Parenting Outside the Lines by Meghan Leahy [Book Summary – Review]

Are you one of those who are still fresh in motherhood or fatherhood and need a mentor in the jungle of your child’s development process? Or maybe you are merely looking for a miraculous remedy for flare-ups in your 2-3 year old child?

Well, then, you will not find what you are seeking in the chapters below because they are not going to contain a to-do list for you to become ideal mothers and fathers. On the contrary, you are going to be told to throw away all the knowledge you have already taken from books on parenting. In the following chapters, you are going to be counseled to strive to welcome being imperfect mothers and fathers rather than flawless ones.

Acquire the knowledge of embracing your kids and yourself as you are by adapting to your instincts.

Below, you shall acquire the knowledge of these:

  • Reasons behind possible problems in your home caused by salmon dinner;
  • Ways to end making your kids feel guilty to make them love you; and
  • The reason why technology addiction may be more advanced in you than your kid.

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Chapter 1 – Abandon the subjective rules and be harmonious with your children.

Meghan Leahy, who has written this book, saw that she was at the bottom of motherhood when she got so annoyed by her toddler daughter that she shut herself in the bathroom to ease her temper.

What was the matter? The little girl was resisting preparing herself for the day, as before. Leahy used persuasion, bribery, intimidation, and physical coercion — her every classic tool. However, they were never enough. The daughter was determined not to take off her sleeping suit.

She encountered the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP) when she searched the internet for mothering guidance as her patience had reached the limit. She phoned the helpline and told the polite-voiced woman the matter. Nevertheless, what the consultant said was shocking for her. She asked why the little girl needed to take off her sleeping suit.

Initially, Leahy was baffled by the question. Yet, she understood that the consultant was speaking the truth when she paused and looked at the matter more carefully. Her concern over her daughter’s clothes stemmed solely from what others would think. However, there was no fitting ground for her daughter to wear regular clothes while going to school, other than meeting expectations on dressing etiquette. 

That conversation with the consultant via a phone call was an enlightenment. The author comprehended that she was setting subjective rules and patterns for her kids. She had made herself believe that the reins must always be in her hands and encoded adamant notions, such as giving less to a child would cause her to do more, into her mind. Nevertheless, over time, motherhood turned into a scuffle for dominance. Since she spent time controlling the behaviors of her kids, she could not find time to form a link with them.

To access her kids, Leahy would have to forget past notions and embrace what actuality was, not what it ought to be per her opinions.

Leahy had to know how to decipher her kids and the case and abandon mothering according to suppositional concerns, instead of asserting her own will no matter how it would end. In addition, she would have to set priorities and select the substantial principles for her household. She began to permit her toddler to wear pajamas while going to school. She had to understand that she should not be anxious about the opinions of others and get rid of her hubris when it comes to the outer looks of her toddler. Consequently, the start of the day was clear of the scuffle for dominance and Leahy began to enjoy it.    

Chapter 2 – Mothers and fathers frequently have their part in inciting collisions.

Imagine this happening: In a grocery store full of people, your toddler is freaking out while you are loading supplies into the trolley like crazy. She bawls and strikes with her feet before the terrorized gazes of all the other people there. While sweating badly, you hear your heart beating fast. How do you deal with such an issue?

In such a situation, Leahy took her daughter in her arms and ran away, leaving the trolley in the department. She started to think about what had gone astray when she stopped in the car park. She became aware of the fact that she had a part in the occurrence of the incident. She had unwittingly pushed her toddler to the end of her limits.

Leahy understood that she would have seen more clearly that her daughter was tired even before they stepped into the store had she not been so eager to impose her will without regard for the consequences.

Leahy’s assumption that her toddler would follow the program even when she was fatigued showed that she wasn’t realistic about what her daughter could do. The little girl was merely two years old. She wasn’t old enough either to put up with a chore she detested or to control her feelings.

Thus, how do you act when you enter a power race with your kid in the future? It’s essential to give your attention to the signs given by your kid. Interaction shall aid you in letting go of automatic actions, allowing you to reach your instincts. This may help you to understand that it is a  horrible moment for going to the grocery store and ordering pizza is a better option.

In the future, ponder on the cases that are usually tense in your household and question whether you contribute to the rise of the tension. For instance, there was a struggle between Leahy and her children every morning before school time. She became aware of the fact that mornings were quite tense to some degree as she had limited time and thought she was messy. Thus, walking around commanding her kids did not make them happy at all. Several tactics — making breakfast ready for the next morning and food for lunchtime — were brought thanks to her analysis of this interaction which enabled her to apply them. The difficulty of the mornings gradually diminished as Leahy thought she was more powerful.

Chapter 3 – Although quarrel between siblings is natural, you may be increasing the severity of it.

Witnessing his or her kids’ quarrel is the most demoralizing thing for a mother or father. Car rides can become diabolical torments and daily chores can transform into theaters of war due to sibling quarrels.

However, it is natural for sibling quarrels to happen. When it comes to a harsh issue, kids cannot act rationally or sensibly. Thus, they attack as soon as they are crushed and annoyed.

