Hal Edward Runkel Screamfree Parenting

ISBN 13: 9781415942277

Screamfree Parenting

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9781415942277: Screamfree Parenting
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Start Revolution In Your Family...Tonite!

Every kid wants to have cool parents. This does not mean parents hip to the latest styles, nor parents with no rules whatsoever. What every kid really wants are parents who are able to keep their cool no matter what. Kids want parents who are far less anxious and far more levelheaded than they are. Your kids want you to remain unflappable, even when they flip out.

Turns out, that’s exactly what they need.

Screamfree Parenting is the principle-based relationship approach that’s inspiring parents everywhere to truly revolutionize their families. Throwing away many of the child-centered technique-based approaches, the ScreamFree way compels you to instead focus on yourself, grow yourself up and calm yourself down. By calming down and still remaining connected to your kids, you begin to operate less out of your deepest fears and more out of your highest principles, transforming your relationships in the process.

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About the Author:

Hal Edward Runkel, LMFT, is America’s newest expert on human relationships. A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, relationship coach, seminar speaker and organizational consultant, Hal is founder and President of ScreamFree Living, Inc, and author of ScreamFree Parenting and the upcoming ScreamFree Marriage and ScreamFree Leadership. Hal and his wife Jenny, live with their two children in the Greater Atlanta area.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One: Parenting Is Not About Kids, It’s About Parents

It’s not you, it’s me.
–George Costanza, Seinfeld

The greatest thing you can do for your kids is learn to focus on yourself.

That statement might not make complete sense right now. It might, in fact, seem downright offensive. What? Turn the focus away from my children and onto myself? Isn’t that against all the rules?

No, it isn’t. I’m not proposing that you put your children last on the list. Far from it. What I am saying is that by focusing on yourself, you will have a healthier, happier relationship with your whole family.

You see, most of us have been operating with a faulty model of how to live in our relationships. That’s not to say our relationships are all faulty, but the model sure is. We’ve been operating with a model that says in order to have healthy relationships, we need to focus on meeting other people’s needs, trying to serve them and make them happy.

To even question such a model draws controversy, I know, but stay with me. By focusing on yourself, you will have a healthier, happier relationship with your whole family.

This book is going to talk about why this model is so faulty, particularly in our parent-child relationships. For now, there are a few simple things we should consider. First, it’s a given that there are things in this world we can control and things we cannot control. Now ask yourself this question: How smart is it to focus your energy on something you can’t do anything about, something you cannot control?

Answer: Not very.

Follow-up question: Which category do your kids fall into? In other words, are your children something you can control or something you cannot control? Here’s an even tougher question: Even if you could control your kids, should you? Is that what parenting is all about? And what if it’s not the kids who are out of control?

A fundamental assertion of this book is that God wants us to parent our children the way he parents us. Think about how he relates to you. Does he constantly hover around you trying to make you completely comfortable? Is God some kind of control freak, pulling your strings and manipulating your every choice? Of course not! God is concerned about you, but he does not allow you to set his agenda. He always acts out of his own integrity. What would your relationships look like if you started to do the same?

Who’s Really Out of Control Here?

My kids, Hannah and Brandon, were four and two, and it was one of those Saturday mornings. My wife, Jenny, and I had stayed up way too late on Friday night, which guaranteed that our kids would get up way too early the next day. And so the weekend began with a lot of whining and crying and complaining–and the kids were upset as well.

So I decided, in my parenting expert wisdom, to get us all out of the house. Let’s go to Waffle House for breakfast.

Now the first Waffle House we walked into was just too full, but, thankfully, there is no shortage of Waffle Houses in suburban Atlanta. So, we piled back into the car, strapped our children into their car seats, quieted disappointed whines with promises of lots of maple syrup, and drove the hundred yards or so to a second Waffle House. And the line at the second one was just as long as the first.

There was no way we were getting the kids back into the car for another trip, however, so we decided to wait it out. Thankfully, the staff at this Waffle House were thinking–they had crayons and blank paper for the kids. My wife and I could even get in a little adult conversation. A win-win situation.

As if that weren’t enough, a sign caught my eye. If my children drew a picture, they were entitled to a paper Waffle House hat–just like the grill man wears–and a free waffle.

Sometimes life is good. The kids colored. My wife and I talked. The time flew and before we knew it, we were seated–my wife and daughter on one side of the booth, my son and I on the other. They brought the kids their paper hats, and I even tried one on.

If you’ve never been to a Waffle House, you would be amazed at the consistency of their architecture. All the tables surround the kitchen, and wall-length windows surround the tables. It’s very open, and it’s easy to notice the goings-on of others.

