Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Against the Current Parenting

I am loving the "Stressed-Less Living" study over at Proverbs 31 Ministries.  It's funny, sometimes a study meets me where I need to be and sometimes I just don't connect.  This one is a definite connection.

In chapter 3, the chapter for last week, there was a section on parenting against the societal current.  I relate to this so much.  For me, it's combination of my value system and my years in education.  I do find myself flowing against the current when it comes to parenting and I sense that subtle disapproval.  Whether it's my pursuing of an "attachment parenting" style, my high amount of filtering media or the way I dress my kids, I often feel as though people are judging my choices.  It's an odd place to be because I am very sure that this is the right path for my family but it can really lead me to doubt myself sometimes.  I also am thrown into situations when I feel a bit left out with other moms, even some who are wonderful friends - it's not anything they do, it's my own internal struggle.

 I remember, when I was a student teacher, I did a placement at a school in a very affluent area.  These students had many opportunities, came from educated families and lacked for nothing.  Many of the kids were very successful in school but there were a few who really stood out.  One of the students was Ned (I can name him because it was years ago and he's probably in university now, ugh!)  He was just different.  He was calmer, he was so much more creative than the other kids.  The only thing that I could put my finger on was that his family did not allow video games or television.  I remember thinking at the time that he and his different way of approaching things was something that I wanted to remember.  I realise that it is a mistake to base everything on one child but it's a pattern I have noticed that longer that I teach.

I don't judge other parents for the choices that they make but I am pretty strong in the things I hold as being important for my children.  At times, that's hard.  For me personally, the longer I keep video games out of our home, the better.  So far, now that my children are young and Pk isn't especially interested anyway, it isn't a problem.  It also helps that I am not anti-computer (Pk and I watch things online and sometimes, I even let her play a bit), we just are extremely choosey about what she is allowed to use.  I have friends whose kids are on their various systems often and they buy early systems for their two year olds.  For me, that is incomprehensible.  Again, I think it's my teaching that has shaped me that way - the grey-faced boys who only ever talk about video games and who require so much stimulation.  If given a bin of blocks, they stare at you blankly and their attention span with books lasts 5 minutes at best.  Other children, the ones who play outside and have creative toys and are forced to entertain themselves, are the ones who never complain about being bored, love writing stories and are so much more engaged with the world around them.

The other thing that I am noticing more and more in my teaching, and that I want to avoid, are the children who are "old beyond their years."  Whether it's the t.v. they watch, the clothing they wear or the topics that they seem to be knowledgeable about, it makes me really sad to see that, as far as I can see, childhood is being lost.  It warms my heart that Pk and Lb still watch "Word World" together (the all-time favourite show it my house), I haven't heard "that's baby stuff" yet and they still have an innocence.  Yes, I know that the day will come when we start to hit up against all of that but for now, it just makes me so happy that they are content to be kids.  So many of the kids I see who are "older" are unhappy, constantly wanting more and just seem so lost.

I guess this long post is to say that it's hard to be an "against the current" parent, especially when you are facing the criticism of other moms (don't get me started on the sleep issues that we had and the judgement that we faced about it).  I have times of really doubting myself but honestly, in looking at my own kids, at least for now, all of those struggles and all of that disapproval is worth it.  I does cause me stress but I know that when I feel like I have compromised on what I think is best for my children, that stresses me more. 

How are you "against the current"?  How do you balance that?

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