The Yin Yang and Parenting
When I taught sixth grade the children in the class would call the Chinese symbol for polar opposites “The Yin Yang”. I don’t think they really knew much about its meaning or purpose but they enjoyed drawing and playing with the symbol. When I am working with parents or doing Parent Effectiveness Training, I often use the symbol as a model for effective parenting. It is my belief that we all need some degree of structure in our lives. In addition I also believe that we also need some sense of self- understanding and self- compassion. How do we develop these qualities within ourselves? When encouraging parents to provide structure for children I like to use the words “gentle structure”. Self compassion is a tricky term and can be frequently misunderstood. It is likely that when we offer structure and understanding to our children in a gentle, kind and caring manner they will learn to internalize this structure and develop more compassion for others. If we are harsh and unkind as we provide structure this may not be internalized by our children. Of course we need at times to implement consequences for rule-breaking. When we do this we need to understand that we are providing consequences which are in the best interest of our child and we are not reacting emotionally to satisfy our own anger or desire to retaliate for being injured or hurt from their actions. I suggest that we use the least amount of structure or leverage which will provide a disincentive. In other words use the least amount of leverage which will get the job done. Can you picture a “Yin Yang” (The symbol of polar opposites that creates harmony) with structure on one side and understanding on the other? One without the other will likely serve little purpose.