What my daughter taught me about being a parent
Welcome to the June 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting:
Parenting in Theory vs. in Reality
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants are sharing how their ideas and methods of parenting have changed.
I love the theme of this month’s Carnival of Natural parenting, because we’re discussing a topic that is close to my heart.
And one of the biggest learnings in my entire life!
It’s also helped me become a better person – less judgmental in a “don’t judge a person until you’ve walked two moons in their moccasins” kinda style.
I was a fantastic parent; the best parent ever in fact…
But then I had a child of my own.
I would see children screaming in the supermarket, hear parents shouting in public and see children half unclothed, completely unwashed and eating junk food.
If only they knew, right?
If only *I* knew!
When I was pregnant I knew exactly what I needed to do and how to be the best mother. It involved being gentle and respectful, and allowing my child to take responsibility for their own life and to be part of the decision-making process; amongst other things.
Some things fell readily into place like co-sleeping and breastfeeding.
But the part about being gentle and part of the decision-making process?
Well my daughter came with a different agenda!
When my daughter was exploring her Will, around the age of 18 months she started to show me that what she actually wanted was boundaries.
She demanded routine, structure and rules.
I was giving her rhythm, spontaneity and more of a democratic upbringing.
So she pushed, shook boundaries and anything that wasn’t 100% secure was torn down; both literally and metaphorically.
Although I practice gentle and attachment parenting, I am someone who needs her own space. I feel part of gentle parenting is about parenting yourself and getting your own needs met.
So bedtimes were a challenge.
In order to be a good mother I need some time in the evening to myself.
I truly admire families who have a family bedtime and spend 24/7 together but it’s not for me.
One day, after my daughter had come down for the tenth time and I was feeling angry and resentful she told me exactly what she needed:
“I need you to lock my bedroom door”. she said.
Can you imagine!?
As a gentle parenting, attachment parent how could I EVER lock my child in a room?
My child’s soul implored me to explore the importance of perception.
I was PERCEIVING locking a child in their room to be inhumane, cruel and abusive.
But my daughter perceived it as a secure boundary.
We talked about it, I checked, she was sure.
So I did.
With my heart in my mouth I locked my baby’s bedroom door.
She giggled on the other side of the door.
I heard her get up to check the door.
Then she went back to bed and for the next half hour or so she talked to herself animatedly until she fell asleep.
I had a peaceful evening.
She had a great night’s sleep.
The following day she asked me to do it again – and again and again – for a year or so.
It never felt good, but it taught me an awful lot about perception and about myself.
Most of all it taught me to trust my daughter to know how to get her needs met.
If anyone had told me 12 years ago I would lock my child in her room every night for a year I would say they were insane – what sort of a mother do you take me for!?
But I did and my daughter has taught me many things about the importance of perception since.
I’m guessing I’ll get judged and slated for writing this post.
But I used to judge and slate parents; until I was one…
What about you; what has your child taught you about parenting?
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