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Respectful Parenting

“Respectful parenting” is a very specific term.

The truest definition for it would be to say that it’s about respecting the child’s brain development and respecting their autonomy.

It’s really not so much about being “polite”.

I mean it’s nice to be polite but unless you were raised in a VERY polite home- you’re going to not be very “polite” to people you’re super comfortable with... aka your kids and spouse. You’re GOING to lose it with them every once in a while. That’s just dysregulation and not a big deal.

For example, I grew up in a very typically Punjabi home. If you’re Pakistani then you know that Punjabis are notorious for being a bit crude. I’m not a fan of stereotypes BUT my family.. from both sides... is pretty loud and um... not “polite” 😉 though I grew up with my chachas (uncles) and daadi (grandma) and I can tell you that I felt VERY VERY loved and seen by them.

Their “impolite” tone didn’t overshadow the love they clearly had for me. It was overpowering to the exclusion of all else.

In fact, my daadi (may Allah grant her the highest place in jannah), had the crudest sense of humor! I mean it seemed funny to me when she yelled at me at times because she used funny metaphors.

When she wasn’t mad at me, she’d say, “Tum tou shehzaadi ho.” (“You’re a princess”) Her love was unconditionally pure and unadulterated. She really looked at me as if I WAS a princess. As far as she was concerned I could do no wrong. But sometimes , like I said above, she did get mad at me and yelled at me, I never thought twice about it.

All this to say... yelling in and of itself is really not that terrible. And if you rarely yell... good for you! For me, that IS my natural programming/conditioning.

In my weakest moments I definitely revert to my loud and crass self. It’s a part of my identity... as a Punjabi... I feel like it’s my legacy! I’m loud and passionate!

And all of this isn’t to say that I’m not always working on yelling less... I am. I’m forever working on my emotional regulation. In fact, there are so many times when I pat myself on the back because I KNOW I’d have yelled at this very moment in the past. I take a moment to say alhamdulilah and be proud of myself.

But if I had STARTED with reducing my yelling.. or if I had STARTED with trying to eliminate it... I’d have failed miserably and then I’d be feeling like crap.

So I started with what felt easier for me... using different words and language. Even that didn’t feel easy at first but it was doable. It was a script and I followed it. The yelling still kept happening and I kept forgiving myself and forgiving myself... until I started to notice it’s getting less and less.

That’s how I realized that simply forgiving myself and moving on quickly from “fails” is the way forward.. that if that’s what I do... I’ll progress more انشاللہ and I did.

All this to say, it’s not helpful to reduce respectful parenting to the tone of your voice. I can’t tell you how many people tell me their parents never yelled at them and STILL managed to cause intense pain and trauma to them. That’s because you can keep a “polite” tone and still cause a lot of hurt if you’re reacting without mindfulness and compassion.

Its way more important to choose our words carefully. To not accuse our children, or make them feel small or to dismiss their feelings. To continue to give them the benefit of the doubt. To view them in a positive light and believe the best of them. To love them unconditionally even when they screw up... especially when they screw up.

And I’ll end with something Eisa said to me one day. He said, “Mama, I’m so lucky to have a mama like you... I love the way you talk to us.”

And I, in typical mom style, doubting myself said, “Really? Cuz I think sometimes I yell.. I wish I never did.”

Him: “Well, everyone does that when they’re upset sometimes. It’s ok. You’re still the best mama ever.”

The good reviews keep us going, huh?!

So this isn’t so much a license for yelling... it’s a license to forgive yourself. To ALLOW yourself to make mistakes and be ok with them and THEN see how you grow 💗💗💗💗

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