I haven’t written recently about any blunders or victories in the world of parenting despite the fact that this is what most of my days primarily consist of.
I’ve tossed around the idea of sharing the most recent happenings with sleep, toileting, attachment, meal times, and all of the usual topics that surround life with young children. Despite the topic, I’ve circled back to the same conclusion in my parenting choices and what we are practicing.
To trust my instinct as a mother, and to trust and follow the child.
This is a concept first introduced to me while teaching that has become a large part of my beliefs and parenting.
Society can often tend to view things like respecting the child as an individual, seeing children as capable of having opinions worth valuing, and working towards cooperation and not compliance as being completely irrational and bizarre.
A six-month-old capable of making choices? Impossible.
The two-year-old has likes and dislikes? Not happening.
It seems we are often led to believe that because they are children, they are somehow less than worthy of the respect and consideration we give to each other as people. So the accepted norm seems to be years and years of being spoken down to, having no voice of their own, and being told they are incapable of “adequate” decision-making. In the blink of an eye they have grown up, are expected to suddenly make their own choices, lead and not follow, and fend for themselves all without any major faltering or setbacks.
For me this expectation seems highly unrealistic.
Speaking within reason, the faltering or poor decision-making of a 3-year-old will likely be far less detrimental long-term than that of an 18 or 20-year-old.
Of course I’m not going to let my two-year-old run into the street just because he wants to. I also have no intentions of buying every toy he decides to pickup in the Target just because he wants it.
This trust and following is not about never saying no, or a complete lack of boundaries.
It is more so about intentionally choosing when and how to intervene based on the child’s best interest, and not based on complete control or making the child emotionally obligated to the adults around them.
For me trusting and following the child may look like allowing our son to choose when he would like to eat, or be finished with meals and snacks. Allowing him to respectfully decline or disagree to hugs and kisses, invitations to play, or when he participates in activities. Giving him choices when it comes to sleeping in his own bed or if he feels the need to be a bit closer and co-sleep for the second half of the night. Following his lead and level of comfortability in being left alone or with people other than my husband and myself. Trusting that the child is inherently worthy and capable. Remembering that although he may not be ready yet, or eating 3 square meals a day yet, or sleeping through the night 100% of the time yet, or completely toilet trained yet. . .
He will get there.
In his own time, in his own way, and of his own will and self-motivation. Not because the was forced into being there for anyone elses convenience.