The books I have are: Emotionally Intelligent Parenting by Elias, Tobias, and Friedlander, Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman, Emotional Alchemy by Tara Bennett-Goleman, and Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. Now of course I did not read them all because there was no way I could take my mind off of the election. I did read the Gottman book though and found it interesting, but also upsetting at the same time. I appear to know how to be emotionally intelligent but I often fail to do so.
According to Gottman, there are four parenting styles: Dismissive, Disapproving, Laissez-Faire, and Emotion Coach. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I fit pretty well into the first two. Not all of the time of course, but certainly when I am under stress or agitated. There is a quiz in the book to try to determine which sort of parenting style you fit. I scored highest on Emotion Coach but my scores for Dismissive and Disapproving when added together were only slightly lower than Emotion Coach. I took this to mean that only half the time I was getting it right. I also realized that I am more dismissive with Robotson and disapproving of the girls.
From Talaris: Parenting Styles
"...often view their own emotions as voluntary, as something they choose to feel. These parents then view their child's emotions in the same light. When a child experiences a negative emotion, the solution seems simple: the child should simply decide to have a more positive emotion. In addition, emotion-dismissing adults tend to think of negative emotions as toxic, as if these feelings should be avoided. If a child experiences a negative emotion, they will do anything to move the child out of the negative emotional state, including distraction, tickling, eating, and so on.
Such parents are not insensitive to their children’s emotions. They see them happening and want to be helpful and protective, but they are not sure what to do. Because they are uncomfortable with their own emotions, they remain uncomfortable with their child's feelings. For them, dismissing the emotion, minimizing it by saying “it’s not that bad” or distracting the child with something new, may seem like the best option."
"...basically view emotions as a matter of choice. In this view, if children feel a certain way, it's because they want to feel that way. And if emotions are seen as negative, the obvious solution is to make children stop wanting to feel that way.You can see why it's a little embarrassing to admit to being this sort of parent. I certainly never would have thought I was until I took the quizzes and paid more attention to how I was responding to the kids. I do feel like the book describes the styles a little better than this particular website. Some examples of the type of things I might do are:
The Disapproving Parenting Style doesn't just dismiss emotions, or leave them alone without guidance. It actively attempts to suppress them. Those who practice this style are openly critical of their children's feelings. When asked to describe children's emotional experiences, they seem to lack some basic connection or empathy. It's not that they're bad parents, and it's not that they lack love and support and concern for their children. Rather, these adults subscribe to a basic set of beliefs that are the wrong way to look at emotions"
-Think (and sometimes say) that their lives are not that tough. Since I know that things could be so much worse, and they don't seem to appreciate it, then their reactions are way over the top. (Dismissive)
-Worry a lot about how any emotional outburst they have will prove what a bad parent I am (Dismissive)
-Try to get them to just stop, right now (for any number of reasons that parents want their kids to stop being emotional) (Dismissive)
-I might punish them for being (in my opinion) overly emotional (Disapproving)
-Have power struggles because I worried that I was being manipulated (Disapproving)
-Worry that the kids weren't "normal" because of their emotions (Disapproving)
The good news of course is that I recognize the need for a change and I have started to implement it. When I do take the time to acknowledge their emotions and help name them, the differences are amazing. I have changed dozens of typical scenarios in our house in just the past two weeks. I am loving it but there is no doubt it is much harder. It's especially difficult when everything happens at once. I don't know who to try to help first but I am starting to realize that I should probably focus on me first. If I don't label and deal with my emotion, how can I do it with the kids? Another issue is trying to help B understand how to handle these situations since he hasn't read the book yet. It's a lot harder to calm things down when we've given the inappropriate response first and then are trying to fix two things. B and I also need to be better with each other. We've gotten into bad habits in our relationship that need to be corrected not only for us, but for the kids.
In Part 2 I'm thinking about why I have such a hard time recognizing the emotions and working through them in myself. Then I have some examples of how I would have handled a situation before and what I am doing now. Also, how making these changes feels and where I am still lacking.