I’ve been practicing RIE for over twenty years now, so I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but it still gets me from time to time…these days, it’s titles like “the case against gentle parenting” and ‘cringe parenting.’ A decade ago, it was all about ‘childhood’s end.’ But whether journalists and bloggers think RIE is being too hard or too soft on children, the truth about RIE is that it’s much more nuanced than that.
Maybe it is because it is so nuanced that it is easily derided (so sorry, I couldn’t resist), but to really understand and put this Approach into practice it takes time and presence, and who has time for that? Funnily enough, I first took a RIE training just so that I could understand and explain what it was, and the joke is that at the end of 60 hours over 3 months, I still couldn’t do a consistent elevator pitch on it! 20+ years later, I still stumble a little…how do you sum up a whole way of understanding and interacting with children into a little blurb?
Actually. Maybe I can.
RIE boils down to just one thing: curiosity. What’s going on in the other person and what’s going on in me? And it has to be real, genuine, curiosity. Okay, and after curiosity comes acknowledgement, and then, likely (but not always), some kind of action. But it starts with curiosity. And curiosity takes time and interest. Presence.
It’s not about teaching them every moment or tutoring them through every interaction. It’s not about getting it right every time, or even staying calm all the time. It’s about holding space, paying attention, and noticing: what’s going on with them? What’s going on with me?
A parent just shared with me that she’s been using my favorite book, The Parents’ Tao te Ching, as her morning meditation. I get it: just a moment or two to set your intention for the morning can make all the difference to how you start the day. It’s so easy to get swept up into all of the things that need to, but don’t, get done…all the interactions that should, but don’t, go smoothly…all the things you wish you’d said, but didn’t. When that happens next, take a beat and get curious.
And maybe, to get you off on the RIEght start, here’s a little meditation from the PTtC (the link above is to my Amazon Associate account and I will get a small percentage if you purchase it with that link. You do not need to use my link to buy it!).
With care and respect…and curiosity…
25. Clouds of Light
They look so small and frail
but they are so great and magnificent.
They are born of the same womb
that birthed the cosmos
and knitted together the galaxies.
If you could see them as they truly are,
you would be astounded.
You would see not little children,
but dancing clouds of light,
energy in motion,
swimming in an ocean of love.
They are so much more than what you see.
As are you.
Life can seem mundane.
But it is not.
Children can seem ordinary,
But they are not.
You may feel alone,
But you are not.