This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by "http://positiveparentingconnection.net/carnival-of-authentic-parenting/" target="_blank">The Positive Parenting Connection and "http://www.authenticparenting.info/p/carnival" target="_blank">Authentic Parenting. This month our participants are writing about this exploring and learning! Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I see so many parents day to day too stressed out, following their child around at the park saying things like “Don’t touch that”, “Don’t get your clothes dirty”, “Don’t run, you’ll fall”. I know we all have days, when we feel exhausted, cranky and on edge, and on those days it can be excruciatingly hard not to slip into that state of tension where we try to control every situation, solely so that we feel more in control of ourselves. I have those days too, and they SUCK...for everyone involved! The problem is when we grasp to control these situations we not only create a lot more tension and stress for ourselves and for our families, but we also hinder our children’s ability to freely explore and learn from their world.
I find on these days I have to remind myself to take a deep breath and let go of the metaphorical reins. By letting go of my own need for control I allow Bean to lead the way and show me a view of the world through her eyes. The less time I spend worrying about dirty clothes, grubby hands, and ‘germs’, the more time I spend connecting, exploring, and learning together with her.
Exploring and learning are what a child’s life is all about. Gazing at the world with eyes wide open, taking in every minute detail, using touch, taste and smell to thoroughly examine every new thing they encounter...this is how children get to know their world. As parents it’s an important part of our role to help facilitate this process and also to provide plenty of opportunities for exploration and learning to happen.
Often I find the best opportunities come along when we don’t have anything planned. On a day when I’ve been too tired to plan outings or activities in advance, and can’t be bothered to try and check anything off my eternal ‘to do’ list, fun ways to learn and explore arise from Bean’s natural curiosity. Helping Daddy break down branches in the back yard, taking a walk down the street and stopping to smell all the different flowers along the way, or emptying out a kitchen cupboard...these are all opportunities for exploration and learning. The key is to take the time to explore things with them - forget the schedule for a minute, slow down to their pace, get down on their level, interact and have fun!
As adults we tend to forget that children see the world so differently to us. To a child something we’ve seen thousands of times can be a great source of interest and excitement. A stick is not simply a stick, a puddle is not simply a mess – they have colour, texture, and are completely different from all the others on the ground. In order to appreciate this we need to let go and let our children re-educate us in the magic of discovery. When we let go of some of our adult preconceptions we open ourselves up to catching a glimpse of both their view of this world we share and most importantly of their inner world. This is how we gain a better understanding of who they are.
Parenting is in many ways is a continuous process of letting go. In the beginning when our lives are turned upside down by our newborn baby we practice letting go of selfishness – we let go of our previous lifestyle, alone time, social life etc. Then we can make room for nurturing a new life and spirit and free up our energies for the person who needs them most. When our baby becomes a toddler we practice letting go of fear and control. Suddenly this little being we spent many months protectively cradling in our arms is bustling around on stout little feet with their own fully-grown agenda. From toddler to child we keep letting go of the reins bit by bit, giving more and more freedom as abilities and maturity develop, whilst still being present to share in their delights and comfort their wounds. And so it goes...the more they grow up, the more we have to let go. And so we grow.
By giving our children the space, time, and opportunities to explore freely and learn in their own way and at their own pace, we also give ourselves permission to let go and once more see the world through child’s eyes, to grow up into an adult with a spirit that welcomes what we do not yet know.
P.s. A huge thank you to Jake for helping me edit this post, you are my team!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- "http://codenamemama.com/2012/09/28/what-was-i-thinking/">What Was I Thinking?