Simplified Parenting

Why Less Means More Happiness

by Deborah Shouse

Parents wishing to simplify child-raising seek less stress and more fun; less scheduling and more casual time; less “shoulds” and more “want-tos” less second-guessing and more confidence.


or a happier family life, experts encourage parents to stay true to their own values, strengths and sense of

family purpose, focusing on the wonders of their children instead of endless daily tasks. It begins with each child feeling loved.

Learn Love Languages For Gary Chapman, Ph. D., author of Te 5 Love Languages of Children: Te Secret to Loving Children Effectively, understanding each child’s particular needs for touch, affirming words, quality time, giſts or acts of service is foundational to parenting suc- cess. “Other than security, a child’s deepest need is to feel loved,” says Chapman, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “If their love tank is full, children grow up emo- tionally healthy. Knowing a child’s pre- ferred language helps parents effectively communicate their feelings. Te question is not, ‘Do you love your children?’ It’s,

‘Do your children feel loved?’” As Chapman arrives home, his son

rushes to hug him, grinning while his dad tousles his hair. Chapman’s daughter oſten

calls out, “Dad, come into my room. I want to show you something.” Tis is how he communicates with each child in their primary love language. Parents learn their children’s preferred

communication style by observing their behavior, noticing how they express love and listening to them. Tey can also offer

options and track results. For example: n Would you like to take the dog to the park (quality time) or for me to help you

study for a test (acts of service)? n Would you like to wrestle (touch) or

shop for your new shoes (giſt)? “Ideally, we offer heavy doses of the

child’s primary language and sprinkle in the others,” says Chapman. “Children who feel loved respond better to suggestions and discipline. Tey also learn how to

express their feelings.”

Avoid Unreal Idealizing Some parents carry a mental snapshot of their ideal child, perhaps envisioning a kid that is into sports or even-tempered or aca- demically giſted. Oſten, that picture is very different from the actual child. Te first step to truly accepting the

child is to allow ourselves to feel whatever authentic feelings pop up. Te parent might think, “I love my son, but am struggling; I adore sports and may never get to share that with him.” “Give yourself time to process disap-

pointment,” advises Susan Stiffelman, a Los Angeles marriage and family therapist, mother of one and author of Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected. “Ten identify the things you love about your kids and share those with them.” As just one example, we might convey that we love the sound of their voice and how gentle they are with the baby.

Simply Raising Children Resources A Fine Parent, blog, Sumitha Bhandarkar, Edit Your Life, podcast, Asha Dornfest,

The book Parent Hacks:134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids, by Asha Dornfest August 2018 27


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