Sunday, 3 November 2013

17 and 17, the Other Rule

It was pointed out to me that my last post might be misconstrued to be suggesting parents take up hover parenting (which I’ve already indicated I’m opposed to: see Hover Parent) … so I’ll use this opportunity to clarify.

Parents need to get their own work done, but they do not need to get it 5869276206_19176d5607_odone while the children are in suspended animation under a desk. Children can do the work of their own lives –exploring, learning what adults do to live, feeling safe and happy near their parents—while moms or dads are in the same room, or an immediately adjacent room from which they can hear and frequently look in on what is happening while getting their own work done.

Directing or being involved in all of what a child is doing is both unnecessary and causes a lot of problems. One of the problems it causes is martyrdom in parents, which isn’t fun to live or to live with. It also has a nasty way of setting up the roll-over, roll-over, roll-over SNAP thing that happens when people concede more than they want to (for any reason) for too long. Parents of toddlers who start out all the patience in the universe (while being beaten gently over the head with a book repeatedly, say…) who freak out and scream and throw things when the book touches them the 11,003rd time. Parents who for some reason think they’re required to be ‘engaging’ with the child 100% of the time the child’s awake, who haven't yet figured out what that’s going to mean to their own eating and bathing requirements.

Which neatly brings me to my other ‘rule’

Never put up with anything for 17 seconds that you are not fully prepared to put up with for 17 years.

Obviously, this takes some experiential learning because who knows what it is that we aren’t going to be able to tolerate for three years when it only just started? But, to be rational and to respect the others around you, don’t accept things you find unacceptable only to snap after the 115th re-run. No one can deal with that kind of chaos, least of all children who look to the adult for a stable foundation. It’s unstable, unpredictable and uses up a lot of energy that could be better spent virtually anywhere.

It is completely fine to say, calmly, “I thought I was going to be able to tolerate that, but I was mistaken. It must stop and it may not be repeated.” No freak-out required . . . .

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