of Parenting Beyond
Punishment and Wild Child Counseling. I'm a licensed therapist and
I work with children, adolescence, parents and educators. I also
have an online Facebook group called
Punishment. It's really a place where parents and other people who
work with children can go to get support and encouragement. To
find out what they can do rather than punishing their children.
It's really grown to be quite a supportive community, so you can
find us on Facebook or you can go to my website
I'm also a licensed social worker and the director and a trainer
Lives in the Balance which
is the nonprofit that Dr. Ross Green started to help disseminate
his model which is called Collaborative and Proactive Solutions.
We also disseminate other non-punitive respectful models that
diverge from traditional discipline. You can find us on the web at
and we are also on Facebook at Lives in the Balance. We have
an educators Facebook page right now called Lost and Found to help
educators who are trying to implement collaborative and proactive
solutions in their schools and to get support from one another and
problem solve. We are about to launch a parent Facebook group too
to help parents to implementing the model in their homes and get
I am the founder of TEACH Through Love.
TEACH Through Love is really an online resource for parents
and teachers and communities to spread the message of conscious
parenting. Peaceful conflict resolution and definitely no punitive
discipline is a focus. I am a speaker, a parent educator. I have a
degree in education, that was one of my former lives as a teacher.
I really come to this work as a misunderstood kid and my passion
is for healing fractured family relationships and really restoring
peace and respect to that parent child relationship, which I think
is really missing. It was missing from my experience anyway.
TEACH Through Love is where you can find me on the web and also on
Facebook. We have a couple of pages on Facebook and a page where
parents can come and get questions answered.
Peters Bennett I am a clinician. I work with children who have
been traumatized and also adults who are struggling with the
aftermath of early distress in their childhood. I'm also the
StopSpanking.org which is a non profit that is dedicated to trying
to share the information that we know in terms of research about
the damaging effects of spanking children. And also promoting
positive discipline which is how I know these amazing ladies on
this panel, because as soon as you say don't spank a parents is
going to say "well what do I do?" That is the hard road and that
is what these loveley women are doing, promoting more
collaborative style of parenting that are connection based and
attachment based. And you can find more about my work on
StopSpanking.org and on
I'm director of the Center
for Building a Culture of Empathy. This is a large resource
for building a movement to create more empathy in the world.
I've come to see that the family is perhaps one of the most
important areas that we need to create more empathy in society in
What is your parenting style and what is the role of empathy in that approach?
We are looking at a broad overview of parenting styles. There are so many
different styles from maybe an authorization view to a very empathy-based approach and everything in-between. What I thought we could do is go around with
each person sharing what is the parenting style that you advocate for, or use,
or educate around and what do you see as the roll of empathy within that
parenting style. Then later on we will go through some of the other styles in a
more systematic way and talk about them. Is there someone that would like to
jump in to begin with?
I can jump in, because I love the parenting style question. I think we can
really get caught up in categorizing ourselves and sort of limiting our selves
in that. I think for me my parenting style is conscious. So there really
is no set of rules. Whether you are authoritative, authoritarian, I think
they are just levels of connection that we are really talking about. So when I
say conscious, for me, it is first initiating connection, because that is where
problem solving, where self regulation, where empathy, where all that will come
from is only when we can start to become conscious. I think a lot of us parent unconsciously because we are just
doing what everybody else is doing.
We were never given that sense of being
heard, so we don't really think it's important to kids. So for me the most
important piece is definitely bringing in empathy but having that first as a
parent, you have to have that for yourself if you want to be conscious so it's a
couple of steps.
I don't like to call it a parenting style, I really like to think of it just as
restoring this relational aspect to parenting. I don't like to tell anybody how
to parent. I don't want to tell you what rules to set for kids, what's
important, what values are important to you. I want to show
families how to be conscious. How to not just be reactive in the moment.
"the role that empathy plays is simply that
it is the super glue of relationships."
I grew up with a lot reactive parenting, so for me it's about stepping in and slowing down and restoring connection first and
the role that empathy plays is simply that it is the super glue of relationships. Empathy
really is what puts us in that place of being able to be compassionate.
Are you saying, you don't like to have these different categories and look at it
from a styles perspective, but look at it more from relationship and how you can
create relationships, and empathy is the like core of relationship building
Lori, exactly, exactly.
