For the most part I despise books telling me how to raise my kids. Most of them have the common theme of, “Be afraid, be very afraid,” and try to pound in the idea that everything a mother does is going to traumatize her children for life. That said, I’ve still read an awful lot of them. So far I’ve found 2 that I could atleast agree with theoretically.
The first is The Magic Years, I like the matter of fact approach to child developement, the idea that normal kids experience all kinds of emotions and aren’t traumatized by them. It’s an old classic and is more reassuring than frightening.
The second is The Manipulative Child. The premise of the book is that we don’t have to fix everything for our kids, that they are capable and adaptable and that the best thing we can to is to encourage them to be independent. It is an approach to the whole self-esteem thing that I really like to: we cannot give our kids self-esteem, self-esteem comes from their own knowledge of themselves, of being able to take care of themselves and make their own ways in the world.
Both of these books share basic tenents with one of my new favorite blogs. Free Range Kids. Kids aren’t going to break. They won’t be traumatized by being expected to go play. They don’t need my hovering and interfering with their every move.
My son had a near-fatal illness right after he turned 1. I was a little more than just over protective after that. He also missed the stage where 1 year olds start trying to do for themselves. J is going through that stage right now and only now to I see how crucial it is, how badly I screwed up by not getting PB back on track then, by being so wrapped up in my own fear of losing him that I didn’t think enough about helping him learn to take care of himself.
I’m learning how to support my kids in taking care of their own business rather than just taking care of them. They need to be able to meet their own needs, to know that they can-do, to be able to learn and grow on their own.
It is hard to buck the hyper-parent trend and back off. Almost all of the messages we get as mothers are that there is a danger arounf every corner, that we must be constantly vigilant and involved. The “you’re a bad mom” thing has gotten way out of hand. But I’m learning to say “NO!”
I had hoped to talk a bit about learning to separate, about how hard it is to watch kids grow from helpless and part of your body to active little people who tie their own shoes and pour their own milk, but I’ve already gone over my time so I’ll have to get back to that later. Remind me if I don’t.