I adore New World Library! They have some of the best titles and I get excited when they contact me to do a book review. This past month has been particularly nutty for me schedule wise and as much as I wanted to dig into Parenting with Presence, I just haven’t been able to. However, once I give it a complete read (and trust me, I will), I will report back here. From my brief skim of it, this book looks incredible! Here is brief run-down of the book:
In Parenting with Presence, marriage and family therapist Susan Stiffelman says that even though most parents subscribe to the belief that inner growth happens as a result of daily meditation, mindfulness retreats, and/or inspiration from wise luminaries, it is actually their children who can be their greatest teachers.
“When it comes to parenting, it seems that although we may not have knowingly signed up for the ‘course’ our children offer, we nonetheless find ourselves forced to profoundly grow, and grow up,” writes Stiffelman. “In this respect, I believe our children can become our greatest teachers. While we may not deliberately choose to have a baby so that we can heal wounds from our childhood or become a better version of ourselves, in fact, those opportunities — and thousands more — are birthed right along with our children.”
Parenting with Presence invites parents to embark on a journey of bringing greater peace, joy, and personal transformation into their day-to-day parenting. Stiffelman offers proven strategies to help parents navigate the ups and downs of real-life child rearing with more consciousness, and to learn how to subdue the triggers that make them lose (or temporarily misplace) their equanimity. The book is an inaugural title in Eckhart Tolle’s new publishing imprint with New World Library, which features books hand selected by the bestselling author of The Power of Now for publication.
Susan Stiffelman was kind enough to share a special guest post with all of you today. I think you will find it very valuable! If you are interested in purchasing this one-of-a-kind book, you may do so here.
Parents often bring their children to me because of their problems with anger. Sometimes the child has a difficult time managing his outbursts because his capacity to manage big feelings is underdeveloped because of immaturity or impulsive tendencies. But often I discover that Mom or Dad also have big tempers.
All of us — children and adults alike — are subject to strong emotions that we cannot always control. Some people are easygoing, hardly ruffled when life doesn’t go their way. But others struggle to keep frustration and disappointment from wreaking emotional havoc. If the root cause of anger is not addressed, we sometimes end up doing or saying things we regret. Using threats or punishments to deter our children from acting out angrily can drive unresolved emotions underground, where they can show up as eating disorders, addiction, or depression. It can also stockpile the fuel for a bigger explosion of rage later on.
Instead of shaming ourselves when we lose our cool, we need to step back, determine what we’re thinking or feeling, and identify the underlying source of our rage. Anger can be the outward manifestation of unresolved grief, sadness, frustration, stress, hormonal imbalance, anxiety, or fatigue. Until we understand that it is a symptom of something that needs to be addressed rather than a voluntary behavior, we will not be able to diminish its impact on our lives.
When I am working with a family in which angry outbursts are commonplace, I find it helpful to facilitate conversations between the yeller and the yellee (the target of the rage) in a way that makes it safe for both to be heard. When both parties can lay down their defenses and step into the other’s shoes for a few moments, they become more willing to work on resolving whatever emotions are fueling their flare-ups.
I also tell the following story (author unknown):
A young boy had a very bad temper; he often lashed out in anger at those around him. One day his father gave him a bag of nails and told him that each time he lost his temper, he was to go hammer a nail into the fence.
The first few days, the boy had to hammer lots of nails into the fence. But as time went on, he gradually found that he could catch himself before he lost his temper. Knowing that he would have to find a nail and take it to the backyard to hammer it into the fence helped him manage his angry outbursts.
Finally, the boy came to a point where he was able to tell his father that he had learned how to stop himself from losing his temper. His father said that each time he was able to get through a day without hurting others with his anger, he could remove a nail from the fence.
The day arrived when the boy went to his father to tell him that all the nails were now gone.
The father led his son to the fence and said, “You have learned something very important, son. But I want you to look at the holes in the wood. This fence will never be the same as it was before the nails were hammered into it. In the same way, when you say things in anger — even if you apologize — your words and actions leave a scar like these holes in the fence.”
We need to help our children learn to lengthen the gap between having an impulse to say or do something and acting on that impulse. To err is human and to forgive, divine. But as children deepen their understanding that, like nails in the fence, our actions have irreversible consequences and can harm important relationships, we can help them take steps toward slowing down when they are upset, taking responsibility for their actions, and making amends when needed.
The damage done by cruel words and hurtful behaviors cannot be undone. Whenever we argue with others, we need to pause and consider the effects our words might have on them.
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SUSAN STIFFELMAN, MFT is the bestselling author of Parenting with Presence and Parenting without Power Struggles. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a credentialed teacher, and the Huffington Post’s weekly “Parent Coach” advice columnist. She lives in Malibu, California where she is an aspiring banjo player, a determined tap-dancer, and an optimistic gardener. Visit her online at http://www.ParentingwithPresence.com.
Excerpted from the book Parenting with Presence: Practices for Raising Conscious, Confident, Caring Kids ©2015 by Susan Stiffelman. Printed with permission of New World Library.