Thursday, 21 March 2013

Respectful parenting

One thing I love about the way we have come to live is that any 'rules' or family philosophies apply to everyone in the household. We don't have a list of rules pinned on the wall, essentially we just live respectfully of one another. Sometimes this is hard: when someone is angry or frustrated, or when those mainstream voices creep in to make us doubt our ways.

It means that it is not unheard of for our four year old to remind myself or his father that we are not being fair. We are happy with this and want our son to question things he feels are wrong. He has realised lately that staying calm and talking to us often leads us to a result that we are all happy with.

It means that just as our son should not lash out at us, we should not lash out at him.

It means that no one is forced to eat food they dislike - how can I make my son eat carrots when I won't eat peas? Out of respect for me and my limited energy I cook one meal, but I try to ensure that everyone has something they like on their plate. I trust that, by taking this approach, my son will grow up to have a healthy view of food and will incorporate an even wider range of foods as he grows older.

It means that while most things are for family use, it is right to ask before using someone's personal belongings and if possible they will honour that respect by saying yes. My son asks before using my phone, I ask before using his DS.

It isn't a philosophy that myself or my husband were used to or necessarily comfortable with when we first became parents. It isn't an approach we knew we would take. It is away from the 'normal' approach of parents ruling over children, the belief that children can't be trusted. It doesn't mean that if my son ran into the road that I wouldn't grab him, in the same way that if my husband was in danger I would grab him too!

It means that my son is not treated as someone who will one day be a person, but as a person already.

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