So I really believe in parenting beyond punishment. That when we
can step outside those ways that we typically want to control children's
behaviour and instead recognize that their behaviour is communication, that they
are really having a hard time and they are saying "help me, help me, I don't
know what else to do, so this is what I'm doing," whatever that behavior might
be. And it's really a lot that Lori said that we are looking at connecting would
our children right where they are, so that everybody can become emotionally
regulated. Then we can learn something different. So if the child is having a
hard time and it is showing in their behaviour, once they are emotionally
regulated we can offer them empathy to help them get there and stay
emotionally regulated ourselves. The we can move into a collaborative problem
solving with them, sort of like what Kim does in her work.
"It's about the relationship. It absolutely has so
empathy involved both for the child
and for yourself and for the situation."
It's about the relationship. It absolutely has so much
empathy involved both for the child and for yourself and for the situation.
Parenting is complicated, relationships are complicated and if we can say,
you know what, I've having a really hard time and I can see you as my child are
having a really hard time. Let's get to a place where we feel better, and then
let's figure out what we can do differently together. That's a lot of what we
talk about. So instead of trying to control the behavior, we really focusing on
that relationship and we do it through play and connection and empathy and
building skills together because I didn't get these skills as a child. So I am
kind of learning the skills right along with my child and I think a lot of us as
parents are doing that.
I think the role that empathy plays in our model of Collaborative
and Proactive Solutions, it helps parents and educators to get curious about
what is happening. So we talk a lot about, "what is your philosophy for why kids
are doing what they are doing or misbehaving". We spend a lot of time talking
about traditional philosophy compared to our philosophy which is a 180% change.
Because we want folks to connect with being curious with why is this kid having
a hard time right now.
"empathy... helps parents and educators to
get curious about what is happening"
We build empathy to give that space for parents to, as Lori says
"get conscious' and stop and think about why this could be happening before they
decide how they are going to intervene. Also the first step in doing CPS is
called the empathy step. Ross would say that he would maybe rename it to also
add information gathering because that is the goal. But I think you need to be
kind of couched in coming from a place of empathy to even initiate the first
step, which is a neutral nonjudgmental question, based on age would vary, along
the lines of, "wow you seem to be having a hard time with that? What's up?
What's going on?"
Ideally, we are creating this space for empathy to enter the
equation, proactively so we are not always dealing with things in the moment,
because that is not terribly successful, much of the time. Although it can be
useful for deescalating, it doesn't necessarily have a positive long tem effect.
So I would say getting parents to get curious so that they can take a breath and
stop and think and ask some neutral non judgmental question or make some
observations if their kids are littler. To try to think about what we call
lagging skills leading to unsolved problems which is what creates behaviors, so
starting to create space to think about what those are for their child in this
I think that everything these ladies have said is so spot on. This idea of
restoring connection. To me I'm interested in world peace honestly. I'm
interested in ending child abuse which I believe is a very doable thing. I think
that when I was raised it was a bad weather, it's just part of life. In studying the research and working in the field of trauma and
understanding neuroscience, it is that understanding that we create the kinds of
parenting styles. We have invented some parenting practices that are very, very
damaging and they have to do with the bigger picture of trauma of our parents
and our grandparents, or our culture all over the world really.
interested in ending child abuse
which I believe is a very doable thing."
And so from a perspective of restoration were are talking about what is the most
effective way to grow the brain, to nourish development so that we have children
that have empathy and tolerance and motivation and ambition and love and joy.
That is what we all want to experience, we want to be having loving
relationships with our children throughout our life, where they are there, they
want to come visit, they want to be with us, they want to call on the phone. Not
out of obligation but because of connection, because it is a nourishing
relationship. And what is so interesting about us as a species is that the brain
is very responsive to punishment, it's more responsive to punishment than to
reward. So it is a very seductive thing to use when we want to get our way,
because you can get immediate response and you can get a very powerful response.
