Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Lonely, but Happy Place to Parent

I am a believer. I believe in the power of the Mama Gut. I have mentally and emotionally believed in it always, conceptually anyway. But the last few weeks I have been challenged to put my trust and belief system into action. It is more difficult than I had imagined.
When your children are babies you get away with being viewed as overprotective. People expect it, find it silly and cute. They snicker and say that you will outgrow it soon and certainly by baby number two. To some degree this may be true, but I also think we give up on our mommy gut and intuition all too soon. I for one have found I have allowed myself to be overly influenced into the idea that my children need to be shoved out into the world in order to be socialized. Unfortunately being socialized apparently also means being afraid, intimidated and insecure. My kids are young, really young. Too young to be forced into feeling afraid about being away from Mama for sure. I believe children need require constant reassurance in the care and protection of their parents for as long as they need it; not for as long as we think they need it. It is easy parenting to tell yourself that your kids need to be socialized and therefore shoved out into the world away from you. It is easy to tell yourself that your kids benefit from a babysitter while you go out and recharge your batteries. It is hard to make the choice to remain available to the emotional and physical needs of your children 24/7. But interestingly enough, I am finding it is more difficult dealing with the judgment of others on this type of parenting that it is to actually practice it.

I have consistently found that in the quiet of our home, gentle parenting works wonderful with our children. None of us feel good, benefit or have lasting effects with harsh, domineering parenting. My kids respond to hugs and time-ins far more than shouting and time-outs. I find a time-out to say, “You were bad, made a bad choice and therefore I do not want you near me. Go away.” Now here is the thing. Yes, I understand that in “real life” peers and other adults may have this reaction to my kids. Anyone of us in the course of decision making run the risk of making a choice that others do not like and therefore will choose to not be in your company. That is a natural consequence. I as a parent do not need to turn my back on my child in order for them to learn this life lesson. Rather, I need to give them an example of gentle, loving care; of treating others with kindness and respect.

I find the concept that the world is a harsh place with people who will be displeased with you if you do not -fill in the blank- to be the wrong focus from which to make our parenting choices. To “train” our children to live and survive in a harsh world rather than give them the love and security they need to enter into it believing they can be kind and generous and make a difference (rather than have the skills to look out for number one) is the approach I wish to take. And let me say, it is not a popular one. Parenting this way means keeping your children close at all times. Letting them have access to you whenever they need it (yes this means at night and during your favorite TV show and phone calls), giving hugs and reassurance rather than punishment, and most importantly being in sync with your child to know what they are feeling so you can deal with the issue they are often unable to communicate. Children are not born manipulative so the idea of spoiling your children with your love, reassurance and attention is nuts in my opinion. We teach children to be manipulative by withholding what they need until they do what we want.

Research has proven that children who are the recipients of Attachment Parenting are more secure, outgoing and confident than those who are not. To read more on this from an actual expert, see what Dr. Sears has to say. You can also read more about Attachment Parenting here.

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