Create a Blueprint for a Happy, Resilient Family

–Featuring Bonnie Snyder, Ed.S., CPC and Jan Rysdon, M.A., CHt.

Every time I mess up is a chance to practice.

~Marshall Rosenberg

Being Heart-Thoughtful will support you in creating a blueprint to be a happy, resilient parent and have happy, resilient children! One way to be Heart-Thoughtful and strengthen your blueprint is to “speak giraffe.” Do you speak ‘giraffe’ or a ‘jackal’? Or maybe a combination of both. Confused? Before you answer, read a bit further.

In every family, there are times of dissension and sometimes out-and-out “war.” What causes us to be at “war” in our family, with our children, or with others in our lives? It probably starts with two different points of view. Then it may move into feelings of self-blame, blaming others, or believing things are unfair.

It may be a request that isn’t heeded, such as “Please pick up” or “Stop arguing with your brother,” which then escalates from a simple request into war. Parents and children either learn how to get what they need in a positive, encouraging way or in a frustrating, “war-like,” angry, demanding, self-confidence-shredding way. The latter is the language of the Jackal. When we feel judged, not respected, accused, or unfairly treated, we react with the fierceness of the jackal. The language of the jackal is using sharp words to criticize, judge, analyze, and separate as defined in Nonviolent Communication by Marshal Rosenberg.

The Giraffe, on the other hand, feels into things with its heart. Giraffes are “Heart-Thoughtful”—which means the heart leads and is followed by the mind. When you speak giraffe, you “unify, connect, and look for solutions.” You look at differences as an opportunity for choice or to approach the situation in a different way. The giraffe feels into things with compassion for self and for others.

The giraffe’s Heart-Thoughtful way of thinking can help you focus on your children’s perspective and behavior in a more expanded way.

The most important piece for your blueprint is to find that inner place of empowerment and compassion. As Marion Badenoch Rose, Ph.D., illustrates in Nonviolent Communication with Children, Heart-Thoughtful parenting helps meet the needs of all. Nonviolent communication—Heart-Thoughtful communication—allows you to shift your thinking from good and bad judgments to heart-mindful connections.

When your child says or does something the opposite of what you expect, you can blame yourself or blame your child and speak jackal.

Or you can ‘Speak Giraffe’ and be Heart-Thoughtful:

✓ Stop. Breathe. Feel the calm coming to your body and mind.

✓ Connect to your feelings and needs: “I feel disappointed. I’m tired.”

✓ Be compassionate to yourself “It’s okay to feel this way. I’m doing the best I can.”

✓ Invite your child to take a deep breath and start again.

✓ Use additional Heart-Thoughtful strategies to move through the situation


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