Attentive Parenting

The term "attentive parenting" was used in a discussion in July 2008. I'm not recommending it as a "new term" or a replacement for anything. I've brought some things to group together here, though. There are writings already on the site about parents being conscious of their children's needs:

Mindfulness/Mindful Mothering Parenting Peacefully Mindful Parenting (Joyce) Mindful Parenting (Ren and Sandra)


Ren Allen wrote (July 9, Always Learning):

Then I would really, truly listen to what they were upset about. "You really wanted the crisps?" and let them explain their frustration. Whether or not you can make the desire happen, that child needs to be heard and understood more than anything.

In the future, you could recognize what makes that person feel helpless or frustrated and take measures to avoid it.

Pam Sorooshian affirmed and expanded:
I want to emphasize again what Ren said and point out that what we're advocating is paying very very close attention to our children—the opposite of what people usually think of as "permissive" parenting. This could be called "Attentive Parenting"—observe, learn all you can about your children, listen carefully to them, anticipate their wants and needs, strive to be their partner—their adult partner who knows a lot and has a lot of resources and is THERE for them. Help them be the best they can be. That's what THEY want and it is also what you want and it is what creates lots of joy in life.

Think about how you feel when you are "out of sorts." What will help you? What do you want from your family? I doubt it would help you for your husband to threaten, "If you behave badly again I'm going to take away your cell phone." You WANT to feel better, happier, nicer, right? What you need is support for doing what you, deep down, want for yourself. Same with your kids. Lots of times that means to help them have the chance to be alone to recenter themselves. I like to take a hot shower or go running or get deeply lost in a good book. Sometimes I can adjust my mood by reading email (or browsing around on Sandra or Joyce's websites). Your kids don't KNOW yet what helps them—your role is to help them figure it out. Threatening them with taking things away is not helpful—it ADDS to their stress and makes them feel unloved on top of everything else. How can that be a good idea?

Deb Rossing, on Unschooling Basics, July 9, 2008:
As many have said over much time and many threads, go easy. Don't pull the rug out from under everyone—it just gets messy. Instead, just say Yes more; say Why not? Instead of No; think through that first reaction—what is your reason for saying No to that, is it a real thing (based in some real situation such as No hitting your sibling) or is it a leftover tape of Mom has to be in control at all times and they have to learn that they don't always get their own way?

And, too, when a No arises (as in I'm sorry but I can't make a banana smoothie because we're out of bananas), find a Yes in it - (...but I can write bananas on the grocery list right now so I don't forget and I'll be going shopping in two days when it's pay day. Or, No, we can't get to the beach today, the car is broken. How about we have a picnic lunch outside and then play in the sprinkler in the back yard? And, if you don't have a sprinkler or a backyard, a living room picnic and maybe getting in the shower with your clothes on would be silly fun)

Bottom line is look for ways to be a helpful partner to your kids—you've got the car keys and the money, you can facilitate their exploration of the world...or not, your choice—rather than being their adversary enforcing your view on them rather than helping them embrace their own view of the world.

Mindfulness/Mindful Mothering Parenting Peacefully Mindful Parenting (Joyce) Mindful Parenting (Ren and Sandra)