Note from Naomi: Today's post is a guest post from Jo, a mum of three who has been blogging since January. She has written a post about how she parents her children in her own way, whether others would consider it right or wrong. Check out her blog over at Cup of Toast.
I look back sometimes and think about the parenting choices that my husband and I have made along the way so far. Whether we have been too strict or too lenient. Whether we are getting the right balance of setting boundaries but having fun. Whether our boys are getting a well-adjusted, rounded introduction to life that will stand them in good stead for handling the complexities of the world and their place in it as they grow up.
I realise, through this process of looking back, that there is one simple thought that we always come back to. What would our ancestors have done? Seriously. We really ponder about people who we are distantly related to and may or may not have been responsible for drawing on cave walls, beating their chests and wearing animal skins. They had babies too, right? Who survived in a cave. Or a den. Or a dwelling place of some description that didn’t have separate rooms, cavity wall insulation or running water. They must have done ok, I mean, we’re all here.
When Chief (now 6) was potty training I was worried about if I would adequately support him as he suddenly went from zero interest to insisting on wearing pants. I didn’t know if I had done enough research. There are shelves of books on the subject. Thousands of posts on the Internet. Studies conducted and reported on. I hadn’t read them, or I hadn’t read them well enough. “Do you think he’ll be 18, down the pub, wearing nappies because you didn’t read a book?” queried my husband. “No”, I responded. “Then don’t worry about it and follow his lead. He’ll get there”. And he did. In three days. The book that I had ordered on the Internet turned up two days too late. It was done, he was out of nappies and confidently, competently, managing his new found independence in that particular area of his life.
We kept all three boys sleeping in our room until they were around 18 months old. I remember wondering if we’d made a rod for our own back. Would they wake up screaming for us when we moved them into their own room? Would I have psychologically damaged them by keeping them with me. (Yes, it really did cross my mind that an 18 month old baby might be better off sleeping without me next to them). Again though, I thought, “they’re not going to want to do this when they’re a teenager, and they’re only little once. When they’re ready, they’ll outgrow this”. And they did. Doors were kept open initially during the evening so that they could still hear us as they fell asleep, but the joy of having their own space and toys in their room, next to their bed, was palpable. They haven’t looked back and I suspect that if I suggested that they might like to sleep in our room now (aged 6, 4, and 2) the comment would be met with a resounding “NO!”.
I’m far from a perfect parent, if any such person even exists. I do carry a vague hope though that somewhere in my recognition that as a species we are pretty resilient and adaptable, I am finding that balance my sons need. Perhaps even the balance that I need. That in ignoring the comments that dictate how I should raise my children, and instead listening to friendly advice and a common sense approach from people around me, I will help them to find their way. That, and thinking back to our long haired, possibly unkempt, baby wearing, hunter ancestors who survived despite their lack of en suite bathrooms and individually sprung mattresses.