The fascinating research coming out of neuroscience over the last 15 years has
taught us that what is even more powerful, even has more of an influence, is the
power of unconditional positive regard. Unconditional love essentially. And
esoteric as that sounds, it is neurobiology founded and so when you really truly
have a loving connection you do several things, one is that you soften or you
relax the stress response so that child is not agitated and this just allows
their brain to flourish. Also you activate all of the reward systems in the
brain so that the child is more likely to experience pleasure in relationship
and much less likely; to need alcohol when they are a teenager, to need food, to
need high risk behaviour, to need high risk activities to feel that they only
feel better when I am taking something in or acquiring something or possession
So I think this is a very huge evolutionary development in our culture over the
last 15 or 20 years, and probably longer than that in terms of moving away from
a materially based drug and alcohol inebriated culture to one of flourishing
So to me the most important thing we can be doing is helping mothers and fathers
feel supported so that they can have connection and so that they can really
understand their children and empathy, of course, is the foundation to that
because we essentially are our relationships. Little children are mimics, they
mirror us, they mirror us.
Looking at parenting and empathy in the family. I'm interested in getting a
broad overview and one of the first things I did was look on Wikipedia at the
different parenting styles and it gives different approaches. One was
authoritarian parenting. Maybe we can just have an open discussion about your
thoughts on this approach and the role of empathy in Authoritarian Parenting.
For Authoritarian Parenting the first thing that comes up for me, is a program
that is along those lines. That's the organization 'Focus on The Family'.
I don't know if you are familiar with that organization?
"The focus was not on
empathy and necessarily being heard
about what was going on for me. "
I would say my upbringing was more along those line. I got spanked as a child.
It was a loving family but it was more authoritarian, follow the rules, obey. The
focus was not on empathy and necessarily being heard about what was going on for
me. If we could hear from our panel, what are your insights about
authoritarian parenting and the role of empathy within it?
I could weight in. I had a similar upbringing, a very loving home but there was
some spanking although I was the youngest of seven and the youngest by far. I
think my parents we tired by the time I came along so I didn't receive as much
as the others but I got the, "Wait until your father got home quite a bit."
For me, what ended up being missed in that parenting style was that I had a
major lagging skill around cognitive flexibility and a change when the plan
changed. So I can remember, being told "ok we are going to go roller skating" and
then at the last minute the plan changes and "now we are going to the movies". And
I perfectly liked going to the movies and in fact I'd probably say I like the
movies better than roller-skating.
But I would have a hard time and I would melt down and cry about it and it was
read as she likes her own way and dealt with that way. As opposed to let's take
a breath and get curious what could be troubling for her here. Oh, it's a change
in plan that is what is hard. It's hard for her make that shift cognitively and
give me some skills so that it's not so hard.
Because then as an adult,
especially when I became an manager and had to put fires out all the time, I
would have a really hard time with that and I wasn't doing it any major
behaviour with it but I would become anxious and it would come out as, snappy,
which doesn't really work in the context of a personal relationship. I could be
viewed as unhelpful, or ridged, or something like that. So flexibility and like
we talked about those breathing moments that take the time to think through. I
think expectations are fantastic especially the realistic kind. So it's all in
how you pursue the expectations that are not being met, that is really critical.
If empathy can be part of how you are pursuing the expectations that are not
being met, then you got something going there.
"If empathy can be part of how you are pursuing
the expectations that are not
then you got something going there."
I can speak to the authoritarian as well. I think there is obviously a
difference between authoritative and authoritarian. I grew up in the
authoritarian in which I didn't have any voice. Authoritarian to me is not even
authoritative, where there may be punishment, where there may be even no voice,
but it's more a parent that seeks to control every aspect. That's how I see
authoritarian, that's how I felt it and so for me whenever I'm helping parents
or looking at my own child's behaviour and the negative behaviour and trying to
figure it out, I always look at three areas. Skills, stress and the state of the
relationship. So authoritarian for me, just like Kim was saying, it
impacted my skills. My communications skills, my ability to be flexible, my
ability to self regulate, and not having a voice, being shut down with
"I grew up in the
authoritarian in which I
didn't have any voice."
There was a lot of physical punishment, I come from culturally accepted violence
and I'm not just talking about spankings. I mean like backhanded across the face
with out warning kind of stuff. It made me hyper vigilant, it made me very alert
to what was going to happen and then I also found out when I was 38 that I grew
up with undiagnosed Aspergers. So for me there was this peace that people didn't
understand my emotional expression. Some people will say, 'Oh these kids don't
show it.' and I'm going to say that the adults in my life didn't understand it.
