When I first read ScreamFree Parenting in 2008, my life was much different than it is now. I didn’t have kids, and I was trying to get through my last few semesters of a Marriage and Family Therapy program in graduate school. The book was recommended to me by a professor, and I was reading it simply to see how it might apply to my work with my clients at the time.
I read it from cover-to-cover in a couple of days. Then, I set out to use it with the parents who trusted me to help them “untie the knots” in their relationships with their kids. Completely won over by the radical philosophy, I wanted to help everyone I worked with become ScreamFree.
It was at that point that I began pondering a question that would follow me for the next seven years: How does one truly become ScreamFree?
This is the most frequently asked question I receive as I have introduced the ScreamFree concept to people on three different continents. Parents, couples, and leaders are all intrigued by the philosophy of non-reactivity, and they want to know how to do it.
I don’t blame them. It’s the very thing I wanted to know after I read the book and heard Hal speak for the first time. I wanted to know how to put the principles into practice — especially after my son and daughter were born.
So, how does someone learn to be ScreamFree? Well, the answer is actually quite simple. You simply stay calm…no matter what.
In the heat of the moment, though, it’s easy to ignore the simplicity of the solution and fall back into the reactive patterns to which we’ve grown accustomed.
Why would we do that if we already know a better way? Why would we do that if we know that we’re supposed to stay calm?
“Why” is the ultimate question, indeed.
See, I believe, instead of asking how one can be ScreamFree, the better route is to ponder why one wants to be ScreamFree.
The “why” leads you to the “how“.
I recently completed reading Simon Sinek’s great book, Start with Why. The premise of the book, without giving too much away, is that great leaders — the ones who spark movements and change the world — have a strong sense of purpose behind doing what they do. Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had a well-developed “why” behind their monumental causes and achievements.
Why creates the willingness to persevere. Why breeds hope. Why is the fuel behind the how.
If I place my focus on figuring out how to become ScreamFree, I seek to learn techniques to assist me towards that end. Techniques fail from time-to-time. When that happens, what then? Do we scrap the whole idea of being calm AND connected?
I would hope not.
This is why I try to move people away from the “how to” mentality toward discovering the “why” behind their desire.
Getting clear on your “why” takes time, but the answer is probably found in what gave you goosebumps the first time you heard a ScreamFree talk or read one of our articles or books. There was something that resonated with you. There was something that made you want more.
What was that?
Behind that “what” is probably your “why”.
For me, it was based in relationship.
I want to have the type of relationship with my wife and kids that fosters open, honest, and authentic communication — now and in the years to come. If I freak out and give in to my anxiety, there is no way I will create an environment that will make that a reality.
That’s my “why”.
My “why” keeps me grounded and focused. Sometimes I fail, but I try to continue coming back to my purpose. This purpose is my GPS to keep me heading in the right direction. Without it, I will wander aimlessly, running from one technique to another.
Over the next few weeks, we will examine in more detail the why behind the what of ScreamFree. Next week, I’ll think through the question, “Why do I need to become a ScreamFree parent?”
For now, I’ll proceed with a big assumption. You’re reading this article because you’re looking for something. My guess is there’s something about the idea of being ScreamFree that is appealing to you.
So…what’s your why?
Why do you want to be ScreamFree?