Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Parenting Style

I don't generally use this blog as a platform to discuss how I raise Jonas, but as he becomes more of a "little person" and less of a baby, I've been thinking a lot about parenting style and discipline. What good is a blog if you can't ruminate "out loud"?

Jonas is a very assertive toddler. He's also a great communicator, especially for someone that is still learning how to properly put words together. This makes it a lot easier for me to talk things out with him when he gets frustrated. The greatest gift my mother gave me in raising me was to speak to me on a simplified version of an adult level. I speak to Jonas just as I would a friend, co-worker, or contemporary...just a little more basic.

Last night, he was refusing to take his medicine. We've never had this problem, as it is part of his routine from birth. In hindsight, I know he was just overtired, but it was extremely frustrating. After several attempts at calmly explaining why it was important, chasing him down, etc.; I finally just scooped him up in my arms and sneaked it in his mouth. I felt terrible. If I had just been patient and given him a minute to calm down, I'm sure he would've complied. Moments like this are a struggle. Of course he needs to know who's in charge. I am the parent, the one he looks to for approval and guidance. I know I need to be firm but fair. Every experience with him is a lesson in treating him with kindness and respect, without becoming a pushover myself.

Things I try to remember/enforce with Jonas:

~I'll NEVER, EVER strike him under any circumstances. He is not an animal or a piece of garbage. He is my child, a human being with feelings. Furthermore, he is a human being that is not capable of rationalizing right from wrong. He is still learning. We
all make mistakes. Being punished for hitting a speed bump on the path to doing the right thing makes no sense.

~I will try my best not to raise my voice. On days he tests my patience, I try to remind myself that he hasn't had the life experiences of an adult. He is a very easygoing child with a happy disposition. He will inevitably do something I don't like, but it is my job to correct him patiently, with a level head.

~Speaking of patience, I will allow him extra time and space to explore. If this means leaving the house 10 minutes early to let him stroll to the car, stopping to say hello to every lizard and squirrel, so be it. From his perspective, everything is new. He hasn't traveled the same path for years, he is taking in his surroundings. It's not defiance, it's the gathering of knowledge and information.

~I will not hover over his every move. As long as I am at a safe distance where he can be monitored in case of emergency, he'll be just fine. Holding his hand through every move in life now sets a precedent for hand-holding as an adult. He will ask for my help when he gets stuck. Allowing him to safely explore his independence will make him more well-rounded later in life.

~No matter what, I will always support him. No one leads a perfect life. Life is a messy thing, and we stumble at times. If I do the best job I can raising him, he will make good choices. Whether he decides to become a cello player, zoo keeper, fireman, or restaurant manager...he will have my blessing 110%. As long as he is working toward his goals and making the life for himself that he desires, that is all I can ask for.

These are just a few things. Every day Jonas teaches me as much as I teach him.
If you're a parent, I'm sure you can relate. What has being a parent taught you?