A Courageous Parent: One Man's Transformational Experience | Teaching Self-Government

A Courageous Parent: One Man's Transformational Experience

At a recent parenting workshop I spoke at I was deeply touched at the transformation of one man. Jed Norwood, a devoted father, said, “That was real courage.” This was his statement after he saw me and my fifteen year old daughter demonstrate how the Rule of Three works.

In our role play, Paije was angry. She shouted, ignored, tried to distract me, made excuses, manipulated, and finally walked away. She tried to be as close to a real teenage tantrum as she could perform. She really is a little actress.

The whole time Paije raged and manipulated I stayed calm. I said the words of the Rule of Three. No matter what she said I kept going with the rule of three. I wasn't going to allow her to control my emotions or my behaviors by sucking me into her pretend power struggle.

Pretend power struggles can carry all the real emotions of real power struggles. The room was feeling the negative energy and they were getting uncomfortable watching Paije. Jed said, “I had to keep myself in control. I felt like smacking her even though she wasn't my child.” (not that he would)

I suppose this tells you how believable of an actress Paije is, and how she would probably regularly behave if she didn't know how to govern herself. She is a really strong willed girl. She just chooses to use that strong will to control herself instead of to try to manipulate others.

After Jed said, “That was real courage.” he said, “I have been studying humility for a long time and trying to incorporate it into my life, but I have had a hard time because it seemed like courage had to look strong [and aggressive.] But what you just did when Paije was yelling and out of control was real courage. That is what courage looks like. It looks like humility, and it isn't weak. You were really strong and calm.”

Jed was able to see how a person can be courageous and humble at the same time. I call that skill being assertive. I absolutely love the way Jed described assertiveness. So inspiring.

After Jed's amazing comment, someone asked how I stay calm and don't engage or talk back to Paije when she is being so aggressive. This is what I do: I think about the words I have to say so that I don't take the manipulations she is using personally, I listen to my own voice tone, and most importantly I think about how my own heart feels. I focus on reaching with my heart to her and on keeping my heart calm. That calmness is really hard to escalate against. It is a power to touch another heart and to keep my heart safe when someone else is out of control.

It really is the little moments in our lives that form us into the powerful people we are meant to become. This little moment was a big moment for Jed and for me. Jed saw himself in a new way. He saw the way to overcome the problem he was trying to fix. He saw the man he could become. He also saw the way to implement the humility and courage principles he knew were important into his daily living and interactions.

When a person has a vision they are transformed into a new person. They gain permission to behave and connect to people in different ways. I am so excited for Jed's future. His epiphany also strengthened me. Thank you Jed for adding new vocabulary to describe assertiveness.

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