When I was growing up, I was pretty much told what to do by my parents.
I wasn’t given many choices, and when I look back, it made life simpler for me as a kid. I didn’t question my mother or father’s parenting ability. My parents knew what was best for me, and most of the time I went along. So, I listened to my parents, did what I was told, and life was good.
I became a parent in 2007 and sought, as every generation does, to break the mold of my parents’ style of parenting and find my own. Over the years, I turned to other parents that were my age and also to the web to develop a parenting approach that was effective without being as “do-as-I-say" as my own parents' had been.
Ultimately, my personal parenting style came to rest on these five tenets:
- Encourage independent thinking.
- Urge your child(ren) to ask questions.
- Ask for your child(ren)’s opinion.
- Provide choices.
- Discuss don’t punish.
Certainly, I'm not the only mom today to have arrived at these ideas. My generation of parents is big into promoting independence, choice, and alternatives to traditional punishment. However, in retrospect, I've come to determine that maybe it was actually my parents who had it right.
In this day and age, we (being the collective parental "we," myself included) do not really punish our kids. We discuss things with our children. We encourage them to think for themselves, make choices, and have their own opinions. In our heart of hearts, we want our children to develop into independent thinking and functioning individuals. But at the same time, we also want them to be polite, respectful, and know when it’s appropriate to ask questions — and when it isn’t. We expect them to shift gears and know the difference between when they can listen to and participate in adult conversations, and when they shouldn’t.
We want our kids to be kids and not grow up too fast, but at the same time we permit them to ask, behave, listen and interact in ways that most of us weren’t allowed to when we were children. We communicate with our children as if they were adults when in reality, their mind isn’t mature like ours is. Therefore, when we give them these adult freedoms of communication, we somewhat expect they will exercise them in an adult manner.They are becoming exactly what we want them to become — but as it turns out, it isn’t what we want all the time, especially times when we need them to listen to us and not question everything in order to get things done.
Children are innocent, but they have extraordinarily powerful minds. Remember the saying, “Children are like sponges?” They soak up information from the stimuli around them; however, the fact of the matter is that they don’t have the real-life experiences and lessons that come with the and realities of being an adult. So, they cannot apply many things they learn to real-world situations — i.e. when we don’t want them to talk back, but they feel they have the right to communicate their thoughts because we’ve asked for their opinions in the past. It’s a double-edge sword!
Nearly all of my friends with children who have subscribed to the same parenting recommendations have had similar experiences. When it comes down to it, we have given our children mixed messages — and it’s backfired on us. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that when we need our children to listen to us, they don’t. Unknowingly, we are engaging our children on our level — an adult level — when we should be engaging them on their level as children. We should be thinking like a child, not the other way around.
We can use the same excellent parenting guidelines, but keep it instead to their world of imagination, make-believe, fun, and play. This is the arena where they can access the freedom to grow, expand their minds, and develop their senses of self by making independent choices. It's the world they thrive in, and so can we!
Valerie Lynn is an international speaker and author on Traditional Feminine Healthcare Expert specializing in Postnatal Recovery and one of the leading New Motherhood Recovery Experts in the United States. Valerie, known as The Mommy Planner, through her book The Mommy Plan, has been a major force in introducing modernized, traditional after birth recovery practices and treatments. She’s is an advocate for a planned recovery after pregnancy and child birth beginning as soon as possible after childbirth. Based on her book she has created a 6-week daily recovery and recuperation plan encompassing nutrition, body, personal care and gentle exercise starting from Day 1 – ‘birth day’. She is completing a cookbook, Healing Meals: Simple Recipes for New Moms with over 100 recipes (breakfast, broth, lunch, hot-beverages, dinner, snacks, desserts) based on healing ingredients, adapted for a Western diet and lifestyle, for new mothers. www.themommyplan.com