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Naomi Aldort: Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves

Posted by (Leticia) on Jan. 3, 2010 at 10:10 PM
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Thoughts?

 

As for me...

This is really the first parenting book I've  ever read. I am about 1/3 of the way through it. Page 19 really scared me with "Putting to final rest the old concept of expecting a child to do what a parent says does not come easy." Yikes! I can't tell Felipe what to do and expect him to do it?? This is still freaking me out somewhat. I keep wanting to find a chapter called "And Now For The Real World." I have to be at  work on time, for one thing. I can't just sit around and wait for him to feel like getting in the car to go to school. He has to get in the car when it is time to get in the car! ...and that's just one example.

BUT - When I express misgivings like these, I feel a bit like the resistant teachers in the workshops I deliver. I show them that the best way for students to learn is to do, to interact, and to have authentic experiences. And they say "But we have to get the kids to pass the multiple-choice test  at the end of the year. We can't do all this - we have to drill them so they can pass the test!" And I'm thinking, the point isn't to get the kids to pass the test, it's to get them to be thinkers and lifelong learners! Besides, if you do all this, instead of drilling them, they will do even better on those stinking tests!

...so that's how I feel when I say I can't let go of my expectation that Felipe will do what I say. I feel like those teachers. Like, if I could just let it go and do it "the right way,' (in this case the Naomi Aldort way), then maybe Felipe would actually be even better at getting in the car when I need him to, etc. etc. etc. But - I'm not quite ready to take that leap yet.

Another thing I've noticed about the book is that it has really taken a LOT of the stress of parenting (and single-parenting) off my shoulders. Even when I can't put my finger on a precise reason, I notice that thinking about the general philosphy put forth in the book (S.A.L.V.E.) makes parenting easier. Even when it isn't easier, it seems easier. I'm more relaxed about things - maybe it's "the serenity to accept the things I cannot change," or however it goes.

One more thing - I just got to the chapter on love, and in it Aldort talks about giving the child your full attention, and she says that is what love is. Furthermore, you have to follow the child's lead - you can't hang out with him on your terms. You have to do what the kid wants to do! She says when you do that, the child will just light up with joy and confidence. Well, I hate to think about the possibility  that I've done anything less than the best for Felipe at any point (I'm not saying I think I'm perfect - just that it's uncomfortable for me to face that, b/c Felipe is so important), but I am trying to go easy on myself b/c really I think I'm just starting to come out of a year of survival-mode after a very abrupt and traumatic end to my marriage... which is all to explain this: I read the bit about full attention = love just a few weeks after basically discovering it for myself! One day Felipe wanted  to ride his vehicles around the house, and wanted me to ride one with him, and I did, and it just made his day, I mean even more than you would ever expect! I immediately noticed how important it was to him and started thinking about why (and riding the vehicles more often!).One thing I picked up on before  I read this part of the book was that it was his idea - I was going to do something else, but he asked me to ride vehicles with him and I just up and said yes, and dropped what I was doing to play his game with him. So I've been trying to do that more often too, now that I have seen how very very much it means to him. Just spending time with hiim was not enough  - and even spending time with him plus giving him my full attention still wasn't completely fulfilling his needs. He needed this - time with me on his own terms.

...OK I guess that was long!! I have been really wanting to talk about this book but my only options IRL are A people who will call me crazy or B people who have never been parents... than I remembered this forum! :o) 

LETICIA

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by on Jan. 3, 2010 at 10:10 PM
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Replies (1-10):
earthmama65
by on Jan. 3, 2010 at 10:19 PM

I really loved that book and took away the quote "you cannot disappoint me."  I also think of giving the child the respect you would give a guest, keeping in mind their health and safety and how it is all so much of a balance.  This book combined with Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn have really had a major impact on my outlook on life in general, and particularly as a parent.


Imamom4sure ♥Kim
by on Jan. 4, 2010 at 1:36 AM

I haven't got the book yet, but I Have her cassette tape collection (trusting our children/trusting ourselves) and I have some homeschool moms in my community that we plan to start a parenting club to support each other in our journey to parent as Naomi Aldort and Alphie Kohn suggest.  

I found that although philosophically I agree with Aldort on the issue of not expecting that a child do what we say, I find if I am stressed I do expect that they just do what I say. LOL

for me, I think its all in how we use the term expect, I think she is using it as meaning a demand and a lack of mutuality.

I truly believe that folks who are really present with each other and truly reflectively listen and understand, they develop a connection so grand that they want to cooperate with each other and make sure that all involved are treated like they matter and what is most important to them will be attended to.  In a way you could say that is an expectation, and maybe that is how you mean the word so that is why you have all this inner noise reading that particular passage.

