Let me explain. 'Mama Marschik Ways' are 10 things that I have learned over my lifetime as a child and teen, living in a home that was a group home for foster children, combined with my own parenting experience and coupled with my professional training.
These are things any parent can do to add value to their parenting experience, no matter your background. These 10 things will be published in a book I am writing, but for now, let me share a couple here for the purpose of inciting conversation or discussion. Please feel free to comment.
# 1 Be Prepared
Anything and everything can and will happen in life, and when raising children. The better your skills at being prepared, the better you will be able to prevent things from getting out of control at those time, as well as, the better you (as a parent) will be able to react calmly during an unplanned event. The idea that you would prefer to act calmly vs yelling, screaming, throwing things, or crying, is a presumption (and not always possible), however, this presumption is based on the fact that calmness, even with crisis or unexpected things, creates less anxiety for you and your children. When you are "out-of-control", your child feels that lack of security.
Think about a long drive or trip during the winter. You usually pack more than you need and bring extra things "just in case". Now, let's imagine parenting (or life) is a long trip, a long journey (which actually it kind of is). Similar to the road trip, you are guessing what might go wrong, and planning for it. You still set rules, have expectations and make plans, but just like on your drive, you know anything could happen. This puts you as the parent in the mindset that you are ready for deviations when they arise.
Going though life unprepared or even pretending that certain things will not happen in your home or your family, or expecting that your child would never do this or that thing is not helpful when parenting. Being prepared asks parents to do two things: 1) to NOT be attached to the outcome of what happens and 2) be aware that you and your children will come short of your expectation(s) at the least expected time. This does NOT mean that you should allow "whatever" or not set boundaries, but it means that you are ready to respond when these things arise. It also means, you do not have to scream or belittle. Instead, you let go and proceed calmly.
#2 Have Their Back
No matter what does happen in life, what we need to strive for in a family is to have each other’s back, without any concern of ‘what others will think’. The part about not being concerned what others think, is critical to both remaining calm, as well as, NOT pretending something did not happen. Some families have "elephants in the room" or things they do not talk about/pretend do not exist, and avoiding these "elephants" or secrets is another one of 'Mama Marschik Ways'. However, let's stick to the topic. Having your child's back means you will love them no matter what, while still teaching and dealing with whatever has happened. This is unconditional love.
The idea of unconditional love, which we infrequently experience, is worth thoughtful conversation and thoughtful action. Do we really believe that our child wants to disappoint us, embarrass us, or make us mad and frustrated, or it this young human being trying to understand how to be who they are and respond to their environment? Let's assume, barring grave variances, that mostly what kids do is NOT about us as parents. Mostly, it is about them trying to learn to make decisions, think for themselves, figure out what they enjoy, and so on. When we take that personally as an embarrassment for us or "not what we would do", we are NOT loving unconditionally. Instead, we are telling our child with our words and actions that we don't love them as they are, and we will only love them if they meet our expectations. Each time that happens, we cause a little hurt that is unnecessary. More importantly, it can cause larger problems in the future.
Subscribe to this website or watch for the blog when the book is published. In the meantime, feel free contact The Center of Love and Acceptance with any questions or specific situations you want to discuss.