Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Joy of Manipulation

:: The Joy of Manipulation ::

The word *manipulate* means "to handle skillfully."
Since the main function of childhood is learning how
to handle life skillfully, a "manipulative" child is
only doing what comes naturally.

A good relationship is one in which both parties can
manipulate each other in ways they both enjoy. They
dance with one mind, like Fred Astaire and Ginger
Rogers. It's called *attunement*.

When you and your child are well-attuned, the
manipulation can be so subtle that all you notice is
the pleasure of your connection. But when you're
distracted or stressed, your child will escalate to
unsubtle, unpleasant cues like crying or whining --
whatever it takes to get your attention.

Conventional (adversarial) parenting advice says you
mustn't "give in" to such manipulation. The parent
"wins" when the child gives up hope.

When you understand that unpleasant manipulation is a
symptom of failed attunement, the path becomes clear:

* Align with your Self.
* Attune with your child.
* Focus on the pleasure of connecting.
* Everyone wins.


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Copyright (c) 2009 by Scott Noelle


Christine said...

The parent "wins" when the child gives up hope.Ugh, that's so sad, isn't it? That successful parenting is so often boiled down to that. A child who doesn't fuss, doesn't argue, doesn't ask "too much." The mothers that I look up to and want to emulate aren't the ones with the perfectly behaved children. They're the ones who truly enjoy parenting their children.

I've said to another friend that, for one thing, being in combat mode is tremendously draining. But more importantly (to me) is that when I'm taking an adversarial approach to interacting with my children, those are the times when I'm not enjoying the process. I much prefer to take joy in my children. Why do we have these precious blessings if there's no joy in parenting them?

Also? Aren't we parents the worst offenders for this manipulation thing? Whether it's getting them to nap when we want them to nap, or to eat just two more bites of dinner, or to pee before a long drive... we do it all the time. And it isn't always the wrong thing to do. How is it so different for children, unless we don't consider them people too?

This idea some people have that children are evil and must have a firm hand bring them to God? You've heard this theory, right?

(Tirade alert; consider yourself forewarned!) Because of course gifts from God would be evil right? How does that make ANY sense?! And why should we treat them sternly and lay down the law if the Lord Himself sees fit to win us by Grace and freedom from the Law?

Sigh. On my better days my parenting adheres much closer to my ideals. If I'm running on three hours of sleep, watch out for Combat Mom. :/ How I wish we weren't such products of our upbringing!

Oh, good grief, I do go on, don't I?

Angel said...

Honestly Christine, I couldn't agree with you more! But I, too, fall short of parenting exactly as I believe especially when I am tired or frustrated. That's why I'm making it a huge priority to get what I need for myself so I can be a better mom for them. I don't mean that I leave them and run off to wherever but that I take a nice long bath if I need one, or take a break for a warm cup of tea, kwim? It's so hard to work through and past all of our auto responses based on our own childhood experiences. I can't even count how many times a day I think to myself, "holy crap you sound so much like mom (or dad)!!!" Sometimes that's a good thing, but sometimes it's something I don't agree with (and didn't then either!).

I remind myself daily that my goal isn't "well behaved" children, my goal isn't "obedience", a monkey can be trained to be those things. I want exactly what you want, JOY! Joy in parenting, joy in living, everything. I want them to have the same. If we focused more on being loving (and I mean really feeling and expressing unconditional love in our actions) then we will find our children much more willing to partner with us to get all of our goals accomplished. And when life isn't perfect, we need to accept that they, like us, have ups and downs and can't possibly be "well behaved" in any given moment. I'm amazed at how many parents expect this 100% of the time from their children. Especially at times when it's much harder for them to do so, like at the grocery store, or a friends house, etc.

They want exactly what we want, respect, freedom, a feeling of belonging, and all that good stuff. As soon as we get into power struggles we lose them, and ourselves.

So easy to say all the right things isn't it? But without beating myself up too much, I know I'm well on my way to being the mother I intend to be. One day at a time, one situation at a time :-)
And so are you! You are an amazing momma :-)