Friday, September 5, 2014

ONE of My Parenting Flaws

Let me share one of my favorite concepts in working with people (parenting, teaching, youth-pasturing).

Non-Anxious Presence: The ability to remain calm when the situation and/or person you are interacting with has lost or losing their calm.  (This is a very condensed definition, gathered from a lot of sources and a key element in the concept of self-differentiation). 

As an adult, working with people and other people's students, I do a pretty good job of non-anxious presence-ing

As a parent, when it is my own people and student, my non-anxious presence-ing needs a little work. 

Anybody with me out here?

There is something about your own people and student that ramps up the anxiety levels.  Even so, if not managed, one will parent out of fear and rigidness instead of confidence and flexibility. 

So, if you are like me and need help with your non-anxious presence parenting skill, try one of these. 

  • Let Emotions Settle.  Before entering into a potentially heated conversation with your student, take a break, breath deep and settle.  Yes, there are emergencies, but most difficult conversations can wait until both parent and student emotions settle.
  • Make and Have a Plan.  Before the conversation, talk with your spouse (or trusted adult) about the situation and brainstorm ideas for engagement.  Emotions can quickly escalate in the simplest of conversations. Have a plan.
  • Take a Break.  The first two suggestions are easier done when NOT in the middle of a tense (nice word for arguing) moment.  If you find yourself in an emotional battle with your student, no one wins and things can be said that damage a relationship (remember fear and rigidness replaces confidence and flexibility in parenting when anxiety level rise ).  Take a break.  Develop a code word for either you or your student to say in order to withdraw and let the emotions settle.   With that in mind, remember that a break does not mean avoidance of conversation!
I hope you enjoyed a look into ONE of my parenting flaws.  Now, let's all breath deep...let it out...and get back to confident and flexible parenting. 


  1. Hey David. Just found your blog (via FB).

    Very good article. Non-Anxious presence. That idea has helped me a lot working with the church. It would be a great idea for the home, too. Have you read Benjamin Friedman on this?

    Wes and Megan had a great time visiting with you and Lisa. Thanks.

  2. Warren,
    Thank you for the kind words. We had a great time with Wes and Megan as well. Yes, LOVE Friedman!!! He is one of the "many sources" mentioned. A true classic.

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