Today, I am happy to share the wonderful interview I did with Eric D. Greene of 1 Awesome Dad. Eric believes that to love children and treat then with respect, we need to do the same with ourselves. When I first saw his Facebook page, I thought that being called “awesome dad” would be a lot of pressure! But then I understood why he chose that name. We *are* awesome and so are our kids. Eric D. Greene is the peaceful parenting dad to a 4 year old boy, and a husband of 8 years. You can follow Eric on his website, 1AwesomeDad.com, on Facebook and Twitter. Eric is also the host of the Peaceful Parenting Podcast, which begins this month!
Joanna Steven: If you had to define peaceful parenting in a sentence or two, what would you say?
Eric D. Greene: Peaceful parenting is about working cooperatively with your children, rather than in opposition to them. The emphasis is on helping, supporting, guiding and encouraging, rather than arguing, yelling, spanking, punishing and shaming. Instead of combating against children, making demands, judging and getting aggressive with them, peaceful parents strive to work with their children, making gentle corrections and suggestions, and accepting and appreciating who they are, while peacefully setting limits on inappropriate or unacceptable behavior.
Joanna Steven: You meet a parent interested in peaceful parenting. List 2-3 baby steps to help them move away from mainstream patterning.
Eric D. Greene: One baby step is to start reading and researching. Read some books, join Internet forums, ask questions and get involved in discussions. There can be a lot of enlightening research and ideas at first, which is an important step to getting on board and making more of a commitment to it.
Another small step would be to work on strengthening the relationship with their children. One of the key principles of peaceful parenting is building a strong connection between parent and child. The idea is that the stronger the connection, the better kids learn and feel confident in themselves. The relationship can be strengthened by having one-on-one time more often, by listening more closely to children’s opinions and interests, or by expressing love and appreciation for children more often.
A third step I would suggest is to practice having more empathy. So instead of battling back when a child becomes argumentative or refuses to do something asked of them, being empathetic would just be to say “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I need you to do this now”. Just the act of acknowledging the feelings that the child has can go a long way towards cooperating and doing unwanted tasks.
Joanna Steven: Peaceful parenting isn’t always easy. List 1 or 2 challenges you faced as a new parent while trying to parent peacefully, and how you overcame them.
Eric D. Greene: My parenting philosophy is that modeling the behavior you want to see in your children is much more powerful than anything you say or demand. That means if I want the best for my son, I have to become the best version of myself I possibly can be, and that has presented plenty of challenges. Such as eating better, getting into shape, and having a more positive and optimistic outlook on life.
The way I’ve overcome these personal challenges has been to continually remind myself of the importance of modeling the best possible example, and to do it for my son’s benefit. Giving him the best possible chance at happiness in success in life means giving myself the best possible chance at happiness and success in life.
Joanna Steven: Often, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel! List one parenting book that influenced you and that you’d recommend to others.
Eric D. Greene: Early on as a parent I felt very aware of the importance of treating my son with respect and dignity, and of not yelling at him and not spanking. But I had little support system in that. My wife agreed with me, and she and I were nearly all we had, outside of a handful of people who also agreed with this peaceful style of parenting.
One book I found early on and which gave me a tremendous amount of encouragement, as well as new ideas and strategies I wasn’t yet familiar with, was Dr Laura Markham’s book Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. That book was a lifeline for me. I often turned to it, not only to learn new strategies, but as backup and validation on issues I felt strongly about, such as not spanking or using any physical force. That is one book I consider a must-have in the home of any peaceful parent.
A couple other excellent books I feel must be mentioned are Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn and The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children by Dr. Shefali Tsabary.
Joanna Steven: Name 1 or 2 people who inspire you to be a peaceful parent. Famous or not!
Eric D. Greene: My son is the person who inspires me the most to be a peaceful parent. Because I want the best for him, and being a peaceful parent is, in my view, giving him the best.
I am also inspired by my late grandmother, also known as “Nana”. She was the one person in my life who always accepted me, always saw greatness in me, never judging, never criticizing, always appreciating. I always felt so good around her as a child. I felt confident and proud of myself when I was with her. Looking back I can see how important she was for me. I would like for my son to feel just as proud and loved and confident in himself when he is with me.
Joanna Steven: Parenting is easier when you’re happy! List 2-3 things that bring joy to your parenting journey.
Eric D. Greene: For me it’s the little things. The hug that my son and I give each other first thing in the morning. Doing a puzzle or going for a bike ride together. Watching him grow every day and become this amazing and independent person with his own likes and dislikes, his own interests and his own strengths and weaknesses. I even take a certain measure of joy in the toys strewn across the living room floor or his shoes left out somewhere instead of having been put away. I take joy in it all, in the journey itself. I never view parenting as a burden or as something unwanted or wishing I could escape from. It’s the best experience of my lifetime and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You will find a list of all the interviews in the Peaceful Parenting series here.