Saturday, January 16, 2010


I took this in Korea, when there was a different sort of shift in my life

When I was in University a term came up over and over, Paradigm Shift. I was constantly being pushed by one professor to shift my view, my outlook, my paradigm. It was new language for me, language that I did not understand at first but that I developed understanding for. I like the word to this day, it is a good word, a useful word

Pronunciation: \ˈper-ə-ˌdīm, ˈpa-rə- also -ˌdim\

Function: noun
Etymology: Late Latin paradigma, from Greek paradeigma, from paradeiknynai to show side by side, from para- + deiknynai to show — more at diction
Date: 15th century
1 : example, pattern; especially : an outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype
2 : an example of a conjugation or declension showing a word in all its inflectional forms
3 : a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated; broadly : a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind
- from Merriam Webster

My paradigm has shifted over the years but today I want to discuss my parenting paradigm. You know, who I am as a Mama to my monkeys. My parenting has shifted a lot over the last year and half, I started out thinking that I could do this parenting gig with one hand tied behind my back. I mean I was a nanny for years and then a teacher, I knew how to be a parent. I could be a great Mama to these boys because really all they needed was structure, parents who were going to stick around and love. Right.


I think it took about six weeks before I realised that I was in over my head. It took six weeks because that is how long the honeymoon lasted with Calvin ( Fudge’s honeymoon was longer). After about 10 weeks I realised that none of the regular parenting stuff was going to work, I could not give this child a consequence and expect that he would learn from it, heck, I could not even leave him unattended in a time out because God only knows what he would get up to.

Calvin had been on the waiting list for therapy at the local Children’s Mental Health Agency, he had a spot but we were waiting for him to settle in a little more at home before we started, knowing that it may do more harm then good. After the honeymoon ended we were quickly aware that we were in over our heads and that we needed some help if we were going to make it with these two boys.

After a bit of a rocky start, therapy got going and although I did not see any changes in my son, in fact he got a whole lot more challenging before he began to change at all. Around session three I was handed a book that shifted my paradigm and helped me begin to understand that traditional parenting techniques were not going to work with my children. Calvin’s therapist did not hand me an instruction manual or book of answers, instead she handed me Beyond Consequences by Heather Forbes. I brought it home and started to read, it quickly taught me that Calvin was living in state of fear and that fear was dictating his every move.

I had not thought of that before, I mean how could child who had lived the life my son had lived not be in state of fear. He had every right to be afraid and to not trust the world to keep him safe. Reading the book helped me make sense of what was going on for my son, it helped me to realise that there were some concrete things that I could do to help him feel safe and learn to love. I started trying some of the techniques in the book and slowly started to see results.

18 months later Calvin and Fudge do not live in home that is free of consequences when they make bad choices, however they do live in a family where their behaviour is understood and where their parents do their best to stay calm and regulated when dealing with their behaviour that ultimately comes from the fear of abandonment that resides deeply within both of our sons..

For the next 10 weeks I will be writing an article once a week on the theories that you can find in Beyond Consequences Volumes 1 and 2. Heather is offering a online parenting course that elaborate on her book and I am lucky enough to be participating. If you are interested in participating you can find more information on her website.

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