Now, while I was feeling pretty good by this time, my kids hadn’t eaten anything all morning. Hungry kids who’ve done nothing but wait around can be...restless. Hannah, our four-year-old, handled it all right, just garden-variety complaints. But Brandon, our two-year-old, sure was feeling two years old, if you know what I mean. Two-year-olds generally have no regard for things like “practicing an inside voice” or “using words like a big boy” when they’ve been forced in and out of a car with nothing to eat but promises. Cooperating with me was not high on his list of priorities at the time. Enjoying a nice family breakfast didn’t seem like such a good idea now.

But I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I’m a relationship coach. I know how to control myself and keep from losing my temper. I know better than to react and resort to yelling and violent acts of coercion. I can stay calm in the face of increasing levels of anxiety. But then my son threw his fork on the floor. My resolve began to fade.

The fork made a loud noise, causing all the people around us to look at me. Some of them even pointed and whispered (at least that’s what it felt like they were doing). I looked over at my perfect wife sitting there with my perfect daughter. There is an unwritten rule among parents with multiple kids: Whoever is sitting on your side is on your watch. So while the women in my life are enjoying this angelic scene of cooperation and intimacy, my son and I are on the verge of World War III.

Nothing is making him happy, nothing is stopping him from the beginning stages of an all-out tantrum. Finally, his waffle arrives and I think the battle will be over soon. So, I start to cut the waffle up, but he doesn’t want the waffle cut up. Maybe he wants to eat the whole thing with his hands in one bite, I don’t know. I do know I’m feeling closer and closer to my own emotional edge.

But I’m the expert on human relationships, right? I’m the one planning to write a book someday called ScreamFree Parenting. Was I going to allow a two-year-old to push my buttons? You bet I was. See, the fork got such a great response, my son began to wonder what might happen if he threw his waffle–plate and all–on the floor.

Here’s what might happen: Daddy might lose his cool! And that’s precisely what did happen.

I hastily apologized to the people with syrup splatter on their feet and then snatched Brandon out of his booster seat. Then I apologized to the man sitting in the booth behind us after Brandon’s foot hit him in the back of the head.

And then we stormed out of the restaurant. All eyes were fixed on us as my son kept screaming. And kicking. And hitting.

I was seething as I pushed the door open with such force that it rattled the glass walls. The reverberating structure got everyone’s attention. The entire restaurant saw me outside on the sidewalk, yelling at my son, using big words, asking rhetorical questions, puffing out my chest, pointing my finger, and intimidating a boy who couldn’t have stood more than thirty-six inches tall. What a big man I was!

Finally, somehow, the ugly scene ended. Brandon and I returned to our seats to complete our nice family breakfast. And there sat Jenny, my loving and faithful wife. I think she wanted to say something supportive and reassuring, but she just couldn’t contain the smirk. I was a volcano looking for an excuse to erupt.

“What?” I barked.

“Nice hat.”

It was then that I realized the paper Waffle House hat still sat squarely on top of my head. The entire scene had taken place with a silly hat on top of a silly man who wanted nothing more than to be taken seriously.

Our Biggest Enemy as Parents
Truth be told, I didn’t need the hat to make me look foolish. I had done that myself with my knee-jerk reactivity. In fact, that kind of emotional reaction is our worst enemy when it comes to having great relationships. Let me say that again: Emotional reactivity is our worst enemy when it comes to having great relationships.

If you don’t get anything else from this book, get this: Our biggest struggle as parents is not with the television; it’s not with bad influences; it’s not even with drugs or alcohol. Our biggest struggle as parents is with our own emotional reactivity. That’s why the greatest thing we can do for our kids is learn to focus on us, not them. Instead of anxiously trying to control our kids, let’s concentrate on what we can control–calming our own emotional, knee-jerk reactions.

What’s so damaging about being too reactive? Keep reading. The next couple of chapters will make it clear. For now, consider this: How can we have any influence on our children’s decision-making if we don’t have an influence on our own? When we get reactive, we get regressive. That is, we shrink back to an immature level of functioning.

Think of me at Waffle House. In an effort to get my two-year-old to stop acting so immaturely, I became just as immature. How effective can that be? I’ve come to realize that if I get loud and scary and intimidating, I may get compliance eventually, but at what price? I may have screamed my son into submission at Waffle House, but what type of relationship will I have with him if I continue to parent by reactive intimidation? If we want to be influential, then we have to fi...

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Hal Edward Runkel
Published by Books On Tape (2007)
ISBN 10: 1415942277 ISBN 13: 9781415942277
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