Friday, October 15, 2010

figuring things out...

i feel the need to write about parenting.  i often want to share my thoughts, but even more often, feel unqualified... or that it's not my place.  but i'm going to take the plunge.

part of my desire for wanting to write is because i have a need to explain my own actions.  and that's something that i'm dealing with.  right now, though, that's where i am, so explaining my own actions is what i'm going to do.

another part of my desire is that i want to share what i've learned.  what i've learned as a teacher and what i've learned as a parent.  so much of what i've learned is from being in the classroom... and then SO MUCH MORE of what i've learned is from being a parent.  and it has, in fact, changed what i learned in the classroom.

so, from here on out, i'd like to post about parenting every so often.  and not so much about "parenting"... but about being a mom... and the ways that i experience life with leo.  because we're doing this together.

that said...

first topic:

let's not figure it out...

as parents, we're so inclined to fix things.  that's what we're supposed to do, right?  if leo's hurt, i want to make it better.  if he's uncomfortable, i want to comfort him.  if he's sad, i want to make him happy.

that's natural.  but sometimes, fixing things only takes care of the present issue.  and nothing further.

take, for example, a sharing incident.  someone wants a toy that leo has.  and leo doesn't want to share it.  i can step in, and "help", by telling leo he should share his toys, by finding another toy for the other child to play with, by counting until it's "time to share", etc.   and then the "sharing" happens, essentially.

now, the belief may be that here, leo and the other child learned either to share the toys or that another toy will be provided.

but what else have they learned?  that when he doesn't want to share, he will be forced to.  or his feelings or words don't matter... even if he's sad about this, he has to share what he's playing with.  or that one's child desire to play with a toy is more important than leo's desire to play with it.  or well, he doesn't really need to share, because someone's going to bring another toy around eventually. 

what i like to do is just wait it out.   this might be hard.  really hard.  as long as no one's getting hurt... just wait it out.  it's amazing what kids can figure out themselves.  without us "teaching" them.

today, i heard myself counting to leo when he didn't want to share something that another little girl wanted.  and while i was counting, that little girl was completely content to not have the toy.  she had moved on.  meanwhile, leo was having a meltdown because i was "teaching" him how to share.

moments later, leo wanted something another child had.  and we waited.  he got a little upset.  the other child held her ground.  she saw that he got upset.  he asked again.  she took her time.  and then they traded toys.  they figured it out.  without my help.

it's not lazy parenting.  it's not not parenting.  in fact, sometimes i feel that it's harder not to intervene than it is to intervene.  especially, for me, because i worry too much about what the other parents might think while my child (or theirs!) is getting upset and i'm not doing anything about it.  when, in reality, i AM doing something.  i'm giving my child the opportunity to use his words... to listen to others' words... to express his emotions... to formulate solutions on his own and with the help of his peers...

without me figuring it all out for him.


  1. You are so right! It's a real challenge for me to step back and wait it out, especially when it comes to my boys and their disagreements. Levi is about to turn two and he is figuring all of this out. Luke is just getting to the stage where he is understanding sharing. It's interesting, to say the least!

  2. I have a similar parenting style. I like to sit back and let them figure things out for themselves. And I was doubting myself today, funny enough, I was with another mom, and I heard her sort of narrating the situation to the kids, prodding them to do this or that, while I sat there quietly. In that moment, I wondered, should I be doing the same thing? And my answer was no. I want my kids to follow their own instincts, as much as possible, and learn from them.
    PS - you should write about parenting more often. :)

  3. I just watched that documentary, Babies, the other day.
    I love the contrast between the african baby and all of the others. the way life just proceeds with bare naturals.......none of this figuring out, just imagining them having a "playdate" and worrying about how they're disciplining or perceived for how they're disciplining.

  4. This is so true and great to hear another parent put it into words. I have twin boys so sharing is a daily issue. My husband and I try to let the boys work things out on their own, and make sure that they aren't too possessive of their shared toys. It is a fine line for sure. Most of the time they will end up trading each other for what the other one is playing with and that is really sweet to see.

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