A friend of mine recently posted an article on facebook which both meshed with where my "parenting" philosophy has been heading, and also shook up my "parenting" world at the same time. It's called Parenting in Peace, and everyone who ever plans to have children or spend time with them should read it.
The author, Daisy Hall, gives a few pointers for parent-child interaction which are easily adapted to nanny-child, uncle-child, teacher-child, or any other circumstance with kids. I'll get to that in a minute, but it's the overall idea that really grabbed me. "Many parents are at 'war' with their children," she states in the second sentence, and that's where I had to pause. It's so true, in so many cases: childhood is a seen as a struggle for parents. Sleepless nights turn into terrible twos turn into "thank heaven you're in school," which turns into bratty behavior which turns into rebellious behavior. That's not exactly how I want to view the eighteen years after I give birth.
On a side note, I've been doing a lot of reading about natural birth and making it a more peaceful process. It doesn't make sense to dedicate nine months to easing a child into the world, only to spend the next two decades scolding him or her.
Back to Daisy Hall, and my mother. My mom's philosophy has always been "pick your battles." It's good to keep in mind, and makes it easier to let truly unimportant fights slide. But now it poses a new question to me: why are you expecting so many battles in the first place? Expect a few battles; parents do actually know better, and often have to make that clear. But the little things are rarely as important as they can seem.
Which brings me to pride. I realized this with Patrick the other day, when he was carrying around his ride-on Thomas train and saying "Heavy! Heavy!" I told him he should put it down because he could drop it or trip, and after about the third time, I thought- why am I so worried over this? It was unlikely he would hurt himself this way, plus, he was learning about carrying things and balance and all that two-year-old stuff. But I ran into another problem: I'm the adult, I'm the smart one, and I told him he couldn't carry it. I can't change my mind now! Now, there is something to be said for not letting kids think they can wear you down, but the less-acknowledged reverse side is that there's also a place for letting a child know you've made a mistake. So I told him that he could carry it, but to please be careful.
This is about to turn into a series, because I have to run to the grocery and pick up V's prescription. In the meantime, read Parenting in Peace and let me know what you think!