So the authoritarian on top of this special need or whatever we want to call it
these days. Difference, learning style, brain difference, whatever we might call
it, it impacted me on several levels.
So the skills and the state of the relationship. People thought I was being rude
or just wanting to get my way. I got accused of a lot of disrespect because that
disrespect was coming at me and through this authoritarian parenting. For
me, I was so sensitive that I just melted down and reacted very strongly back.
Some kids may shut down and you might not see that emotional neglect that is
going on and some kids will act out. And I kind of did both, but I definitely
acted out so I became very aggressive with my siblings. That was another impact
that it had and they were much, much, younger than me, 6 and 7 years younger. So
now I was a teenager and unable to control my emotions with very small children
and so it causes a lot of problems in those relationships. So I think it
affected me on all of those levels, my skills, my stress of what I could
tolerate, and the relationship that I had with my parents and with other people
This authoritarian comes definitely,... there is a cultural impact, I think
immigrants were much more likely to be authoritarian because it was survival
based. And like Robbyn was say, we sort of invented a lot of parenting
strategies based on our needs, based on what we were trying to achieve in those
moments. That's my view on the authoritarian and what it impacts. That's
definitely the most damaging in terms of what it does to our child's
resilience and their ability to take in life experience and roll with it. You
know really to be able to bounce back.
Yes, I really resonate with what Lori is talking about. In my own
upbringing, my parents were very devout religiously. In some way that was their
strength but what came with that was also a preoccupation with being bad and
being good. And what happens when you are an anxious person anyway, maybe
you came from a violent upbringing or a very strict upbringing that makes you
kind of reactive. Then when you are with your children you become very worried
that they are going to be bad and you react. And you can react very aggressively
and don't even realize it and for me I was often quiet afraid of being bad.
"...for me I was often quiet afraid of being bad. "
I think at the root of it the aggressive, angry, yelling, or hitting, all of
that, sort of authoritarian approach, I was supposed to show respect even
when I couldn't. Even when I was overwhelmed and the underlying piece of it is
just feeling that I'm a bad person, I'm unlovable, and feeling a lot of hatred
that could never be expressed. So I think that is the other piece of it
that if we treat children in a way that we treated our friends they would no
longer be our friends. Or our husband would no longer marry us, he would be out
Then we have to think about, ok, those are a common idea about being a human
being. Why would we treat children differently and I think it's ultimately
shame, an authoritarian parent is usually afraid they are a bad parent and
afraid their children are going to be bad. Instead it is better to be concerned
if children feel bad, if they feel bad then we try to understand why they are
struggling, instead of are they a bad person, which is more of a moral judgment.
I was also raised in a very authoritarian religious family, spanking and
grounding, lots of love too, I mean, without a doubt. In conversations as an
adult now they say we did a lot of what we did because we were afraid we would
get in trouble if we didn't. Or we were afraid we were disobeying god if we
didn't. And that was a huge point of contention for us for years as I'm sure
most of you all can relate. What I have learned is that with growing up
without having a voice I had to find a new voice that wasn't just about being
angry and it wasn't just about someone has to hear me somewhere but what is that
voice. Developing more empathy and compassion for people instead of just sitting
in that anger that I wasn't allowed to express. It's so much of this growing up
as an adult instead of learning these things as children that I think we all
want our children to learn.
One of the things that sticks out for me is, because it was that whole good, bad
thing like Robbyn mentioned. That I just remember going through my parents think
that this is bad, but I don't think this is bad so I am just going to get sneaky
and lie because I don't think I'm doing anything wrong. And so I got really good
at it, and then my parents thought I was so good and so I wasn't the black sheep
until I got older. So now we have sort of healed and we figured it out and
I don't think I am really the black sheep anymore. We'll have to ask them and
"Empathy has been a hard thing
because it wasn't modeled "
Empathy has been a hard thing to learn because it wasn't modeled and
compassion has been another thing that has been hard to learn. Honesty and
integrity, like it is ok for me to be honest and say "I think this is good and
so this is who I am." I'm presenting that to people, our authentic selves,
my authentic voice. So many things, flexibility, like what Kim was talking
about. When you don't have a voice and you have to obey authority or you are
afraid you are going to get hurt, you don't get to learn those key skills you
don't get to learn impulse control and you don't get to learn emotional
regulation and having an authentic voice.
