I’m not the typical Mother. Well, maybe I am and I just don’t know it. Maybe others feel this way and just don’t talk about it. The thing is… I’m uninterested.
And I don’t mean I’m uninterested in my children themselves, I’m simply uninterested in parenting the way society tells me I’m supposed to. If I parented the way that our culture tells us to, I’d be engaged in soul-sucking struggles all freakin’ day long and I’d be ignoring my own inner wisdom. I think one of the reasons my children chose me as a Mother is because they knew I would be open to raising them differently. Am I a better Mother than everyone else because I parent differently? Ha! Absolutely not. Every child choses their parents for specific reasons (including parenting styles) and we’re all doing exactly what we should be doing (believe it or not some souls choose to incarnate into difficult home situations because it sets the stage for them becoming who they are meant to be…but that’s a whole ‘nother post).
So what are the things I’m uninterested in?
* Potty training. Three kids and 10 years in, I’ve never done it. Not interested. I figure when my kid is ready he’ll let me know. I’ll occasionally ask when changing a diaper if my boy might want to try going in the toilet, and it’s met with no’s for the longest time until it’s met with a yes. That’s my extent of potty training. They all figure it out eventually. And since they all do it when THEY are ready to, we’ve never had an accident. Which is a good thing, ’cause I’m soooo not interested in accidents.
* Forcing vegetables or other “healthy” foods down my kids throats. I’m not interested in teaching my children that some foods are better than others, and that they can only have the “fun” stuff after they’ve choked down the disgusting, “good-for-you” stuff. In my head and heart any food coercion is not healthy. Instead I offer them a variety of snacks and food, putting gummy bunnies right next to the carrots and black olives. All get eaten. No food gets labeled as “good” and “bad”. When they pick up from someone else about foods being healthy or unhealthy and ask me about it, I simply say “Any food eaten with joy is healthy.” And that’s just a damn fact. So making my kids fear food in any way? Yeah, not interested.
* Milestones. I don’t give a crap how old my kids are when they learn to walk, talk, read, swim, or ride a bike. I don’t think the earlier the better. I think doing these things in their own time is better. My oldest boy wasn’t interested in learning how to ride a bike until he was 9 years old. Because he was ready and had the strength, he literally figured it out in 10 minutes. And while others were teaching their kids how to swim at 2-3 years old, mine learned at ages 5 and 8…and that’s because we were putting in a swim pond in our yard. I’m learning as we go, that even though they may wait longer than others to do certain things, when they are intrinsically ready they learn very quickly.
* Time outs, grounding, punishments or taking things away. Yeah…don’t do those. Doesn’t feel right to me. I want my boys to know that I’m on their team and that I respect their feelings. If someone does something deemed as “wrong”, we have more of a time-in. I hug my child, talk about their feelings and maybe some other ways to handle it. Of course sometimes when I’m exasperated I’ll just scream “Can’t you all just get along, dammit?!!” That still works because then they are united against an exasperated Mama and unwittingly I just put them on the same team again.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Some might say my parenting style is lazy, because I mostly let them self-govern, self-regulate, self-learn, and self-direct. But they’re not crazy, out-of-control kids and they’re certainly not spoiled brats. They’re respectful of themselves, their parents, their friends, and other people.
Do I know what I’m doing all the time? Hell no! Not only have I never parented this way before, I’ve never SEEN this way of parenting modeled. I’m am certainly not confident that I always know what’s best. But as I see my kids grow I’m learning to trust the direction we’ve taken. They not only trust me, most importantly they trust themselves. And that’s the most important thing of all.