On Thursdays, I try to take my kids to the school they will attend for music and story time. I don’t always make it there (sometimes I have therapy, sometimes life just gets in the way) but it’s something I like doing because I want my kids to be as excited as I am for them to start school…
While we were there last week, I let my 5 month old roll around on the carpet while the bigger kids ran, danced, and played.
Another kid ran fairly close to the ladybug and I gently shielded her but didn’t really react much, and another mom said “wow, you’re so laid back…”
I almost chuckled and replied “no, I’m just so medicated…” but thought better of it.
This got me thinking.
I’ve heard more than once that I seem to be such a laid-back parent. I take this as a huge compliment, because in actuality, I’m not. I can’t let myself take my eyes off my kids for a second when we’re in public. I don’t often engage in conversations with other moms on the playground because I’m afraid of being distracted while my son plays. When I go to places that aren’t properly childproofed (which, according to my standards is basically EVERYWHERE…) I’m constantly scanning the area for potential dangers. I am not laid back.
The thing is though, despite my very strong desire to hover over my children’s every move, I know that isn’t what’s in their best interest.
I don’t want my children to pick up on my neuroses.
I don’t want them to become afraid to explore the world around them simply because I am so afraid for them. I want to hide my fear from my children as much as possible so that they can grow to be secure, competent adults one day.
So, I try very hard to be as hands-off as I possibly can. I mean, I’m definitely not free-range, but I work to not be a helicopter parent either. I don’t let my son run completely free but I also don’t try to clear his path of every single thing he might trip on.
This isn’t my natural parenting style, but a conscious decision I have to make each and every day. I work at being “laid back,” which I’m pretty sure is one of the biggest contradictions in terms out there, but I hope this is what is best for my children in the long term.
I don’t know that this is the right decision, like with all things, I agonize over my own judgment. I can say that the book I’ve been reading for my moms group book club seems to support this parenting style*. I haven’t gotten all the way through it yet, but I like the premise so far. As a parent, I want to strive to be a lighthouse–always there, always watching, always helping when it is needed, and not swooping in when it is not. I don’t know if I’m making the right call, but I think I’m doing the best job I can most days and I guess that’s all I can really expect of myself.
Other parents, how would you describe your parenting style? Would acting as a lighthouse work for your family? Why or why not?
*yes, I’m aware you can find a book that supports ANY parenting style, but this one does happen to be endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and I tend to trust pediatricians. I’m also aware that no parenting style is appropriate for every family, because children are unique individuals with their own needs.