Thursday, 10 March 2011

Good Girl

I'm committed to gentle parenting (although I admit, I slip up pretty often,) but sometimes my resolve waivers. It's not easy swimming upstream. If I were to take a more controlling parenting path, which thanks to my bossy personality would be very easy for me to do, wouldn't life be easier? Ignoring tantrums may cause a child to repress big feelings, but then don't we all do that to some extent? Not having to deal with stares and tuts would be a real benefit. Making Alice apologise if she snatches or pushes, reminding her to say please and thank you on cue. Little niceties like that would make her seem so much more appealing to others, and would reflect well on me too. When she's older, if I made it clear I was the boss, and expected no talking back, she'd be far less challenging than a child who speaks her mind.

All this may be true. I do sometimes look at the archetypal 'good' child, and regret that the way I am bringing Alice up is unlikely to produce such a paragon. We may think we've come a long way from the Victorian tenet that children should be seen and not heard, but in reality, that's still what we imagine to be a good child. One who doesn't interrupt when the grown ups are talking. One who parrots stock phrases, regardless of his true feelings. One who obeys without question 'Because I said so.'

In answer to my original question, yes life probably would be easier. For me. But when I became a parent, my priorities shifted. It's not about me any more. It is my responsibility to guide my daughter to become a happy, well adjusted adult. We don't value blind obedience in adults, nor do we appreciate falseness. If I am to help her to become a woman who is confident in accepting and dealing with her feelings, I have to show her that I accept them. I don't want her to be polite out of habit or sense of duty, I want her to do it because she respects her fellow human beings.

While Alice is still growing up, she may be vocal about her feelings, she may not conform to social expectations. The choices we've made as parents are unlikely to be the easy option, but it's my hope that they will help her to become a confident, empathetic, free thinking woman.

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