I think we all want that for our children. I think universally we want our
children to be able to make decisions that are good for themselves and for other
people. And have compassion and have respect for themselves and others. I just
can't see how that can possibly happen in an authoritarian households where
children have no voice.
I did a documentary on my family history and my parents come from eastern part
of Germany. Part of the documentary they talk about their upbringing and they
talked about the switch which was kept above the door. They got spanked with
switches, it was very authoritarian there too. So it goes from one generation to
the next and what I'm seeing here, it that everyone here had somewhat of that
background and is looking for alternative. That is quite fascinating to me.
The next approach I saw here was the Authoritative Parenting and I'm not really
clear on what that really means. Does anyone want to jump in and explain that
I think that is when we take the extreme hitting out of the authoritarian and we
put control in. But it is getting a bit better with each generation, right?
I have friends that have that same authoritarian upbringing and they don't hit
their kids but they are still really authorities and that is really where I see
most people hangout and get stuck. If they don't really pay any attention to it,
if their kids aren't causing enough problems where it's just disrupting
the whole family, or disrupting school, and we can deal with a certain level of
negativity from our kids and parents, so that builds up.
"But authoritative really just means
I'm going to keep control"
But authoritative really just means I'm going to keep control but I'm going to
do it in a way where it doesn't fall under the terms of abuse. Which is what
hitting and things do now. That's my take on authorities.
I love it Lori. I think of it as this adverse childhood experience study. You
can get this sore from 0 to 10 depending on the kind of adversity you have. I
always think the higher your score the more deregulated you usually are and mine
is pretty high. So I think how upset I am on the continuum, how stable or not
stable is my environment. The modality is still one of authoritative, my
authority is threatened so I have to protect it and it really fundamentally is
lack of trust in love.
"The modality is still one of authoritative,
my authority is threatened so I have to protect it "
And a lack of trust in relationship and just how incredible like Kim that's work
that she is talking about with Ross Green. One of the things they talk about is
being able to get in there and solve the problem together. As if you are going
on a plane ride was one of the analogies he had one time and you don't really
know where you are going to end up. You want to go to Hawaii, your child wants
to go the Bahamas but you don't know where you are going to end up and you can't
in the back of your head go I already know where we are going to go. I'm just
going to get my way and I'm going to be a really good listener, but we are going
to Hawaii, so that to me is authoritative. It's like if you still got your
frontal lobe going so you can be kind of tricky, which we are all guilty of that
at certain times. I've had to work very hard on that myself personally.
I think that sometimes the focus is so strictly on "I have to teach my kid right
from wrong". And punishment is not the only way to do that. Also if we are
so restrictive in that thinking what we could actually be teaching is blind
adherence to authority, with no thought process and no thinking and no problem
solving that takes place. A lot of folks I will run into will say when
they get out into the big bad world that is what they need to know. They
need to know when to put their head down and say 'yes ma'am, no ma'am'. or 'yes
sir, no sir'. And when we think about it and I've done an informal poll of
many adults. That is actually not our experience as adults.
We all have bosses, or sometimes maybe we have been stopped for speeding or
something like that, that had to do with the police. And it's not always black
and white. There's often room to say, "can you tell me where you are coming
from? Here is where I'm coming from". "Can we get together on this?"
I think taking the plane ride, and that's exactly one of the symbols we use is
really helpful because it teaches the child to problem solve. And those are the
skills that they really need most of the time in their adult life.
the one thing that stands out for me most for authoritarian and authoritative
there is still just seems to be so much fear around our role as an authority
figure. That idea that if I am not in control, I'm either a shuck, or all chaos
is going to break loose. We have this sort of, if your kids are having a hard
time parents want people around you what you to come down on your kids. There's
that fear of what are people thinking or this fear of my kid is controlling me
or I am not strong enough and I think what we are looking for which
empathic-based parenting is to say I have some fears. I have some fears that I
am not doing this right, or I have some fears that my kids are maybe a little
out of control in this one moment or several moment through their lifetime.
