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To: In the Minds Eye

My mom and I went to a meditation class and the instructor used the phrase, "in the minds eye" about a million times during the class. For my mom it made her feel like she wanted to squirm out of her seat.  She    r e a l l y   needed a new phrase.  But for me, it really made me ponder what was in my "mind's eye".  "Mind's eye" refers to the human ability to visualize, i.e., to experience visual imagery; in other words, one's ability to "see" things with the mind.

A few posts ago I wrote about sleep training babies.

What is in our mind's eye, or another word, what is our focus when sleep training our babies?

Our minds eye changes according to the priority we have in any given problem we are trying to overcome.  A friend asked me my advice on how to help her children sleep.  After discussing the problems we concluded quickly it was not the children's problem, it was a parenting problem.  Many times our children's problems are not their own, but ours- the parents.  We are simply training our children how we want them to behave.  (Isn't that so in many areas of our lives- we train others how we want to be spoken to, treated, and interacted with?)

But, what is in our mind's eye?  What is the true end goal and are we aligned with those priorities as we carry out our plan?

A parent might want a child to sleep through the night, but they are unwilling to stay up themselves throughout the night bringing a child back to bed without emotion, to re-train a toddler that night time is bed time?  Or what about a parent who finds it difficult to say no, thinking they are offending their child or "being mean"?  There are other parents who have waited to become pregnant or adopt for years and once that child is finally in their arms, they want to give this child "everything".

But, what is everything?  

I believe (most) parents want to give their child a perfect world, but how do we do that?

There are many questions parents ask themselves about sacrifice and how to teach, train, and rear their children.

Now I am not going to tell you how to sleep train your children.  There is no right or wrong way.  All families are different in their needs and desires.

But, there is a similar theme through sleep training, really parenting in general, when wanting to find success- and that is consistency.  We must first step back enough to see where to use our intuition and in that wise mind state form a plan (have you done your homework? parenting is a full time job, don't wing it, please) on how we want to execute what is in our "mind's eye".  Once a plan is formed, can we keep to it?

I can guarantee 9/10 times success will be found if we can find that intuitive balance of consistency.

Why does a child need us to be consistent on what we say and do?

- Children of all ages can learn to use inconsistent parenting styles to their advantage -- playing each parent off against the other, or using examples of insconsistent parenting as a reason for pushing the boundaries.
- Differences of opinions between parents on how to discipline and nurture their children can lead to marital conflict
- Poor parental 'internal consistency' (when a parent is inconsistent with their own approach from day-to-day) can cause children to develop attachment issues.  They could find it difficult to see you as a reliable source of comfort and there can be little predictability or structure.  Poor attachment can be associated with a range of social, behavioural and emotional problems for children.
- Lack of consistency can mean parents are questioning their own decisions and are less likely to follow through with rules.
-Very different parenting styles between a couple can lead to a "good cop/bad cop" situation where children can tent to gravitate towards one parent for nurture and warmth and demonize the other parent.
- Trust issues.  When a parent says to do one thing and doesn't follow through, it is confusing to the child.  This may not be tragic when you say you can not have another cookie, but then that second cookie is given, but when a pattern arises and the parent consistently does not follow through now the child does not know when their parent is being real or fake, reliable or unreliable.  When that child really needs their parent (it's a sticky world folks), they don't know if their parent is really going to stand by their side or not.  If a child learns he doesn't have to feel threatened by their parents, "no", it also teaches him they can not trust what their parent says.  "I will be here for you son", "You can always talk to me", etc., etc.

I know when put so frankly, no parent would choose these things for their children.  But, don't we do it if we aren't careful?

Also, we need to look at what is best for our child and best for ourselves.  I am a big advocate in teaching my children that our relationship is a two way one.  I have a role in their lives and in this family, as they do as well.  They can not be demanding of me, constantly wild, and disobedient and not take responsibility in how it affects others around them.  If they are like this, I want them to know that my energy gets drained faster or the natural consequence of their disobedience is going to bed earlier so they can get their sleep and be in more control the next day.  They are not scolded, rather, the natural consequence follows: early to bed, less time to play, or mom needs a break rather than doing something that was planned.  My children can take responsibility, ownership, and feel good about how they interact, react, and behave.  What is best for me is also what is best for them.  To have wild kids all day, that is not good for me and in return, not good for them.  To have children up all night long does not give me the proper rest I need, which is not good for me, which is not good for them. Children not going to bed at a proper hour does not give me time in the evening to rejuvenate in a calm, cool, quiet house- which is not good for me, which is not good for them.

So when parents let their children "walk all over them" (that is such a judgmental phrase), that is not in the best interest for the children, or the parents.

In my minds eye, I strive for harmony and balance.  I find that through consistency in a well thought out plan.  When my children know what the rules are of the house and I keep those rules in force, the feeling of the home becomes grounding, calm, and one that my children can always relay on.

As the mother, I want my children to be able to relay on this home, Ryan and I, and themselves as sources they can trust and be fueled with to combat their worlds.

What is in your mind's eye?  Are you willing to sit there, put in the work and really examine what's in your mind's eye, or does the thought of looking inward make you squirm and find another seat?

Thank you,

Consistency

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