Wow! I love these glasses! They are the result of the last Parenting Circle meeting at La Casa Naranja, my free playgroup center for babies, toddlers and parents.
Last Wednesday we worked on all our doubts regarding parenting in general and our children in particualr. Each one of us wrote a list of all the big and small questions about daily parenting. Then, we reread the questions (silently, just for ourselves) and tried to find categories to which these questions could belong: limits, education, changes in life, organization, philosophy, etc.
Finally, I shared an overview of the book Dear Parent, by Magda Gerber. The objective was to gain a new perspective in order to find different -and hopefully more satisfying.-answers to our daily dilemmas. Having established categories would help us to identify the areas where we had more doubts.
The “parenting glasses” came as a synthesis of what was shared and discussed that day:
- Respect is the main structure that supports our parenting vision. Much harm has been done in the name of Love, but no harm can be done in the name of Respect, Magda Gerber said!
- Both glasses are made of the “natural development” ingredient. But they take two different directions.
- One glass is for “discovering the natural developmental INTENTION behind a childs action”. This helps us to stop judging their activities as “right” or “wrong” and to start understanding the hidden engine behind their acts.
Intention is the manifestation of a developmental need. It is a healthy, natural, humane engine, struggling to set development into a constant growing movement. Babies and toddlers do not pretend to drive parents crazy, so we should not take their actions personal. They feel a strong urge to follow their natural developmental pattern and the more we understand this, the better we will be able to set clear, respectful and firm limits guiding the child into the path of self discipline.
Once we understand the intention we can also offer options, more adequate ones (i.e. “I won´t let you bite your friend, but you can bite this soft ring instead”, etc). Then we can set limits and acknowledge their impulse at the same time. In this way it is possible to validate their emotions, reaffirming our loving presence and guidance.
- The second glass stands for setting an ADEQUATE CONTEXT for natural development. Here safety is nr. 1 priority since it grants uninterrupted free play and movement. Offering the baby and toddler proper play objects and free movement opportunities will make the rest. They don´t need us to stimulate or entertain them, to show them how to do things nor to assist them constantly. They don´t need to become performers either (“show grannie how you dance”, “sing for auntie the frog song”, “tell me, how many red balls are there in the basket…one, two or three? This question is unnecessary unless you´re colorblind or you don´t know how to count!). An adequate context implies freedom. It also implies to know what should not be expected or included as a play object according to our child´s age.
After reading Pikler and Gerber you get to know not sitting up babies ahead of time and not “walking” them are two quite obvious rules. But deciding how many pieces should a jigsaw have for a 2 years old little girl is a more subtle decision. A short spanned frustration is adequate to keep a child interested, so he can find self-satisfaction in overcoming new challenges. But pretending him to ensemble a 40 pieces Monet painting is not.
Too much, too early is counteractive and in the end, disrespectful of the child´s nature. What our child needs from us is a clear, honest and safe bond, not a constant pressure to broadcast their brilliant uniqueness.
This bond can be clearly established from the very first day of life, through our dedicated and constant presence during daily caring activities such as feeding, bath and dressing. If we keep focused and invite them to cooperate during these daily routines, we will be granting a deep and loving heart to heart connection with our little child.
Nice synthesis, right?
What I like the most about what happened with these glasses is the fact that I was able to avoid the all-knowing-parenting-coach- pedestal. I didn´t answer any of the questions parents made, in fact, I pleaded them not even to read them to me (in case I would feel tempted to make one or two suggestions… once I hear a parenting question my mind is set to answer!)
What I really celebrate about these glasses is that each one can decide when and how to “wear” them, respecting first of all one own´s intuition and to each one´s best understanding. We, parents are self-learners too… How I wish we nourish that basic trust in ourselves as easily as we trust our little ones!
What do you think?