You know that feeling you get when you are on a theme park ride that suddenly drops? Your stomach leaps out of your body and you have to catch your breath. You get the same feeling when your car drives over a crest at speed. It feels like an ampule of adrenaline has been injected into your bloodstream as you take a moment to settle yourself.
Now imagine that you are brand new to this huge, open world; all you have known previously is a confined cavity. You have been unable to travel through air, as your surroundings came everywhere with you. You have felt cushioned bumps, jumps and ups and downs but it has all been experienced within the surety of the womb in which you have been enclosed.
And now you are out. Now your senses are bombarded with bright lights, loud noises and motion through space. It takes a while for your still-focusing eyes to adjust to all the stimuli you see and your vestibular system, the one that helps you find balance, is still trying to make sense of all the movement you are now experiencing. Life has suddenly gotten a whole lot faster and it can be stressful trying to keep up.
Before I learned of Magda Gerber’s respectful parenting approach I would have never thought to associate caregiving time (feeding, diapering, bathing etc) with quality time. Quality time, in my view, was time spent playing games with the children, having fun, going for icecream, running around with them at the park etc. It’s true, that these things can be quality time if done mindfully but I now know that the type of quality time Magda spoke about, Wants Something Quality Time, far surpasses these other types of quality times spent with children for many reasons.
She sobbed heaving sobs into my chest as I wrapped my arms around her. Her strong emotions spilled out as her tears soaked my shirt. I held her for the longest time; saying nothing, just listening and holding space for her to communicate to me her inner-most thoughts through her upset.
A thought flashed through my mind in that moment about how much I love it when my children have a meltdown. I didn’t always but I have learned over the years that so much good can come from them if I am accepting of the feelings that surface and hear the messages in their screams.
On Day 3 of RIE Foundations we closely examined play. We looked at its importance and how to create an environment optimal for a child’s play, including examining the significance of the parent-child relationship in the ability for a child to play.
It was a day of many aha moments for me. Would you believe, I didn’t think I would really have any aha moments over here? I thought I knew the ins and outs of respectful parenting and was just looking to deepen my understanding. Turns out, I have a lot to learn.
Day Two of RIE foundations and I relearned something I have known for a long while but still have trouble finding peace with – It’s okay if we’re not perfect.
This was not actually the main focus of the day, we were delving more into gross motor development in infants but somewhere along the way Mummy guilt came up from all the women in the room who had discovered RIE late – well after their babies were born.
If there is one phrase that has helped me more than anything else on my rollercoaster parenting ride, it is this little one.
This Phase, too, shall pass!
I can’t remember where I first heard it. It might have been whilst trawling through endless respectful parenting forums searching for answers or maybe as I read through the plethora of wise words on Janet Lansbury’s blog. Either way, they have been nothing short of a God send. They are my sanity savers.
I once read that the teenage years can be likened to the toddler years. Both stages of life are a time of significant developmental change. Toddlers and teens alike experience significant body and mind development that can have them behaving in ways you have never seen. Just as they are figuring out who they are, we, as parents, struggle to understand the child we once thought we knew inside out.
But the thing is, that is what they need from us most of all; to understand. The way we interact with our young children, the words we use, the intonation in our voice and even our body language can have a huge impact on whether they will feel comfortable talking to us about the big issues they will inevitably face as teens. If we are not empathetic and understanding of the ‘little things’ they face in their early years (which are actually big things to them) then chances are they will have a hard time opening up about the big things when they grow older.
Today, I choked back tears as I picked my youngest daughter up from her Family Day Care Mum for the last time. These emotions caught me by surprise as I was sometimes critical of this Mother’s care-giving methods, knowing they did not always align with my peaceful and respectful parenting philosophies.
What I realised today as I embraced this wonderful carer in what seemed like an empty gesture of gratitude, was just how thankful I am that she came into my daughter’s life. I understand now that when the care of my children is coming from a place of true kindness and love, the methods adopted do not always have to align with mine. This is an honest letter to her… Continue reading →