How the Search for Myself is Changing Our Parenting

mykidletsThat night as I held my new born baby for the first time, I never dreamed parenting would be so complicated. What’s so hard about feeding a baby, changing diapers, and teaching a child to obey?

I found the baby and toddler years to be fairly easy. Exhausting, but not complicated. You teach the child to eat well, sleep well, play well, and listen well.

Then it hit… those preschool years when they’re three and four. And suddenly, they’re not typical toddlers anymore. They’re their very own bundle of person with their own desires, own feelings, own will, and own mind. And by golly, they’re going to use them to their greatest benefit. This is where things got a little shakey for me.

How do you validate your child’s own personality, feelings, and will, while teaching the important concept of authority? Especially when you’re so adverse to the very word: authority. Quite honestly, I still hate the word.

I floundered along as each of my four children passed through this stage. I doubted. I hesitated. I second guessed. Sometimes I was strict. Sometimes lenient. But mostly just so darn confused. I guess I thought if I could just manage to make it through that stage, the next one would be easier.

I know. I laugh at myself too. There’s no such thing as parenting getting easier. But I think there just might be such a thing as parenting getting smarter and kinder.

With my husband’s help, I’ve spent several month evaluating my parenting. Why the doubt and aversions?

And you know what I found? The worst part of my entire childhood was that I had no personal identity. I obeyed because my mom said to. If I didn’t, bad things happened. My mother’s parenting was about conformity and control. I’m sure she meant well and did the best she knew how, but it’s not what I wanted for my kids.

Turns out I was opposed to various parenting methods, because I felt so many of them focused solely on conformity and not on guiding your child into finding and loving the person they were created to be while mastering respect and responsibility.

As I’ve learned to love who I am, I’ve realized that my children are incredible creatures of tremendous powers and abilities. Who am I to steal that from them?

parenting

I began to realize that parenting isn’t about “authority”; it’s about education. It’s not about rules and consequences; It’s about presentation, repetition, and practice. We are teachers, not dictators.

We teach them life skills (respect and responsibility) the same way we would teach them motor skills or educational skills. We present the lesson through our conversations, our activities, and by example. Then we rinse and repeat a thousand times, and practice, practice, practice. Cause that’s how the human brain learns.

These days, my husband and I travel a new parenting journey together. We punish hardly ever and teach mostly always. And our home is happier because of it.

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