Someone asked me the other day, “What is neurological parenting?“. They asked because there is so much out there on parenting; so many dos, so many don’ts, so many right ways, and so many wrong ways. It’s interesting to me that we are oversaturated with opinions in an area which most people fail to adequately explain or discuss. I believe this is because the heart of all parenting is relational and that has many factors. There isn’t a more intense role that we will ever have than parenting, and believing that changes when they grow up is simply not true. The magnitude of this bond and attachment means our children pull on us and affect us so much more than we could have imagined.
Having worked with families for years I have noticed one thing: many give themselves to the parenting role only to find themselves worn out or that it wasn’t what they had imagined.
They create an expectation of needing to be the model parent and work tirelessly to achieve that goal. And yet, when you ask them some heart centred questions, you see that how they parented was without the heart.
Simple questions like: “What do you love about your child?“, leaves them uncomfortable because often they have been so busy performing that they lost sight of who they were with. Or this question: “What does that look like in parenting?“. It often looks like conditions and compliance. That sounds like, “I did this for you, therefore you need to do that for me” or, “You have to do it because I told you and I am the parent“. Relationships become about task and achievement. It goes really well when your children are achieving, and it’s an absolute nightmare when they’re not.
But when you meet those who have thrived as parents, you see their heart so involved. When you ask them about their kids, they tell you something they love about them or what they are most proud of, all with a tear in their eye. So what is the difference? And how do we find a place for each person (both parents and children) to thrive in a family? I believe it is found in engagement and trust.
When we move from compliance with children to engagement, we move into a realm of trust; trust that we are enough, that time is enough and that together is much better than apart.
So what keeps us from the realm of engagement? It’s fear, anxiety and stress. These are the three factors that keep us from one another. We live with a sense of too much to do and not enough time. We live with the dread of, “What will the teacher say when we are a few minutes late to school?“. We live with blaming one another simply because we haven’t learnt to engage. We haven’t learnt to stop and truly hear one another and we haven’t learnt how to hold one another in the place of worth that we were created for.
Neurological parenting, with a foundation in engagement, releases serotonin in the brain because each person, parent and child, experiences the value and significance of who they are within the family. A sense of togetherness releases dopamine because together we can achieve more than separate. Joy is found in the moments, releasing endorphins as we laugh together. Oxytocin when we touch and cuddle one another.
Neurological parenting is social parenting because the heart of being human is social connection.