There are a lot of parenting theories swirling around right now. I’ve found that I can relate to many of them and sort of fit with some of them. But I don’t really belong to any of them. I never found a group and followed along. And in searching for how or why I came to my particular set of beliefs, I came to this conclusion:
I treat my kids with respect.
Parenting gets really simple when you realize your children are human beings. Your children are not pets, slaves, or property. They are human. Just like you. They have thoughts, desires, feelings and needs, just like you. When you are considering a parenting choice, just ask yourself a simple question: how would I feel?
We ascribe so many negative qualities to our children. Stubborn, rude, disobedient, liar, loud, selfish, mean, strong-willed, disruptive. We say that our children won’t pay attention, are too rowdy, too lazy, talk back, don’t listen. Our children don’t want to share, won’t hug our friends, won’t sleep alone, want too much attention, have tantrums, won’t eat what we serve, won’t take naps.
But take a moment to look at yourself.
Have you ever had road rage, screamed at your spouse or thrown your remote across the room? That’s a tantrum. Have you ever procrastinated cleaning your bathroom or running to the dry cleaners? That’s lazy. What about arguing with your mother when she gives you unsolicited advice? Talking back. Have you ever taken a break at work because you just couldn’t sit one minute more? Too rowdy.
Can you imagine meeting someone for the first time and having some other person tell you that you MUST hug them? How creepy. What about somebody telling you that you must sleep RIGHT NOW, but you are not all tired? And no, you can’t watch tv, read or play on your tablet. You must lie there, all by yourself, in the dark. Doing nothing. Sounds pretty great, right?
Does anyone come to your house and demand that you share your car with your friends? Or your iPod? Or your tv? I doubt it. But your child is being told that he must share his property whenever any of his friends ask, simply because it’s “nice”?
What would you say about a restaurant that would not allow you to select your meal, didn’t care at all if you found the food disgusting and further insisted you eat every morsel on the plate? Then, on top of that, they attempted to bribe you to eat their disgusting food with a delicious dessert but if you didn’t eat their disgusting food, they would not allow you to leave? Would you enjoy eating there? Or would you put up a huge fuss? Dare I even say, a tantrum?
We say children are bad because they are stubborn and talk back. But when we are adults, and life throws us curve balls, isn’t it really good to be stubborn and talk back? Those are the people who make it in this world. The ones who just won’t give up. The ones who can fight back with words and actions. Why aren’t we celebrating these qualities?
I look at my children as human beings who were given to me as a gift.
My job is to teach them the skills they need to become independent and successful adults. While I am firmly in charge, I teach them with love and respect. I am thankful that I was chosen to be their mom. They are who they are for a reason. I have neither the responsibility or the right to mold them, break them or change them. I am charged with teaching them to manage their personalities and harness their energy so every aspect of who they are can be utilized for good in this world. I did not create them. They were gifted to me whole and perfect. They came to me, entrusted to my care, expecting to be taught how to thrive in this world. That is a huge responsibility I embrace with humility and grace.
I don’t always get it right. Kids can be really frustrating. But it’s not because of what they do or don’t do. It’s that I don’t always know exactly how to effectively teach them. It’s my job, not theirs, to guide them to adulthood. They are simply trying to do their best. They don’t always achieve that. And when they fail, I have to get them back on the right path again. But I also have to get them there with love, dignity and the same respect I want in life.
So forget the labels. Have the courage to treat your children the way you want to be treated. You can lead them and guide them with a clear vision of the path you want them to walk, but you can do so while still keeping in mind that your kids are human beings. They may be little, but they deserve all the rights of any other human being and it is up to you to protect them. Your children are a gift as well as a responsibility. Never forget that.
Do you have a specific parenting style or philosophy? How did you come to believe what you practice? Have your beliefs ever changed?
- Things that Bug Me: Numero Uno – Back Talking (spiritusacris2016blog.wordpress.com)
- “I’m sorry” is a handy phrase for all (whatfamiliesdo.net)
- Why I’ll Never Have To Spank My Kids (30sandbeyond.wordpress.com)
- Trying to be a Positive Discipline parent… but it is so hard. (pooponmyhands.com)