Being Your Childs Partner
There are many different theories on how to bring up kids out there, from extreme control and authoritarianism, to extreme permissivness and neglect. Most parents fall somewhere along that line. But if you consider a radically different view point for a moment, there is another way that most people don’t even know exists. I like to call it being your childs partner.
So lets explore this using the mainstream middle of the road ‘traditional parenting’ model as a first example.
This school of thought says I have to control my kid to get him to do what I want, for conveinience, for safety, for my own ego or for acceptance of those around me. There will be constant power struggles going on as I keep trying to bring him into line, and he keeps trying to rebel, retaliate or break free, or he may be the type to withdraw and give in, realising he is powerless and breaking his spirit in many ways. He’s likely to start hiding things from me at some point, and lying to me, as he knows the things he wants to explore could get him into trouble with me and punished. This could be quite dangerous if the things he wants to explore aren’t safe in some way.
So shifting the paradigm a little…..
The other school of though says I can have a close and loving relationship with my child, where we talk about all kinds of things, I respect his desires, needs and help him get what he wants. I offer him information about the world as we go through life and as there is no underlying manipulation or coersion going on, he trusts me and knows I always give him honest information based on the best of my ability. Becuase of this he is much freer to listen to what I have to say and make up his own mind about things rather than rebelling, lying or hiding things. He is more willing to cooperate when I need him to, as I always try to cooperate with him. When I have important information about safety, he listens as he knows I’m not just trying to frighten him into obeying me.
I don’t set arbitary limits on foods as I want him to learn what his body is telling him about the types of foods he eats, I want him to discover for himself how certain foods make him feel, we may talk about it together and explore the topic. I want him to listen to his body’s ‘full’ signals, and hungry signals, so he eats when he’s hungry and stops when he’s had enough. I want him to see all food for what it is, not make some of it ‘taboo’ or ‘special’ or a ‘treat’.
Because of this, he also doesnt have to withdraw or give up who he truly is. We find safe ways to explore the things he wants to so his natural learning and inquiry is left intact.
For me, being my childs partner is where its at in parenting terms. Its not always easy, but our house is a lot happier this way. Sometimes I don’t do it perfectly, normally when I’m a bit stressed or tired and trying to juggle 10 things at once, but I’m human and it’s also good for my kids to see that!
What are your thoughts on being your childs partner? Do you have some things you just can’t let go of, like food restriction or bedtimes? Would love to hear what you think!