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What do you think of giving kids more control or a say in how they are raised?

Posted by on May. 8, 2013 at 9:10 AM
  • 11 Replies

Kids Know More About How They Should Be Raised Than We Do

by Michele Zipp

kids fieldExperts tell us how to best bake a cake, change the oil in our car, turn on our lovers, and raise our babies. Guidance is good. So is inspiration. But when it comes to personal interaction what too often ends up happening is we forget instinct. And no one knows pure instinct better than babies. They haven't read any books or have been corrupted by modern society. They often try to tell us something and we're not listening.

Think about it like this: If baby won't go to sleep at the time mom and dad say it's time to sleep there are many parents who turn to crying it out to "teach" a child that it's bedtime. No exceptions. Some love ferberization, others don't. I'm not a fan. I listen to my children because I want them to listen to me. They have their own needs and by essentially agreeing to be their mother by creating them, I owe them that. They know more about what they want than we do, so we need to be all ears. But this is more than just about crying it out.

We don't always have time. Or rather, we don't make time. We're busy. We all have other things that need to be done. We need more help. These are all valid points and we all have to do what we have to do as parents. Sometimes it's the TV or a iPad in our kid's hand. But overall, what does it reveal about the priorities of modern society? Are we just too civilized? Jay Griffiths, writer for The Guardian, thinks we should leave our kids alone. She writes that modern parenting is making our kids miserable little beings who most likely turn into miserable adults. No one wants that. We all want our kids to grow up to be happy. Griffiths examples are eye-opening.

In West Papua, New Guinea, civilized (like modernity) is a bad word. One of the local mothers there despises the thought of micromanaging children, which is sort of exactly what many Americans and Europeans do. The children there are free, they make their own "rules" and they also grow up to be more self-reliant, less susceptible to outside pressure. In other cultures and societies, when babies want to sway or rock, they don't get placed in a motorized swing like so many of us do here, they are in a rocking chair on mother's lap or tucked in a sling while mama walks. Maybe all this modernity is making us lose touch with our children physically and emotionally. Technology sure isn't helping.

I'm a mom of twins and therefore I sort of preach routine ... within reason. I'm all about natural parenting -- I breastfed into toddlerhood, we make smart food choices, we co-sleep -- but I'm also about doing what's right for my family. And my family includes what works for my kids. They like routine, but they also like straying from it. I think a loose routine could still be established even for the most natural practicing parent. We just have to ask what does our child need and how can we best fulfill that need?

Some argue that attachment or natural parenting practices condition children to be too dependent. But the opposite is true. A child who cries and wants to be soothed but is instead left alone, essentially ignored, learns to be alone. Maybe too alone -- and that can lead to uncertaintainly once adult. Children tended to and whose cries get responses learn independence because they know their family will always be right there beside them, emotionally not always physically, and that transfers as confidence. Griffiths writes:

Those who would overrule a child's will take "obedience" as their watchword, as they fear disobedience and disorder and believe that if a child is not controlled, there will be chaos. But these are false opposites. The true opposite of obedience is not disobedience but independence. The true opposite of order is not disorder but freedom. The true opposite of control is not chaos but self-control.

Giving our kids more freedom makes them happy. And what's happening in modern society is we are preventing that happiness. We aren't letting our kids be free -- free to do what they want to do, free to run in fields and have unstructured play, but instead we are scheduling playdate after playdate not letting them decide on their own that they would perhaps rather just watch the frogs in the pond. Maybe they are watching too much TV, stuck inside, strapped down to everthing too modern. We want happy kids not zombies who sit in front of television screens who grow up to bury their faces in iPhones, completely disconnected from real contact and interaction.

Unicef polled children in 2011 about what made them happy. The results were time (particularly with families), friendships, and outdoors. That unstructured play fosters independence.

Of course we can't just let our kids have their own way all the time -- though based on the Unicef poll alone what they want is what we want for them. But for younger kids, it's different. If I let my kids do whatever they wanted they would be running down highways trying to play tag with tractor trailers. But we can let them guide us just like we guide them. We can give them guidance to essentially keep them alive while they are on their independent endeavors. I truly believe that if we listen to our kids more -- even when they are babies and their only form of communication is smiling or crying -- they will also listen to us. We need to reconnect. We need to trust. Get back to basics. Nothing beats good communication. Our kids' lives and their happiness depend on it.

