to have so many challenges either. Some days, especially when Annalee was younger and in the lower grades, we had some pretty tough days at school. I recall thinking “Oh boy… what have I gotten myself into?” Not only was I busier with being involved at school and running my business, but I also had to deal with the dynamics of other children, parents and teachers too. I questioned whether or not it was the right place for us after all. Right around that time when I had all of these questions and doubts, I was approached by the lead for Parent Ed to join the team. Needless to say, I didn’t quite jump at the opportunity. Why would the team want someone like me? I only know how to arrange beautiful flowers. I wasn’t even sure I believed in Positive Discipline at the time, so how could I possibly facilitate it for other parents?! I gave it a lot of thought, and selfishly I decided that the only way for me to become a better parent was to learn as much as I could. There is a saying that is used pretty often in the world of floral designers and events professionals that are starting out: “just fake it until you make it!” I thought this was a great area where that saying might apply.

I went through the required training needed to facilitate the material to other parents. Towards the end of the course was an activity that has always stuck with me. It compared practicing Positive Discipline with learning to ride a bike. The gist of it was this: at first you are scared and hesitant, then you get on, fall, and probably get hurt. Eventually you get back on and are riding a bike. In the beginning, you don’t ride very well and are wobbly, but with time you get better at it. Eventually, you don’t even think about how to do it anymore, you just do. Then it becomes second nature, and you may even begin exploring how to do wheelies or ride without using the handlebars. Just like learning to ride a bike, as with all new experiences, you have to trust in the process.

You may ask, where I am in the process now? Well my daughter is in the 4th grade, so that means we have adopted this philosophy for about five school years now. I am right around the part where it definitely feels more natural and is starting to become second nature. Don’t get me wrong, though. We still have our challenges, and yes, I do yell at my kids sometimes, and I still lock myself in the bathroom. But I have learned that this is only human, and my kids need to see this from time to time to understand that I, too, have my bad days. We will always have our moments, but now we have plenty of tools to help us to recover from these challenges in a way that is respectful to one another.

I’ve been called a veteran parent (crazy!), and have been asked for advice and reassurance. I tell these parents to trust in the process. Whereas, before, I had no other older children of my own with which to compare our early experiences, I now have amazing stories about what my kids have taught me. I am in awe of how my daughter has blossomed into a person who can put together a spreadsheet about where she wants to go for middle school, and why one is better than the other. This, by the way, is because she has had amazing teachers who have supported and allowed her to own her education. I am touched by how she can be an up-stander for her friends and how they have learned to resolve problems on their own. I am proud that she has so many more words than me to express how she feels and why (sometimes a bit scary though, lol). And I believe, wholeheartedly, that this will be the same way for my first grade son Nolan. I am trusting in the process.

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