I want you to actually say this out loud: “I am responsible to my child for how I behave, regardless of how he or she behaves.”

Again, the focus is on you because ultimately you are the only one you can control. If you make sure you behave—even when your kids misbehave—then you have a greater chance of positively influencing the situation, any situation. That is ScreamFree Parenting.

In this book you’ll read several stories of parents facing the very situations you face. They range from the ordinary, such as the bedtime struggles with a toddler, to the dramatic, such as the Mom-I-just-got-into-a-wreck scenario we all dread. All these situations create anxiety, sometimes the intense, I-don’t know-if-I-can-handle-this type of anxiety. And that’s okay.

This book will help you face similar situations, whether your kids are tots or teenagers, with a renewed confidence in your own integrity. Becoming a ScreamFree Parent involves a growing self-awareness, a greater sense of self-direction, and an increased willingness to take personal responsibility for your actions, regardless of the actions of those around you.

Come to think of it, isn’t that what we want for our kids? We want them to be self-aware, self-directed, and able to take personal responsibility for their actions. But they will never get there if we don’t model it all for them. You see, this parenting stuff is more about us than it is about them. The first idea in this book is: The greatest thing you can do for your kids is learn to focus on yourself. Getting rid of the weight of the responsible-for model is the first step. In the rest of the book, we turn our focus toward all that’s involved in your responsibility to your children.

This will not be an easy journey. Once you turn the focus inward, you always learn more about yourself than you want to know. Like how easily you allow access to your emotional buttons, hoping others “just don’t go there.” Or how much you’ve been trying to teach your children lessons you have yet to learn yourself. Turning your attention to yourself is not a self-indulgent journey. On the contrary, it is all about discovering where you still need to grow. And that’s what becoming ScreamFree is all about—opening your eyes to your own continued maturity so you can lead your kids toward theirs.

I would tell you to hold on to your hat, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. But then again, the last thing we need to do is keep wearing our silly hats.

From ScreamFree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel, LMFT.  Copyright © 2007 by ScreamFree Omnimedia LLC.  Used by permission of WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, CO.  All rights reserved.

Hal Runkel is a licensed marriage and family therapist, relationship coach, seminar speaker and organizational consultant.  As founding principal of ScreamFree Living Inc., Hal presents ScreamFree programs to audiences nationwide and appears frequently in the media.  He has earned a master’s degree in theological sutdies, as well as a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Abilene Christian University.  Hal and his wife, Jenny, live with their two children in the Atlanta area.