What do you think of giving kids more control or a say in how they are raised?

by on May. 8, 2013 at 9:10 AM
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Replies (1-10):
zacmacsmomm
by Member on May. 8, 2013 at 9:46 AM
1 mom liked this

Essentially it goes back to the "olden days" where kids are allowed to be kids.  Letting your kids play outside till it's dark, getting dirty, being goofy..That is how I raised my kids for the most part.  Except I was BIG on bed time.  They slept in their own rooms and went to sleep without being rocked or fed to sleep.  I was also big on dinner time manners, they ate what we cooked or they went hungry.  My kids have climbed trees, jumped on trampolines, gone down driveways while laying on a skateboard (BTW that one didn't work out too well for my son lol).

ceciliam
by Cecilia on May. 8, 2013 at 10:30 AM

I like it!

Bmat
by Barb on May. 8, 2013 at 10:45 AM

I disagree. They are kids, part of being a child is that they don't know what they need to know to grow up in a society.

PandTsmomjuly
by Silver Member on May. 8, 2013 at 8:40 PM

This. I use a mix of "olden days" parenting and "modern" parenting. I did co-sleeping, baby wearing, breastfeeding til self weaning, and am BIG on free play, either indoors or out. But I also expect my kids to learn society's rules as well. They don't to make decisions on bedtime, I'm not a short order cook, and I do have rules.

A few people I know have called me a lazy mom because of my parenting style but those parents were the ones with brats with no manners despite the "helicopter" parenting style they adopted. My kids are confident in themselves and me, they are at least semi-self reliant or are learning, they can make choices for themselves and accept consequences (within safety limits), and are generally well adjusted little heathens :-)

I wouldn't let my children make ALL the decisions in their lives but I'm centered around my kids likes, wants, needs, problems, and abilities and I think that helps them grow into themselves. I know my children better than they know themselves and I help them discover what they can do and instill good self-esteem and positive self image and good social habits.

Quoting zacmacsmomm:

Essentially it goes back to the "olden days" where kids are allowed to be kids.  Letting your kids play outside till it's dark, getting dirty, being goofy..That is how I raised my kids for the most part.  Except I was BIG on bed time.  They slept in their own rooms and went to sleep without being rocked or fed to sleep.  I was also big on dinner time manners, they ate what we cooked or they went hungry.  My kids have climbed trees, jumped on trampolines, gone down driveways while laying on a skateboard (BTW that one didn't work out too well for my son lol).



wedding ticker

sissy502
by on May. 9, 2013 at 7:01 AM
1 mom liked this

I think the key is.... balance. I do feel it is downright silly to have a child make the rules. (that is too much pressure on a child whose brain hasn't even finished developing yet) BUT.... I do feel the children ought to be allowed to express their feelings about the rules.

Listen to me in an instant! The second I say "no" or "stop" .... my kids better STOP!! I don't want to teach them they have a right to continue on if they feel like it or second guess my command. (at least while they are young) ..... If my little one is running toward a street, I see the car coming down the road & yell STOP, I want my kid to know... when I say STOP, I mean it.

When it comes to things like bedtime, I see no reason NOT to allow your child a little input. Give them a choice ... "bedtime can be 7:30 or 7:45... what would you prefer?" Offering simple choices helps teach them to make choices.