Nevertheless, there can be reasons behind the quarrel that you don’t notice. By withdrawing from the matter and observing the interactions within your household widely, can provide a certain amount of hints on how to rectify the case.

All over again, inspecting your part in the quarrel shall be a large portion of that discovery. You indeed contribute to this.

Maybe your kids start the quarrel to make you heed them. A yelling race is the best course of action to attract your indivisible heed. Begin by contemplating ways to get favorable heed — if you feel like you are the source of the problem — so they do not rely on causing problems.

Then watch closely if you favor one child over the other(s). It may be that you shield a kid who requires exceptional care. If not, it may be that you feel more compatible with a particular child of yours. The rivalry with your favorite kid that will eventually cause a feeling of quarrel shall begin once other kids notice your attitude.

Meticulous stabilizing of your propensity to favor a particular kid is required to prevent such cases. Be mostly wary of declaring a kid a problem. Others may tempt them. Give up every single type of comparing and contrasting between your children. No matter how innocent it may seem, even showing one child’s healthy eating habits as an example to another can create a malignant feeling of rivalry.

Lastly, think about whether the ways you use to quell the conflict are support or agitation that only exacerbates the issue. The problem can become even graver if you intervene for each tiny slur, inflict accusations, and ground your kids severely. However, being passive towards your quarreling kids can mean that you are giving up your authority. From time to time, kids must hear their mothers and fathers yell hard at them not to do something.

Chapter 4 – Mothers and fathers cannot hope their parenthood to be validated by their kids.

The problem began when salmon, which appeared harmless on the surface, was served at dinner. Panicked to see that her kids were not consuming healthy food, Leahy set about cooking a nutritious meal. Vegetables, rice, and salmon replaced the accustomed chicken nuggets.

The kids did not accept to consume the dinner that they detested. The dinner, which terminated with foods that were left uneaten, was a lengthy suffering full of whimpers, intimidation, and inducement. Leahy was enraged by the fact that her little ones were acting like spoiled and dissatisfied kids as if she had not spent a lot of time preparing the dinner for the family members.

However, when Leahy calmed down, she saw that the salmon symbolized a far more profound feature in her mothering: what she wanted from her kids was far from reality. Salmon dinner was not requested by her kids. How could she hope children whose eating habits altered abruptly and precious nuggets taken from them to be grateful to their mother?

Your sense that your children ignore that you give something of yourself for their sake is presumably not pleasing you. Perhaps although they can go quite well on foot, you drop them off at school by car. Or perhaps there were their constantly pouting faces as a response to your devotion, accumulating money and so taking them on a lavish holiday.

However, this is the point. The operation cannot be in mothering. Namely, you cannot do your kids a favor with the hope of obtaining gains in return. Felicity, esteem, and tribute cannot be for sale to you. They are your children and this is all. Because they have rooms of their own in their souls, they are not under the obligation of pretending to be excited on vacation.

Thus, by what method can this be altered? First of all, granting yourself a certain amount of self-love and self-recognition is the most prominent step. Being a mother or father is hard work and despite harsh situations, you are handling it competently. In this regard, you are worthy not only of your kids’ approval but also of all kinds of acceptance.

In the second place, consider if you are engaged in things that you are not able to meet their material or spiritual requirements. Make them go to school by bus if taking them there by car gives your daily routine extra pressure. Daily tours are an enjoyable alternative for your children if a lavish holiday cannot be afforded. Children usually desire spending time with their parents rather than cool favors. In addition, you will want approval from others less and less as soon as you begin to engage in sustainable things and decrease pressure on you.

Chapter 5 – Lessen your screen addictiveness so that your kids can do it too.

What was the last deed before sleep yesterday? And what was the first act you did as soon as you got out of bed today? What you did was to look at your mobile phone, if you are one of those many individuals.

Nowadays, debates on AI’s contagious effect which is responsible for our children’s transformation into screen maniacs who do not get out of their rooms for the sake of diving into video games are all around us. We come across findings about how our kids are subject to the perils of smartphones and computers more than we consider how these penetrate the lives of adults.

Do you spend time on your cell phone even if it is not necessary? If you are doing this, you are setting an example of a screen addict to your kids. And your kids cannot have access to you.

While checking the news, you do not fully listen to what your kids are saying about the events they have recently experienced, so you do not focus on their words. Even though you are trying to make yourself look like you listening by muttering something, they know that you are not making eye contact with them. It is deeply troubling for them to receive your distracted attention, as they have no way of knowing how much you are following or not. The outcome? They begin to complain, act, quarrel, or perform anything they need to do to prevent your attention from being diverted.

So, this means there is no way for you to look at your smartphone at all? Certainly not. Still, you ought to spend your time with a sense of responsibility. You may have specifically determined phone and phone-free hours. Its meaning could also be telling your children when you are with them and looking at your phone that you must text someone but you shall be back soon. This is a strong method even though it seems silly. Telling loudly what you are busy with at the moment assures your children by giving them clear information about the time you focus on them. This also creates a pattern for the sort of rules for using technology you would like to live with.        