I think the gist is that our children have an inner experience that they are "winning" with us and not that we are losing but we are "winning" with them. just like any thriving relationship where folks work together in a dance of regular adjustments to make sure life is wonderful for each other and ourselves.

I'm gonna get the book (right now, my friends and I are sharing it, and its being passed around, and of course when we start the club, hopefully by then we will each have a copy and re-read it together) anyway, I would love to know the details of SALVE and what it stands for.

I imagine its some sort of soothing oneself and others when something happens?


mb_dolphin MB
by on Jan. 4, 2010 at 2:28 PM

thank you leticia, i read a few chapters way back when, and have been needing a kick in the butt to pick it up again and read! your post has me really interested again. i think that what i took away when i did read some of it, must have left an impact, because i totally remember at some point in my parenting journey having the same realization about not being able to expect quinn to do what i say... i am not sure if it was this book or some other experience that triggered it for me, but it sure it a doozy of a realization! in fact, it seems to me more reasonable to expect that when told to do something, people will generally NOT want to do it... lol. and thinking of it more in terms of "would i want to be told to do x?" and the idea like sandy suggests of thinking of him as a guest in my house.... those types of thinking have really helped me immensely with parenting. sorry, not a very organized response, but i wanted to say thanks for inspiring me to read it! i guess for me, i have been trying to do my best to design my life situation to create spaces for there to be mutuality as much as possible. there still sometimes come down to moments when i simply have to insist on something (it is usually car seat or diaper related lol) but parenting is a journey, i think we just do the best we can to minimize those moments where one person usurps the other one's autonomy/sovereignty/freedom of choice, and we may never achieve perfection in that. i know i have areas needing improvement on this right now in my life, so this will be a perfect time to read aldort again. (i will give alfie kohn a big shout-out here, too. i think his book unconditional parenting really nailed it for me, on so many of these issues.)

earthmama65
by on Jan. 4, 2010 at 3:35 PM

I am having immense conflict over Pete on this because he thinks Eli just gets to do whatever he wants.  It comes down to me deciding the point of the need for him to do what I say...if it really is a need, then I insist and he complies.  I think by not being arbitrary, the children learn that when you insist on them doing something you say, they have learned to trust that it is not just to control them...that is the way I am aiming anyway.


Imamom4sure ♥Kim
by on Jan. 4, 2010 at 3:47 PM

I agree! they know your not just trying to be their masters, they are most likely to think there is a good reason for your telling them to get away (for example: come away from the heater! it's hot!)

Quoting earthmama65:

I am having immense conflict over Pete on this because he thinks Eli just gets to do whatever he wants.  It comes down to me deciding the point of the need for him to do what I say...if it really is a need, then I insist and he complies.  I think by not being arbitrary, the children learn that when you insist on them doing something you say, they have learned to trust that it is not just to control them...that is the way I am aiming anyway.


FelipesMom Leticia
by on Jan. 5, 2010 at 2:54 PM

OK, this is SO awesome that so many of you are interested in having this conversation, I really thought I was going to be kind of talking to myself here, and last night I was thinking about posting a reply here, and writing a BUNCH more stuff that I had in my head and just really needed to talk about, and today I come back and lo and behold even more people have replied!

...of course, I can't remember now what it was I wanted so badly to say, but I am sure I will remember once I get home and pick up the book again (I am at work now and my brain is definitely in work-mode).

Thank you to everyone for responding period, and also specifically for the insights about expecting the child to do what you say. The idea of it being kind of a continuum, and you do your best and keep moving forward, is very inspirational to me, as I tend to lose motivation anytime I feel I have failed at something. Also I think it will be easier for me to work on this if I think about it as creating situations where mutuality can happen, instead of thinking about it as continuing to ask Felipe to do things and just not expecting him to do them.

Kim you also had a great point about what the word expect means - I will be chewing on that for sure.

I know that I have a lot of stress about looking like a bad parent, and I think I knew it all along but reading it in the book has really brought it home to me (and being in other people's homes for two weeks over the holiday break). This has apparently become quite an issue to me since I became a single parent.

SALVE, btw, stands for Separate (yourself from the situation), Attention on the child I think (?), Listen to the child, Validate the child's feelings, and Empower the child by getting out of the way - this empowers the child to solve the problem themselves. Aldort says that even if you just do the S, it will make a world of difference.

