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Positive Parenting

The art and science of raising our children is among the most complex, and certainly the most important, facets of the human experience. Given the stakes and the tremendous breadth of possible cultural circumstances, it's virtually impossible to generalize or even land on solid ground about what approaches and parenting techniques work best. But there are time-tested principles and fundamental wisdom that holds true in any situation, and one of them is that, without exception, children raised in homes filled with positive energy - that is to say, the people surrounding them are generally positive in their outlook, mood and world view - are not only happier and healthier, they stand a much greater chance at success and happiness later in life. And no matter who the parents are and what culture they belong to, positive or not, this is something they wish for their children to have.

Why then, aren't all parents the glowingly positive role models that they need to be to make this happen for their children? When it comes to issues of emotional health, addiction, marital problems, unemployment and other adult challenges, the question is rendered moot - the adult isn't capable of being a positive role model until they fix their own lives. They may try, but a "positive environment" and "positive energy" refer to more than hugs and grins. Kids are not stupid, they assign meaning to what they see around them, and they emulate what they see.

But not all adults are challenged by the dark side. And yet, children continue to be exposed to parents who argue constantly, who indulge in negative behaviors - too much drinking, drugs, smoking, profanity, prejudice - as well as the simple assessment that their parents seem to constantly be in a mad mood. They are quiet and sullen, hyper-critical of others, generally pessimistic about life. They are victims. How many times have we seen an impatient mother in a store or parking lot screaming at her kids and pulling them around by the ear? We don't feel sorry for her, we feel for the child. She's not necessarily a bad mother, but in that moment she's certainly not a positive one. The kids aren't to blame, most of the time their behavior and negative energy is nothing more than a reflection of the energy around them.

Positive parents are constantly aware of how they are perceived by their children. They know that what their kids witness, hear and interpret will be assigned meaning and value, that this becomes their lens through which their kids will view the world. Sometimes that lens becomes fogged by the parent's own warped world view; it can take years for a young person to understand that the real world isn't the loud, harsh one created in their childhood home by their parents. From this awareness comes a choice, one that permeates every moment of the parenting experience, even during discipline and other tough discussions.

Positive parents teach their children that anything is possible. They teach them to try things, and to learn from failure. They teach their children to understand the relationship cause and effect between behaviors and consequences. They show them how to deal with the dark things they see in the world, that they have control over what they feel and do, and that their attitudes are the first step in a set of dominos that will create very tangible results in their lives. Energy, even relational and emotional energy, is polar in nature - it is drawn to its own kind. With parenting, positive begets positive, which makes it clear where the fostering of energy begins for a child.

The first statements about life that are written on the blank page of a child's soul are authored by that child's parents. The best ones approach that page with care and an enlightened understanding. What they write there over the child-rearing years is full of love, sometimes tough, but always positive.

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