Is parenting a battle of wills and a matter of training? Or can we learn from our children, be childlike ourselves, and understand the complexity of their little hearts and minds?
I try hard to fall in the latter category, although it’s difficult. Every day, I wake up with a cup or two of french-pressed coffee and (try) to devote myself to being in the moment with my daughter. To ignore my cell phone, to not be distracted and flit from one activity to another, to consciously enjoy our meals and rituals together.
Children, if allowed, do this so naturally. They have such focus and diligence and creativity, when we the parents stay out of their way. As a relatively young parent (and someone who has taught high school and currently college), I see the way my generation tends to parent. We hover. We narrate their every action (wow, Sally, you did a great job eating breakfast. Now you’re drinking your milk, yay!). But should we be doing so?
As I read more educational and parenting philosophy, I think that letting children simply be might be appropriate in more situations than one would think. Sometimes I bite my tongue to keep from shouting “good job,” a phrase so engrained in our society, that I’m afraid we don’t even know the difference anymore between responsibility and achievement. We’ve made them one in the same, both in our homes and schools.
So how do we let our kids be kids? As Maria Montessori said, “follow the child.” Observe, watch how they interact with their environment. Comment if you must, but keep it brief and neutral. I think there is so much to learn from our children, to understand the excitement of playing in the first snow of the season or the joy of having blueberry pancakes for dinner.
Life is truly beautiful in its simplicity, if we allow it to unfold naturally.
And as my daughter grows and meets the challenges that come her way, my jaded view of life fades away, and it is an amazing thing. Please, my friends, use today to view life through the eyes of a child. See things anew, enjoy the simple moments from what they are, and celebrate life’s triumphs as a child would.