It's having empathy for yourself in those moments and having empathy for your
child in those moments that moves you out of those authoritative and
authoritarian roles. So that we are not afraid of not having our thumb down on
our children. I don't know, I agree with all of what you all have said. There is
some differences, but there is still not a lot of empathy for what's going on
and not a lot of understanding for where our children are and what's going on
for them on the inside.
"It's having empathy for yourself in those moments and
having empathy for your child in those moments
that moves you out of those authoritative
and authoritarian roles."
Don't you think Amy it goes back to what you were saying earlier which I
completely agree with, That we focus on behaviors, so authoritarian and
authoritative they both on stopping behaviors. Whereas empathic parenting or
conscious parenting focuses on solutions, are be building skills, are we
restoring connection in our relationship. Are we helping the child regulate
stress, what are we really focusing on and when we are focusing on those root
causes we can see beyond the behaviour. But those two they don't allow for any
taking into consideration what is going on internally. And that is so important
to stopping behaviour and to really addressing it to know what is going on
internally and those two approaches are so... it's a hierarchy at that
point, it's the parent at the top and we have the rules and we make all the
Lori, I think about this idea of knowing what's going on inside and thinking
like that is how I actually manage my behaviour like I'm paying attention to all
of you but I'm also tracking myself. Like how am I feeling, what's going on
inside of me, what do I need, what is influencing what's occurring. Then from
there, I am able to connect to you and have relationship and that I think is a
learned behaviour and when you grow up in a home where your internal world in
not investigated then you don't know how to do that.
I think that is why psychotherapy is such a huge business because you have
to go somewhere and learn how to pay attention to yourself inside and you really
do that through like what Carl Rogers, the famous psychologist said. Through the
therapist giving you unconditional positive regard. And that is essentially
reparenting us because of the defects that our parents didn't know how to give,
and probably didn't' receive themselves.
"that is essentially
reparenting us because of the defects
that our parents didn't know how to give, and
probably didn't' receive themselves."
That is so interesting what you are saying Robbyn because that tracking of your
emotions and the sensations in your body. Why do I feel this way and what
am I listening to and what am I hearing. For kids that have experienced trauma,
and I know for myself, restoring that connection to what is going on took a long
time because they lose that. When we shut down kids and that emotional part of
themselves, they start to lose that awareness, that body awareness. And that is
really creates this ridged, inflexibility in a lot of kids because they
completely lose touch with that. Just hearing about that was such a huge part of
my trauma releasing work thought
Levine and his work. It was noticing those sensations was reconnecting do my
body in that way and being able to process as I was listening to people instead
of numbing out. You know, numbing out when some people might do with
addiction, some people might just do it by shutting down completely. That was
just really interesting to hear that. and such an important part of his
For those that don't know about Peter Levine, he is very interested in the
bodily experience. It's not just useful for trauma, which of course many of us
may not feel traumatized, but we do carry a lot of anxiety. Or we get a little
down more than we need to and life is hard. Or our relationships maybe have a
lot of conflict. The beauty of his work is he is in the body and you know,
really that starts with toddlers in such a big way. Like understanding what it
is to be in their body, what is their body experience. Body experience, is so
fundamental to having any orientation to what is going on and being able to
connect to other people.
The next parenting style is Indulgent Parenting or permissive? Would you like to
jump in on that and describe your thoughts and the role of empathy in this
approach? I think that sometimes a more empathic form of parenting or family
life is seen as indulgent and permissive?
I think the other side of authoritarian parenting. It comes from the same place,
being raised in family where there is a lot of negation of your being or what
you experience and think. And probably a lot of aggression either overtly
experienced through anger and hitting, or not overtly expressed through just
negative looks. I just give them a look and they are in line. There are a lot of
parents that say I never have to hit, I just give them the look. But it's the
same attitude. So some of us are fighters, we will mouth off and fight back and
they call that externalizing and we are problem kids. And some of us are more...
girls are often more this way, we are more passive, we disassociate, we fade
out, we go away, we become passive and we learn to submit and to be passive is
the best way to cope with aggressive situations where we are threatened where we
"I think permissive parenting is just a passive
a submissive response to life, to anything."
So I think permissive parenting is just a passive response, a submissive
response to life, to anything. So you relate to your children the way you
learned to relate in your upbringing. Which for many of us to avoid aggression
and to avoid getting into trouble and being passive and just letting things go,
and not speaking up, was the way we survived.
