Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Modern Parenting; Are we too involved?

True life confession. I am in perpetual angst when my daughter is playing with other children (especially when I perceive them to be rougher) at parties, on jungle gyms, jumping castles and most especially trampolines. Although away from the action I am near enough to keep a vigilant eye on any misbalance, fall or push that may require my swift involvement to prevent either severe injury or tears. I anticipate the response from most people to be along the lines of, ' let children be children' or 'only when they fall will they ever learn'. I reluctantly agree with those sentiments hence I don't ever stop her form playing unless I deem it to be too dangerous. Case in point. At a recent party, Siddiqa and a friend climbed to the top of a 2m high jumping castle and sat precariously atop it whilst other children bounced around inside. Had she fallen, the wrong way, she would have hit the ground awkwardly and after a near slip, I went up to them and asked them to play someplace else as it was dangerous to sit there. They complied unquestioningly (rare, I know) unaware of the danger that they had been in.

That experience had got me thinking. Why was it that I do not recall my parents having the same problems? One possible answer is that they did not love me but my sister assures me that I am #1 in their eyes. The reason was simple. My parents, like most of their generation, were not constantly at my side as I was growing up. They never accompanied me to birthday parties, played with me in the park or took me on play dates. They never insisted I wear a helmet when I rode my bicycle (although they did try and restrict where I was allowed to ride), never knew and hence stopped me from climbing trees or playing in the bush. Unfortunately I understand that times have changed and that the world is not as safe as it used to be, but I just wanted to share my realisation with you. I have no solution or advice otherwise I would not be spending my Saturday mornings deciding whether it would be quicker to clamber over the poolnet or leap over the potplants to get to my daughter if she needs me. 

On the topic of parenting, I also believe that all the newsletters, books and TV shows that claim to have all the answers have , in a way, set us up for failure. We take in all this advice and research and begin to believe that somebody out there has the solution. I think we need to cut our children some slack. Tonight my daughter slept 2 hours later than expected (hence I am still blogging at 1 am) and initially I found myself getting upset with her. Why was she misbehaving? Why does she not just sleep? The truth was that she was not misbeving and I was glad that I made that realisation. She just slept in bed and tried to close her eyes but could not sleep. If anything, she probably inherited that from me. Kids are kids and 'misbehavior' every now and again should not be a sign to involve a child psychologist or start searching the internet on' how to raise a respectful child'. Don't stop following the research or reading books on parenting. It is egotistical to think that we inherently have all the answers. The point I am trying to make is that even if you follow all the 'right' advice, your child could still have a bad day every now and again. Accept it, and move on. As parents, we need to differentiate between those incidents and a recurring problem. 

My favourite parenting books btw are;

Raising an amazing child: The Montesorri way
The Science of Parenting, and
Playful Parenting

I found that the concepts introduced in these books appealed to my daughter. It may not appeal to your child but I assure you that there is an author out there who has ideas on how to better raise your child.

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