I’d love to say that I always follow my instincts. That I stick to my parenting principles, no matter who’s watching. That I act with 100% integrity and no fear of others.
After all, these aren’t things that I came up with overnight, or on a whim. My parenting beliefs are the result of many months of debate, reading, research and trial and error! They resonate with my ethics and my faith.
But sadly, I’d be lying.
Bespoke Daddy and I have spent long evenings discussing what type of family dynamic we want to create.
I’m a huge fan of letting children explore freely – experimenting with how high they can jump, how loud they can shout, what they can climb, etc. I don’t believe in forcing them to share before they are developmentally able to… or forcing them to share at all, for that matter! (When was the last time you were forced to share your coffee? Your iPhone? Your jumper? But that’s a whole different post.)
So back to how I feel about their ‘behaviour’: You know, that word, which carries overtones of condescension, and which has shifted away from its original meaning to imply that they aren’t doing what they should. That they aren’t being ‘good’. What is even meant by ‘good’ in this context? I would argue that it really means quiet, submissive, conformist, obedient. And that is NOT what I want for my children.
I one hundred percent want to fight for my kids’ rights to be kids, and not worry what other people think. Unfortunately, I am human, and get all too self-conscious about the dirty looks from people when my babies are being noisy or messy in restaurants, for example.
Yes, in my head I am thinking:
“They have every right to be here, if you don’t like it, you can jog on.”
But sometimes I find myself compromising: shushing them, or giving them snacks loaded with fruit sugars to keep them quiet.
And I struggle to ignore the ‘concerned’ looks from helicopter parents at the soft play centre or the playpark, when I am watching my son crawling further and further away (always within my sight, but from his perspective he is enjoying unsupervised play.) So, instead of letting him relish his emerging independence, I find myself hovering closer and closer. Not because it’s in his interest, but because I am reacting to the tacit judgement of others.
Why am I not more consistent? In an ideal world, the world of Unschooling, Montessori, Baby-led Weaning and Respectful Parenting, I’d stick to my guns whatever happened, and never compromise. But sometimes you have to go gentle on yourself. Perfectionism does NOT lead to a happy home.
So. In light of my own flaky disposition, how do I incorporate these ideas into a bespoke parenting model? This is one area where I do strive to completely stick to these principles. (Strive being the operative word…) However, I try to make up for the inevitable, all-too-frequent lapses by apologising to my children (even though they aren’t yet 1 year old – it’s habit I want to instill early.)
Apologising for the times I let them down due to fear of others. Owning the mistake, talking through how the situation made all of us feel, resolving to do better next time.
And forgiving myself for not being a perfect moral Supermum!
…Oh, and maybe putting down some newspaper under their highchairs, when we eat out!