As a mom with young kids, I've come to understand that parenting and raising children can be two very different things. For me, I'm not someone who likes to overparent. I don't want to be so involved in my kids' lives and their every move that they're unable to do anything for themselves. On the other hand, I don't want to not be involved enough and have my kids run amok and have zero respect for authority. It's all about balance, and it's tough to find that balance, but my beliefs lean more toward trying to raise good, kind humans without too much intervention from me. Leading by example, enforcing a little tough love, and explaining the why behind my rules and expectations are the main ways in which I raise my kids. And you know what? I think they're turning out pretty awesome.
[Without my constant hovering,] my daughter figures out what to do and how to do it . . . all by herself. I don't need to always hold her hand.
My children don't look to me for entertainment because I'm not here to entertain them. This doesn't mean there isn't a time or place for me to play with them. I happily attend tea parties and build block towers, but it's important to me that they use their imaginations to do those things on their own. Nothing makes me prouder than when I send my daughter outside to play in the yard and she creates an entire fairy garden out of sticks, fallen bark, and dandelions. She figures out what to do and how to do it . . . all by herself. I don't need to always hold her hand.
I never considered myself a Type A mom until I watched my child take apart a whole project I built so she could use the materials for something else. It took everything I had not to interrupt her about how those materials "should" have been used. But how I picture things going rarely comes to fruition, and that's actually a good thing. Without my constant interrupting or hovering, my daughter learns to manipulate her environment to create what she sees in her own mind. This builds character and allows her to be firm and confident in her own decisions. Does she fail and want to give up sometimes? Of course! But when she does, I remind her she can always try another way or ask for help. My job as her mom isn't to figure out everything for her.
I'm not saying that my kids don't need some parental guidance, but for me, this comes in the form of a listening ear or setting clear expectations. For example, if they're bored on a Summer day, I'll tell them to go outside and not leave the backyard. The rest is up to them. I'm also not saying that this is the only way to go. Every child and parent are different. While this approach works for me and my kids, it may not work for everyone, and that's OK! We all learn from each other.
My goal is just to raise well-rounded individuals that can go out into society and be successful down the road, no matter what it is they choose to do. And believe me — there are plenty of tantrums, attitudes, and emotional fits along the way, but my kids also know that life lessons don't always have to come from me. If they scrape their knee while playing outside, I don't want them to think the world will end if I'm not there right away. I want them to brush it off and know they'll survive.
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