If I had to describe my parenting style, I would say I’m firmly relaxed. Discipline and manners are just non negotiable- I expect my children to be the kind that say “please” and “thank you,” open doors for others, chew with their mouths closed (hopefully someday), don’t cut in line and respect other people. In terms of their diets I was definitely more uptight with BQ than I am with Molé. No matter how you fight it, things simply aren’t exactly the same with the second child. I’m still rigid when it comes to candy. BQ has had 3 lollipops in her life, all of which have been while getting her haircut and frankly I don’t see myself bringing candy into our world as a daily thing anytime soon. All this to say, in all other areas I would say I’m on the more laid back side.
As we all know, there are millions of ways to parent children. I’ve seen many styles on display in my short time as a mom, since anything I thought I saw or had an opinion about prior to having children is not valid. Let’s be honest I had no clue, no frame of reference, and no idea. Some of my closest friends and I differ in how we are parenting, but I truly believe we are both doing well. Each child is different, so often we moms need to tweak our strategy when dealing with them as individuals. The only parenting style that I’ve come across that concerns me is what I like to call “fear-based” parenting. Let me explain.
We all know that we live in a fallen, broken, and often dangerous world. When we have children, we begin to view our world in a different light. Sometimes the thought of our children “out there” is frightening to parents. This fear unfortunately permeates each and every part of their parenting. These parents feel compelled to spend hundreds of dollar on gear to “protect” their children from bodily harm around the home, purchase a multitude of cleaning product to ensure that each and every inch of their home and child are germ free at all times, “hover” over their child at the playground, think the slightest sniffle must be (sigh) swine flu, and cut their children’s bananas into pieces so small that they simply turn to mush until they are 10 for fear that they might choke. And then, these parents meet me. They come into my home and see my children eat Cheerios off the ground, run around and crash into furniture, shove handfuls of food into their mouths, and get into the trash. My world is not a Clorox commercial- nothing sparkles, nothing is without cooties, and we live with risk. And I like it that way.
I cannot imagine how stressed these parents must be. Can you imagine living with that kind of obsessive fear? Constantly googling the latest diseases, food allergies, recalled products, child accidents, etc., etc., etc!!!??? If you are reading this and that is you, I would love to know if you sleep. Do you? I am not ignorant to the realities of the world- I just CHOOSE to live differently in light of that truth. I am not going to waste my time worrying about what could happen. Yes I know that .000000000000001% means there is still a chance, but who cares. Life is full of chance, isn’t that sort of what it’s all about? Bad stuff happens. Know that, deal with it and then move on. Let your kid fall on the playground, take a chance and don’t clean your toilet each time it’s used and make macaroni and cheese out of a box for dinner.
I have to admit that I have the advantage of believing in God. I believe that there is someone else who, at the end of the day, is in charge. I’m still accountable and am going to give this mothering thing everything that I have, so don’t hear that. I am simply relieved of holding it all together, making it all happen, and the responsibility of controlling the things that I can’t! And God was upfront about this- we will suffer. He didn’t sugar coat it, didn’t lie, but let us know full well that we should never be surprised when something bad happens. It comes with the territory. The other side of this promise is that we are not forsaken when the poop hits the fan. He’s there with us, on his hands and knees, wiping it up. I guess that’s why I don’t worry and why I don’t have to engage in “fear-based” parenting. We fear what we don’t know or what we don’t understand. Because of my knowledge of God I have knowledge that brings peace. Maybe that, most of all is the difference.
So, I’ll continue to parent like I always have- pretty hands off 95% of the time, but riding my girls around manners and respecting other people. And I’ll savor the sweet peace I’ve been given that has nothing to do with life circumstance. Are you doing “fear-based” parenting? Are you burned out? Turn off the search engine, put down the sanitizer and let’s talk about real peace. And remember, what’s the worst that could happen?