Another thing that I LOVE about the book is Aldort's constant insistance that we are all wonderful parents, we are loving, etc etc, but we all have these thoughts that get in the way. It really really really helps me be able to change a behavior if I don't have a lot of guilt attached to it, which often prevents me from letting it go without a big hoo-ha. The book keeps going on about how everyone has these thoughts, and all we have to do is acknowledge them and let them go, and deep down everyone is a wonderful parent just waiting to happen. It is very validating.

LETICIA

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Tauna1208 Tauna
by on Jan. 5, 2010 at 4:48 PM

What timing!  I finally splurged and got this book and the set of 7 cd's just before Christmas (the cd's were a joint gift for myself & Bill since I can't get him to read books).  I had a lot of driving to do for work just after I got them, so I've listened to all of them at least once now.  They're phenomenal - such deep insights that cut to the core of what's going on in our heads about not just parenting, but how we relate to everyone.  I'm almost done with the book, but I think I've been reading it too absentmindedly, so I'll probably re-read it right away.  As an aside cute comment, Theo has handed the book to me several times saying, "Here's your book to read, raising yourselves and your children".  We suspect he's starting to read some, because I only told him once the title to the book.  He must like it - he rarely encourages me to read anything other than books for him!

Naomi's ideas tie in very well with Alfie, with what seems to be the basics of NVC woven in.  I'm loving the idea to treat our children with as much kindness as we would a cherished friend or guest in our home (but not exactly like a guest, of course).  I love that in the cd's she describes her home...so much like ours it was a relief to hear it!  They go to bed late, sleep late, and make no apologies for it.  We tend to be night-owls, and I've always felt a little guilty that Theo has become one as well.  She acknowledges that there will be some destruction with children around.  I've accepted this, but Bill has had a difficult time with messes and things getting broken.  I love how she talks about kids needing to do a certain amount of this to feel powerful.

It can be difficult to accept that it works best when we follow the child's lead.  What I try to do is the more I need to stick to a schedule, the more freedom I give Theo at other times.  I usually try to mix our outings for my things (work & errands) with things that are really for him (visits to the park, etc.).  If he knows that after I trim this horse, we're going straight to the park, he's happy to make it happen easily.  This would be harder to do with a full-time job away from your child.  So far I haven't heard her address that situation.  But I imagine she'd encourage your time spent with Felipe to be very child-centered (opposite of what TCC says).  I'm still in a bit of a jumble about all that - will let you know when I have more coherent thoughts.

I can say that reading the books and listening to the cd's has already had a big impact.  I'm becoming more aware of so many seemingly small things, and trying to work our way through them.  I don't feel like I've made huge changes in the things we do - just little, hardly noticeable things.  But Theo seems different - calmer, more empathy, more verbally expressive and less physically expressive.  Some of that could be because he had both his parents home the last 2 weeks (Bill was off work).

earthmama65
by on Jan. 5, 2010 at 5:30 PM

I agree Tauna that this book is very paradigm-shifting.  I think that is the "raising ourselves" part of the title.  It has made me examine every little thing and it is causing conflict with Pete because he thinks I'm attacking his intentions all the time, when I'm really attacking his habitual ways of communicating that are hurtful.  He is currently reading NVC and has this book on deck, but he is such a slow reader.  I didn't know there were CDs, but I love the idea as he is in his car a lot.  I will have to look into that.


mb_dolphin MB
by on Jan. 5, 2010 at 7:23 PM


Quoting Tauna1208:

What timing!  I finally splurged and got this book and the set of 7 cd's just before Christmas (the cd's were a joint gift for myself & Bill since I can't get him to read books).  I had a lot of driving to do for work just after I got them, so I've listened to all of them at least once now.  They're phenomenal - such deep insights that cut to the core of what's going on in our heads about not just parenting, but how we relate to everyone.  I'm almost done with the book, but I think I've been reading it too absentmindedly, so I'll probably re-read it right away.  As an aside cute comment, Theo has handed the book to me several times saying, "Here's your book to read, raising yourselves and your children".  We suspect he's starting to read some, because I only told him once the title to the book.  He must like it - he rarely encourages me to read anything other than books for him!

Naomi's ideas tie in very well with Alfie, with what seems to be the basics of NVC woven in.  I'm loving the idea to treat our children with as much kindness as we would a cherished friend or guest in our home (but not exactly like a guest, of course).  I love that in the cd's she describes her home...so much like ours it was a relief to hear it!  They go to bed late, sleep late, and make no apologies for it.  We tend to be night-owls, and I've always felt a little guilty that Theo has become one as well.  She acknowledges that there will be some destruction with children around.  I've accepted this, but Bill has had a difficult time with messes and things getting broken.  I love how she talks about kids needing to do a certain amount of this to feel powerful.