Concentrate on your kids’ tech problems after looking into your own. They need to learn from you when and how to use their phones, tablets, and computers. Additionally, the babysitting of features in web browsers and applications that prevent access to particular content cannot take over the supervision of mothers and fathers. Set a good few general standards for appropriate screen time for your family and be certain of every family member’s (you are no exception) adherence to it.       

Chapter 6 – Mothers and fathers are required to be resistant and merciful leaders.

This is not straightforward to say. From time to time, kids can be terrible. They can treat their mothers and fathers in such a despotic and brutal way as to terrify them. From time to time, kids take control of the household by bossing about their parents’ interactions with other people, what the family members watch on television, and the food that is eaten.

Where does this come from? Children are not brutal when they are born. They adopt brutality as they get excessive authority from their mothers and fathers. When they are about two years old, every kid begins to resist the orders. Despite being natural, it can be so back-breaking that mothers and fathers eventually surrender to fury. If this occurs frequently, control begins to fall into children’s hands.

Abruptly, as a mother or father, you have dropped the steering wheel of leadership and are trapped in an endless authority race with your kids. Its hardship for them is the same as for you. Having the authority is not desirable for them. In addition to being spiritually green, they are not ready to have power. The thing that they long for is the neat and polite captainship of their parent.

Continuing to surrender means letting go of obligation as a mother or father and letting your children have far more authority than they can digest. Thus, how do you solve this? Begin maintaining the line, and let your kids be sad.

This may appear like telling them they can’t eat ice cream when it comes to application. This can be said politely rather than punitively. Speak with emotions to send the message that you grasp why this is making them sad. Although it is always awful to witness your children weep, it is not quite unhealthy. Coming across circumstances that go wrong is indispensable for constructing the stamina in your kids.

It shall take a great amount of time to alter the status If your kids are accustomed to being in control. Don’t forget that haste and abruptness are not driving forces for actual alteration. Establish limits step by step rather than putting them in one heat. Even if you may revert to previous standards with the drop in performance sometimes, don’t give up. In time, you shall notice that scales of authority have entered into a more beneficial state. The bond between you and your kids shall be flourishingly better. 

Chapter 7 – Saying sorry in a genuine way is the greatest healer.

You are merely a human being. From time to time, you shall likely go mad despite your harmless intent. Perhaps you scold your kids because of a loss of composure due to vacillation. Maybe you are exhausted with an empty stomach and so their complaints try your patience to its limit.

Occasionally, it is natural for you to flare. Since you are not a machine, you cross the line from time to time. Having the authority and the responsibility to heal the wounds differentiates you from your children.

There is no better way than apologizing to heal the wounds caused by your flare-ups. However, you should say sorry genuinely and without condition to make the act powerful. Irritable reactions like saying to your kids that your behavior that makes them unhappy stems from their stimulating actions are no use. You are not apologizing by blaming them for everything without displaying any regret.

A true apology sentence does not contain words like “but.” In an actual apology, you feel completely responsible for your actions. For instance, you can say that you are upset about your shouting caused by your crossing of the limit. Or you can ask pardon for not keeping your word and saying that it was not right. It is unnecessary to squirm in guilt for your faults. The only thing you need to do is face it and then progress.

You may think you are now unguarded and like you are dropping the remote of authority because of saying sorry. You may think that you are weakened and you have lost esteem in the eyes of your children. However, in reality, embracing your faults is a manifestation of power. What’s more, it will set an effective example for your kids to learn.

Some mothers and fathers do not apologize first because they think the child should be the first to be regretful. Yet, this is nonsensical. First and foremost, you cannot make your kid experience certain sentiments forcefully. In the second place, you need to understand that toddlers and teenagers cannot be more mature than adults when it comes to feelings. You should be in charge of controlling how family members interact with each other because you are the one who is the adult of that household.

Thus, be merciful to yourself a bit when you sense instability within yourself in the future. The difficulty of parenthood and the reality of being a human bring forth the escalation of temper from time to time. Then, as soon as you catch a breath, move and fix the thing. This method of managing collisions shall make the link between you and your kids stronger.

Recall that parenting does not go through a flawless path. The thing that can give you the knowledge you require is your instinct. Additionally, grasping the true selves of your kids is the most substantial part.  

Parenting Outside the Lines: Forget the Rules, Tap into Your Wisdom, and Connect with Your Child by Meghan Leahy Book Review 

More appropriate resolutions come with listening to your instincts. A flawless road is not present in parenthood. However, unless you cease connection and deem dominance more pivotal than establishing links, you shall get critical knowledge about your children’s requirements. When your kid takes action, you can discover preventative methods to lower the situation’s tension by examining the main motives behind their behaviors.   

Involve your children in the new modifications through family gatherings. 

Through a family gathering, let your family members meet new modifications such as decreasing the amount of time with smartphones and computers and more wholesome meals. If your children think they have contributed to the resolution, their possibility of keeping up with it shall be higher. In addition, don’t forget that persistent change develops step by step. Begin with less and make advancements without haste.  

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