Wow, I really like that description. I think that makes so much sense because
when I work with parents, I sort of find that that is exactly what happens. They
sort of don't know what to do and they feel overwhelmed and so they just go,
"whatever". And then at some point they might do the opposite. They have gone
"whatever" for so long that they just explode.
And then they are caught between these two exploding or coming down hard
and just letting things go. In some ways I thing there's more empathy there, but
I think it's all so related to our own experiences and how we have worked
through, or perhaps not all the way worked through them, to figure out how to
have a voice. I really like that description, it makes so much
Definitely it is the other end of the spectrum there in terms of authoritarian.
I also agree and I love the way it is not just about wanting to give your kids
too much it's about not knowing how to cope and that really is your way of
coping. I think I have a lot of parents that come to me and they will give in
because they don't know what to do if they are not yelling or punishing. And to
stop the crying or to stop the wining or the begging, or whatever is coming our
of their child that they cannot tolerate. They need to find something to do.
They need to find a way. Those parenting styles that we call them, are just the
adult way of coping with what is going on in the situation. And indulgent
parenting I think it gets, well people say, "If you are not punishing, then you
We really can set boundaries without being unkind, and we can do it without
being aggressive or reactive. Just in the same way that we can not set those
boundaries, we can be kindly indulgent and it's not going to be any better for
our children. But conscious parenting, empathic parenting should not be equated
with indulgence or permissiveness. It is often, but that is because people don't
really understand that we are not going to be just addressing behaviour, we are
going for the root causes. Sometimes that looks like we are ignoring the
behaviour, and if we can help people to understand that we just want to go a
little bit deeper and that doing deeper give you sustainable discipline.
I know a lot of people don't like that word, discipline. But for me it is about
giving people sustainable tools. Tools that have long term impact. For me,
authoritarian, indulgent or whatever, they all have short term benefits maybe.
Because we get the behaviour to shift in the moment but it still effects the
long term ability or our children of our children to cope, manage or whatever it
"For me, authoritarian, indulgent or whatever,
they all have short term benefits maybe. "
I agree. A lot of families we work with who are permissive now, didn't start
that way when they describe how they envisioned parenting and how it actually
played out. When parents have a challenging child who has a big behaviour that
is what they do to just get it to stop, like Lori said. What we like to do is
help parents see that there is a middle, there is a way to have expectations and
to pursue those expectations. That doesn't have the likelihood of increasing
behaviour and in fact over time decrease it. The light bulb goes on like,
'wow' help me understand that.
We also work with schools who come across permissive parents to plan the seed
that maybe that is not how they want to be. And maybe they just don't know
what else to do. So that they can see their role as working with parents if they
know something else to do to work with them from that respective and not blame
them. That parent doesn't care enough to set limits. That is not the case in
most of the families we work with. They care a lot they just don't know what
else to do.
"And maybe they just don't know what else to do."
A lot of the influences the we will be talking about in another panel in media,
a lot of places that folks turn to, to learn parenting, just tell them to do
more of the same authoritarian stuff. They are saying, I have tried that, I've
been very creative in my punishing and it's actually made things worse so they
actually don't know what else to do. So they stop perusing expectations.
Another style I see here is Neglectful Parenting or Uninvolved. Does that
overlap with permissive or is it something else?
I think it's pretty different. I like how
Alfi Choen talks about this and I think he talked with you about it Robbyn
in an interview. Based on his book called The Myth of the Spoiled Child.
He says there is a clear difference between an indulgent or permissive parent or
an parent who is totally uninvolved. The uninvolved parent is the one who is
doing their own thing and doesn't know what is going on. And again it is not
necessarily because they don't' want to or maybe because they are overwhelmed
with life. They are at work and they can't even think about checking in on their
child for whatever reason because they have other things going on. Which I think
is different from the permissive or the indulgent parent because they want to be
involved and they don't know what to do and they are overwhelmed and they are
So it's almost in my mind anyway, and I can't say it as eloquently as Alfi Choen
would probably say it, clearly and strongly, that the difference I think as
trying to be involved and doesn't know what to do and the other is absent.
