I greatly dislike parenting styles that are rigid and that constantly manage a child’s every move with a serious tone, and I’m not comfortable with the other extreme of just letting them be fully.
In short, I try to parent in sort of a free range chicken kind of way. Not the best analogy, I know, but it makes the point. I create fairly wide parameters most of the time within which she can roam freely and feel the way she is mean to feel – a happy, free, supported kid.
Sure, go to the fridge and get yourself a snack, but be sensible if it’s getting close to dinner and no if it’s ten minutes before dinner as that just makes no sense
Sure, eat the candy or popsicle, but be sensible with what you know about health and take care of your teeth without me having to remind you
Sure, go outside with your friend and explore, but wear your shoes if you’re wandering around, stay away from the road (high speed road), and use good sense
Sure, make a mess in the house, let your imagination run freely, but then pick it up within a reasonable time and without me having to badger you to do it
And so on.
When I do put my foot down, it’s usually after a reminder or two about the parameters. Admittedly, sometimes I tire of repeating myself. Most days, though, my parenting style works well. There is a warm connection, and, with this in tact, it’s easy to gain her cooperation. Without that warm connection or being sensitive to what she is feeling and thinking, it becomes a power struggle. I don’t like those and try to stay away from that.
Despite my ‘free range chicken’ style, she’ll still come to me and ask me things that I prefer not to be questioned on. This morning, she asked me if she could have watermelon.
Me – “Of course you can have it. Why are you asking me? Just do it.”
A little while ago, she plopped a candy roll in front of me. I knew she was asking me if I could have it but instead
Me – “Oh, thanks!”
I took a few pieces and munched happily
Her – “Hey, I want some!”
Me – “Oh, I thought you brought those for me.”
Me – “You don’t have to ask me about little things. Use your own good judgment.”
No person wants to feel managed and bossed around, and I don’t want her feeling that way, either, especially in her home. Home is a place to feel free, relaxed and connected. I’ve not found that a rigid parenting style helps. In fact, not only is it ineffective, but when I do slip into that serious more controlling place I usually feel lousy for the rest of the day. It’s not who I want to be, and it’s not how I want to relate to her. Plus, for the long-term, I want her to learn to make decisions for herself. That requires letting her figure things out and occasionally making poor choices.
Let a kid be a kid.