Thursday, May 15, 2014

Advice that shaped my parenting style

I do not remember where I heard it or read it, but I have a mantra that I always follow.

"Your job as a parent is to create an independent adult."

That advice made its way to me several years ago, and it stuck. It lodged itself into the core of my parenthood and shapes how I teach and observe my children. I know so many parents who want to control everything, to shelter constantly, to answer for their children. Even mothers of teens; their children want to grow and explore and seek to build their independence, while the mother clings and restricts out of fear or a struggle against change.Safety is first and foremost, and rules should apply as needed for each individual child. But after safety comes trust, then allowance. As parents, we must allow the people we created to become the people they are meant to be. Even though the world is big. And sometimes scary. 

When Amelia was a toddler, I had a mom comment on how "laid back" I was on the playground.

While she hovered over every move her child made, I kept a healthy distance and allowed Amelia to explore. I remained vigilant to protect her from danger, but I did not fear a scraped knee. As she has grown into a smart, conscientious, amazing little girl, I have tried to consistently nurture her desire for independence. I allow her quiet time by herself, I let her try new things like unlocking the door with a key, cracking the eggs on her own, and choosing her own hairstyle. Now that she is a big sister, I allow her to pick up, hold, feed, and carry the baby. We have a healthy set of rules; she cannot pick him up without asking me first, she is never allowed to take him on stairs or outside, and she cannot feed him or give him toys without my permission and assurance that what she has is acceptable for an almost  4-month old.The pride I see in her eyes when she can hold her brother? It is priceless, and I know that I'm doing the right thing.

As Amelia and Andrew get older, I want to continue to look towards their future. I want them to be confident in who they are and their own accomplishments. I want to watch them ride down the hill on their bikes, all by themselves. I want them to understand how to study and perform their best in school, without excess parental pushing. I want them to get in their cars one day so I can watch them drive confidently to college, secure in knowing that I created some pretty awesome adults.

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