Kid cries when you put them to bed, let them cry... for 1 or 2 minutes. NOT 20!! 


sita5184
by Member on May. 9, 2013 at 8:08 AM
1 mom liked this
I think that we do try too hard to make children little adults....and that is damaging to them. I find my biggest frustrations come from these struggles of "society says" versus instinct. For example I am told all the time that my DD at almost three should be potty trained. We have tried....but she has a one month old sister and I have seen how diaper changes make her feel security she needs right now.
I also try to look at things through their eyes. My older DD is put to bed in her bed nightly but younger DD is in bassinet in our room and is breastfed frequently on our bed. If big sister comes in, I don't want her to feel everyone else is allowed in but her. She needs to feel loved more than she needs to sleep in her bed 100% of the time.
Babies especially need a bit of leniency. They honestly can't understand why no one comes when they cry or feeds them when hungry. They have no sense of " I will eat in an hour"...and every time my kids go on eating "binges" they also go through growth spurts. Children know what they need better than we think and while safety and hygiene are non negotiable, I think most other things are worth consideration.
I also want to bring up teenagers. I think rules need be very personalized based on each ones maturity. Also...as a teenager I was often yelled at for staying up all night. I tried to explain it wasn't my choice. I had horrible horrible insomnia and would go days without sleep. After a few hours of literally staring at the wall I'd get up and paint or read or go online...and no matter how many times I tried to explain that the best I could do otherwise was pretend to sleep to make my parents happy, they saw it as some sort of defiance. Years later I was diagnosed hyperthyroid and I believe that teenage insomnia was a big early sign. I wish someone would have considered I wasn't just testing boundaries or something and has listened to my reasoning.
Scribbleprints
by Member on May. 9, 2013 at 8:47 AM

I think that you gotta find what works for you.  If you're not comfortable with doing something a certain way, than it's probably not going to work for you, no matter how good a technique it is.  

I allow my kids to do what they want within reason...and to let them suffer logical consequences to teach them.  But I remember when my child was very little he liked to make some sounds that frankly just annoyed the heck out of me.  And I didn't want to punish him for them because they weren't "bad" or "dangerous" and I felt like stopping him from doing something innocent but annoying was making it about my needs, not his.  Then it dawned on me that putting up with this was making me a powder keg inside, so that I would eventually pop at him over some little thing when really it was just that my nerves were fried over the constant noise.  And I realized other people would have the same reaction and I wasn't doing him any service by letting him be annoying even if it wasn't tecnically "bad."   


--As for crying it out, my first really did choose that, in a way.  When we tried "comforting him" it seemed to only make him more mad.   So, we eventually just left him in the crib out of our own desperation.  I remember the particular night...usually we nursed him to sleep but he wasn't interested.  We could tell he was desperately tired, and tried to sooth him to sleep. That went on for 40 minutes with everything we were doing seeming to make him madder and madder.  So we finally just left him in the crib.   He was out in 20 minutes.  I still nursed him to sleep most nights after that, but when he woke up after nursing we let him cry it out and every time he did better that way than when we had tried soothing him (and we tried all sorts of different soothing methods before we did crying it out)

 And funny thing is he was like that with so many things growing up...so often if we try to help him with stuff he will just get mad but if we let him work it out on his own he'll figure it out, or eventually ask us.  Our other two boys weren't like that (with sleep or with anything else).  

atlmom2
by Ruby Member on May. 9, 2013 at 8:55 AM
Look where it is getting them. More kids are brats and in trouble. More adults are not functioning and lean too much on Mom and Dad with helicopter parenting. Need to go back to older ways. New wave parenting is not working.
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zacmacsmomm
by Member on May. 9, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Nope, New Wave parenting does suck.  What I find annoying is that kids are not taught to be respectfull anymore 


Quoting atlmom2:

Look where it is getting them. More kids are brats and in trouble. More adults are not functioning and lean too much on Mom and Dad with helicopter parenting. Need to go back to older ways. New wave parenting is not working.


 

atlmom2
by Ruby Member on May. 9, 2013 at 9:07 AM
You got that right. I taught mine respect. I had countless of disrespectful kids in my home. I pointed out to mine everything and better never see my kids say or act like kids I have seen. It is bad!.
I mean young kids 5 years old punching teachers? What is the world coming to???


Quoting zacmacsmomm:

Nope, New Wave parenting does suck.  What I find annoying is that kids are not taught to be respectfull anymore 




Quoting atlmom2:

Look where it is getting them. More kids are brats and in trouble. More adults are not functioning and lean too much on Mom and Dad with helicopter parenting. Need to go back to older ways. New wave parenting is not working.



 


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