Achieving Balance and Harmony


How Cesar Helped Raise My Children

By Leslie Garrett

Let me start by saying I don’t dress my dogs in rainsuits and I don’t expect my children to urinate on shrubs. Dogs are dogs and children are children.

What’s more, I’m a former Parenting Magazine editor. I’ve interviewed zillions of experts. Have stacks of parenting books dealing with everything from what to expect when I was expecting to how to cope when what I expected turned into a tyrannical toddler. A precocious preschooler. A tween with a ‘tude. I was well-equipped, I thought, to raise three wonderful children.

My husband, on the other hand, realized early on he might not be able to deal with infants who sleep only in five-minute increments and only during the daytime, “spirited” children who freak out if a grilled cheese sandwich comes within three inches of the carrots, or children whose eyes roll skyward with a frequency matched only by their exasperated sighs. Dogs, however, he understands.

So while I’ve struggled to maintain order in a home filled with three strong-minded children—who’ve historically responded to every request with an ear-splitting “you can’t make me!”—my husband created a canine utopia, with formerly delinquent dogs that actually do what they were told. Well…at least for him.

How? I demanded, had he done it?

Calm-assertive was his calm-assertive answer. Calm-assertive is not exactly my strong suit. Calm-asleep, perhaps. Angry-aggressive. Occasionally hysterically assertive and sometimes weepingly submissive. But calm-assertive? Nope. Not in my repertoire.

In the meantime, however, our dogs have become the talk of the neighborhood, at least with his at the end of the leash. “Your dogs are certainly well behaved!” I routinely hear from neighbors, as I struggle to walk three children to the school bus on time.

I quietly pushed aside my parenting books to make room for Cesar’s “calm-assertive” ones. Perhaps, I figured, there’s something to this Whispering stuff, though hollering had always been my style. Okey dokey, I thought. Calm-assertive it is.

I started with the dogs and in fairly short order, they stopped dragging me behind them like a drunk water-skier. I felt…in control. It felt good.

I moved on to my kids. It took practice. But over time it became easier to act than to react, to remain…calm-assertive…in the face of all sorts of resistance. Our house started to feel like one based on cooperation. Rules were enforced, not just when I was fed up, but all the time.

I became calm-assertive with sometimes difficult friends. Challenging relatives. I’m using it on the workers renovating our home. So far the only ones utterly unimpressed are…my cats.

Has following Cesar's Way helped you in other areas of your life? Let us know in the Comments section below.

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