This was inspired by this post by Danya Martin.
There isn’t a lot that I can say about parenting, while I may read a lot about it I generally look at how I parent as an extension of how I live my life, of course that means that it shifts with the seasons and time. However, I have one parenting theory that have held fast to since the beginning, one that I realized early in my pregnancy.
One winter day I was at the bank. It was cold outside, one of those windy Denver days, but the bank itself was quite warm. The line was long and slow. A few people in front of me was a mother with a small child, the child really wanted to take their jacket off because they were so hot. The mother kept stopping the child until a battle started with the mother’s argument being that it would be too much work to put the jacket back on before they left, even if the line was creeping along and the child had been brought to the bank, late in the day. To this mother the inconvenience of having to re-zip her child’s jacket was more important than that child’s comfort.
Being pregnant I had become totally aware of how other people delt with their kids. I watched this interaction, one I must have seen tens of times over my life, and realized that this was one of the most ineffective and mean ways to parent. If you are going to take your child to do grownup things at a grownup pace then you should make it the most comfortable for them as possible. The prickle of heat in a winter jacket in the bank was something that I could feel. Why was it so important to the mother that she not have to zip one jacket, in the realm of things the thirty seconds that it would take to put the jacket back on would have save ten minutes of arguing with her child. It made no sense to me.
In that moment I vowed that I would always let my child be comfortable if I was taking them to do activities that were focused on me. That means, I check with Alder on entering the bank or anywhere if he is too hot. Or making sure we have a box of crackers to snack on as we make our way through the isles of the grocery store. I also know that if I have a lot to get done in a day and Kevin is working, that spending a period of focused time on A early in the day doing things that he wants at his speed makes him a much happier companion later on. He feels valued and loved and therefore is willing to return these feelings.
As I have explored this idea further it seemed pretty obvious that this sharing of love and respect was a good basis for a mother child relationship. I remember discussing this with someone whose main point seemed to be that “children always wanted to get their way“. But isn’t that exactly what the parent is pushing on them? The parents way, their wants? Why are those two things so often seen as oppositional?
I look at my role with my son as one of Mama, that means I am there to guide him through the world, comfort him, help him to understand what it means to be human in a community, as well as be a creative wild child other times. If I am doing this right he is seeing how his needs as well as other people’s can be brought together rather than become a conflict. He learns these things by watching Kevin and I and experiencing them. We all want our own way, it is just a matter of creating a space where my way and your way work together.