It's like an absent parent. I think there is room for all of us to have empathy
for all of these parents who are struggling, whether they are permissive,
indulgent, authoritative, authoritarian or absent.
is room for all of us to have empathy for all of these
parents who are struggling, whether they are
permissive, indulgent, authoritative,
authoritarian or absent. "
I was going to say that neglectful can also be the parent who is giving their
kid everything, but emotionally they don't see it. They think giving them
classes and making sure they have the nice cloths, and making sure they have
that they look good to the outside can overtake and then they completely forget
to check in. Their child may come home with sort of a down look and they don't
say hay how are you, are you ok. They just say "oh your snacks on the kitchen
table, be sure you do your homework and get ready for sports". They sort of
check out emotionally but that doesn't mean that they are checked out totally.
Whereas a permissive parent maybe totally checked out too.
So there is obviously is a spectrum. And what Amy said about that support, when
we stop labeling ourselves and when we stop sort of classifying these habits and
these patterns that we have gotten into we can then start to come together and
When we stop pointing fingers and saying, "Oh, she's permissive and he is
authoritarian, we can then look to parents deeper needs and when we can show
them that we care about them and we are not criticizing and judging. Because I
think so many parents fall into these habitual patterns because there is a lot
of judgment out there in society of not just the kids but of what parents are
doing and they don't want to look like they are the parent that's going to have
the kid that falls through the cracks, so the kid that's going to cause some
disruption and negative behaviors and all that kind of thing.
I think there is a spectrum of all these labels that we have that if we can come
together and really support parents we can change the family structure in a way
that we relate to each other. The way that we think it is supposed
to be, that we are supposed to be relating to each other.
So actually get away from this label which we are doing here and empathize with
empathize with every form of parenting and say that every approach that someone
is using we can empathize with them and see that the needs are underneath there.
I really enjoyed about parents having empathy for themselves. I think that is
really important because I was thinking that when you were bringing up blaming
of parents of all types. I think there was a school system who wanted to fine
parents for their children's behaviour at school. There is some really entranced
blaming going on. I'm not sure that parents are going to demonstrate
empathy for their kids if they are feeling that weight on them. I appreciated
that comment as well as many others. But that really stood out for me.
"I really enjoyed about parents having empathy for themselves.
I think that is really important"
I appreciate this entire panel discussion. I think, we all have very similar
approaches to children and it's very much about empathy for children and child
advocacy. But also empathy for parents because we were all children who perhaps
were not parented perfectly because our parents were not parented perfectly and
their parents were not parented perfectly. So I think this is an exciting
discussion, the whole entire thing.
"...we all have very similar approaches to children and
it's very much about empathy for children and
child advocacy. But also empathy for parents... "
I agree, I enjoyed it very much. I think that when we can restore the family
unit. I'm not saying it's not whole but it's very fractured and I believe we are
filling in those cracks and shoring up our foundation. And giving people a voice
is so important and empathy is the crux of all of that. Being able to say, I
hear and understand you is life changing. It's been life changing for me.
And I love that we all come from different perspectives and we have licensed
clinical people that know their stuff and then for me I really, as a teacher and
parent educator, for me I come to this work as a misunderstood kid and that just
fuels my desire to help parents. Not just restore that relationship, but the
relationship with themselves as well.
"giving people a voice is so important and empathy is the crux
of all of that. Being able to say, I hear and understand you is
life changing. It's been life changing for me. "
I think the idea of empathy is that I feel you, I feel what it is to be you.
When I hear Lori about your own experience it's like I'm in there and I'm
feeling it. I know when someone feels me and I just relax and life is better.
And it just doesn't hurt as much and I think what we are healing here is the
disconnectedness that we have as a tribe. It's not just about parents, it's
about our whole tribe, it's about giving connection and love to the whole tribe
so that we can just take a breath and know we are going to be ok. Because we
have each other and we are not alone.
"it's about our whole tribe, it's about giving
and love to the whole tribe"
I feel a little remise since there were a couple of styles we didn't cover like
attachment parenting, nurturant parenting, empathic parenting, etc. We ran out
of time but we are going to be doing a whole series of panels and I hope we can
cover those in future panels.
The main thing I feel is that if we are doing empathic family and an empathic
way of being. It means to empathize with everyone and the means are the end. So
it's not about judging any parenting style but that by empathizing that we model
that way of being.
"It means to empathize with everyone
and the means are the ends."
Thank you all.