Sometimes I’d like to hang up my parent hat, just for a day or two. The oh-so-constant vigilance required is exhausting.
This weekend we have a couple of cousins staying with us. Yesterday was all go, morning till night. Colouring, picnics, salt dough beads, painting, stories, dancing, bubble bath and sleep over. By the time all the little people were asleep my feet hurt and I still had the stove to clean and paint on the floor. I was about to get out the mop when my mom suggested we wait until after breakfast in the morning. Wise woman she is.
I let them stay up a little too late, make a little too much noise, let them have more toys at once than usual, and we all had a little bit of a holiday. I remember those weekends at my grandmother’s when the kids had the run of the basement and the sense of seclusion and freedom at being able to play as we wished without adult interference. And some of those same weekends when we needed adult intervention when things were carried too far.
I was speaking with another young mother recently who said she doesn’t want to limit her children’s freedom to act and be as who they want to be. She considers this non-limiting influence as important as giving them healthy food to eat and guarding them from coarse language. I admire the sentiment, but I must admit that at the tender ages of two and four I think it’s a little early for them to be making too many decisions on their own.
I don’t know that I have a real philosophy for raising children, but among my aims are to form them in good habits, morals, values and teach them what life is all about. My girls need to be formed in truth so that they can go on to live it. I believe in granting a child freedom, as their dignity requires, but I don’t hold with the current understanding of freedom as simply a licence to do whatever we want. As my husband and I understand it giving our children freedom means training them in truth so they recognize it and know how to live it. Feeding them a steady diet of good food (actual food, healthy relationships, work, play, prayer, rest, service, family life, etc.) should lay a foundation for them to recognize what and who they want to live for. This in turn should help them make those life decisions based on something real, rather than having to guess or go only on a gut feeling or instinct.
No pressure then.
So I won’t apologize for the fact that in our house, dad and I make decisions and guide our girls through. They do have choices; apples or carrot sticks, what clothes to wear, park or playdough – enough to learn how to be decisive, not so many as to have to choose their own direction. At least not yet.