As we’re entering the final trimester before welcoming our third (& final) baby I’m struck once more by the sheer volume of advice for parents that is foisted upon us from all angles.
I have been saddened by how many of the “rules” you see now are about control & routine & consequences.
I read a post the other day about the 4 C’s of parenting: they were defined as:
“that fit reasonable constraints” & “must remain firm about which options are available” … surely this is the appearance of choice and free will but actually a lack of freedom of expression?
This appeared next to a picture of a C- on a test paper and followed by a quote of “You can either choose to speak respectfully now, or you will need to take some time in your room” … why? … for a C- … what messages are we giving all parents? Not all kids can or will be straight A students and to link academic ability so intrinsically to naughtiness I found odd (to say the least!).
I actually agreed with a lot of this – by being consistent to create “a positive standard” as an example and we can give our children a “stable sense of how to interact with other people” and that “Parents should always be on the same page” … but all this was then followed by “It will support disciplinary action” *SIGH* straight back to the “rules”, the negative and the element of CONTROL that is a common thread through most parenting posts. (You can read about how we deal with challenging behaviour peacefully here)
Finally – Care –
The absolute basic fundamental of parenting. But even this is contrived – “remind him you are acting out of love” – “tell him this” – your child should be able to feel your love at all times – even through the tough times.
It stuck me that throughout these core 4 C’s there were some fundamentals missing:
Where’s the Compassion
Where’s the Calm
Where’s the Connection
Where’s the Constructive
Where’s the Cuddle
And above all … where’s the F …
All parenting advice seems to focus on Control and negatives and bad behaviour. Just reflect a little on how many times a day we end up saying Stop, wait, be sensible, don’t climb, don’t run …
Have we forgotten – in the myriad of advice about limitations and consequences and control what it’s actually like to be a child?!
Are we systematically drilling the fun, self-expression and imagination out of our kids with rules and routines and the constant pressure to be perfect? For us as parents to be seen as perfect with perfect well-behaved kids 100% of the time?
Have we forgotten the scrapes and grazes, the bumps on the head, the noise, the dirt, the cold hands from playing outside too long and the simple pleasures of running through a sprinkler on a summers day – or the warmth of a calorie laden hot chocolate treat when you came in from the rain?
Have we forgotten to have fun with our kids?
How often do we perceive mischief as naughtiness?
I kind of feel somewhere we are losing the magic of childhood by losing compassion and replacing it with control. By losing confidence in our own abilities and striving to adhere to a plethora of rules and regulations to bring up the “perfect” child.
Let’s keep the consistency – but make it Consistently Positive.
Let’s lose Control and use Expression
Swap just Care for Cuddles
Consequences for Confidence … let’s teach our kids that by expressing their opinion (and themselves) freely they can truly influence the world in positive ways.
Let’s keep choices but make them truly free choice as much as we can …
“red or blue t-shirt? … Pink tutu … ok Son”
Let’s not “allow” fun … but embrace it, BE IT.
Parenting isn’t simply managing children.
It’s also learning FROM them.
Have you spent time looking at your garden in the summer from your child’s height and POV? Honestly it’s even more a riot of colour and activity than we see looking down from our adult perspective.
Know what they want to wear and allow unlimited choices on days when it’s possible. Yesterday it took 2 hours for S to get dressed and complete her outfit – she had free rein and loved expressing herself.
Sure it was mismatched, clashed and some of it was on backwards…
But the confidence she gained getting dressed by herself and the sense of her individuality being nurtured and expressed meant she was happier and more herself all day.
And to be honest the smile she wore completed the outfit perfectly.
So there you have it I am throwing out the rule book, I am off to raise my wildlings to be happy, confident, expressive, kind, mischievous, muddy, imaginative kids …
… & also to drink wine on the days it doesn’t all go to plan!
Love Ali x