It can be difficult to accept that it works best when we follow the child's lead.  What I try to do is the more I need to stick to a schedule, the more freedom I give Theo at other times.  I usually try to mix our outings for my things (work & errands) with things that are really for him (visits to the park, etc.).  If he knows that after I trim this horse, we're going straight to the park, he's happy to make it happen easily.  This would be harder to do with a full-time job away from your child.  So far I haven't heard her address that situation.  But I imagine she'd encourage your time spent with Felipe to be very child-centered (opposite of what TCC says).  I'm still in a bit of a jumble about all that - will let you know when I have more coherent thoughts.

I can say that reading the books and listening to the cd's has already had a big impact.  I'm becoming more aware of so many seemingly small things, and trying to work our way through them.  I don't feel like I've made huge changes in the things we do - just little, hardly noticeable things.  But Theo seems different - calmer, more empathy, more verbally expressive and less physically expressive.  Some of that could be because he had both his parents home the last 2 weeks (Bill was off work).

lmao: here mama, read your parenting book!!!

i'm interested to hear more thoughts on the part i bolded, tauna! i think i get what you are referring to, but i would love for you to elaborate. :)

and sandy, i think you are right about the "raising ourselves" part.... so much of my own parenting journey has been about my own "birth" and growth as a parent and undoing damage from the way i was raised (re-raising myself, in short.) it is really a trip.

Tauna1208 Tauna
by on Jan. 5, 2010 at 8:24 PM


Quoting mb_dolphin:

lmao: here mama, read your parenting book!!!

i'm interested to hear more thoughts on the part i bolded, tauna! i think i get what you are referring to, but i would love for you to elaborate. :)

and sandy, i think you are right about the "raising ourselves" part.... so much of my own parenting journey has been about my own "birth" and growth as a parent and undoing damage from the way i was raised (re-raising myself, in short.) it is really a trip.

It is funny that he's choosing this book for me to read.  It does feel as if he knows it's helping us, and he wants more.

When I read TCC, I felt so relieved to have someone give me permission to continue living my life after having a child.  It felt like such a relief to not feel like a horrible parent because I didn't relish the idea of never-ending playdates, craft-making and such.  But our reality is not like that of an extended family tribe.  It's usually just me and Theo - how can I not be child-centered at least part of the day and him get his cup full (emotionally and with rich experiences)?  The funny thing is, as I learn how to flow with Theo's desires, I'm finding playdates, craft-making and book-reading (well, that's not a surprise!) to be quite fun for me, too.  We both feel much better after just a bit of time connecting on his level.

There's a way to be child-centered that's destructive, and a way that's healthy.  But it's not about what you're doing or how you're house is set up.  It's about how a person feels about it.  If I got down and built a train set grumbling about how I wanted to be doing something else (which I have done) - that's unhealthy for us.  But taking the time out to build one happily in partnership - totally different.  Naomi's work is helping me better learn how to negotiate.  If it's late, and I'm too tired, I tell Theo now's not the time, but we'll do it at such & such time tomorrow.  If he really wants a train set (for example), I'll put together a little one in a minute so he has something to tide him over.  In the beginning with Theo I was pretty stuck on not being child-centered, but Theo wasn't getting everything he needed.  But I don't think either idea is wrong - they're both interesting concepts to have in mind.  I think it is possible to follow both ideas at the same time (in many cases).  But it all starts with the parent (or caregiver) examining what is going on for them that prevents them from happily offering what the child feels they need.

Which brings me to say that I wholeheartedly agree with Sandy that THE message with Naomi is to raise yourself.  I just told a friend who's about to get married and they're thinking about kids that raising a child can be very healing and enlightening - way more than I ever imagined.  A person can either feel it's a burdensome job or use the opportunity to work through some of their own stuff while still raising a beautiful person.  I now see something in many childless adults (and in many that felt their children were a burden)...I see how they're a bit stilted.  It's not just self-centered, but like something is missing in their development. I think it's like Naomi said in her cd - Love is being on the side of the other person.  When one never experiences unconditional love, they're lacking in depth and empathy.

It's wonderful that Naomi gives us approval wherever we're at, then offers tools to get even better.  I don't know if this was in the book so much, but in the cd, she talks about how our minds are computers and they're not really us - they're just replaying past experiences and things we were taught, but what our minds say (and often make us do) is not necessarily who we really are.  I love that she gives us permission to listen our minds and say "thanks for sharing" as we'd do to anyone's unwanted advice.  Just because a command came from my head doesn't mean I have to obey it.  That right there was profound for me.  It's really helped me to stop and think before doing and saying anything.  Then I often find that no action on my part is necessary.

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