How do you parent?

Yesterday at work I needed to buy my lunch from the small canteen that is onsite and available for staff. I’m usually served by the grumpy owner but on this day a young kid about 13 or 14 took my order. He was nervous and gangly with a squeaky voice. Squeaky, but also soft and shy. He walked into the back room to make my sandwich and straight away I could hear the grumpy woman start belittling him. Scolding him for not using the ‘correct’ butter knife, slapping his hand away when he reached for the ‘wrong’ loaf of bread, repeating instructions aggressively and unnecessarily and actually asking “Are you stupid?!”. I couldn’t believe this woman was talking to an employee like this! It wasn’t until I heard him say quietly, “Sorry, Mum” that it became clear he was actually her son.

As I stood there watching and listening I found myself becoming quite upset. This might sound overly dramatic (yeah, I may be extra emotional lately) but tears actually formed in my eyes as I stood witness to this young kid having his self esteem crushed. Not only crushed but crushed so openly and publicly. I walked away so sad and upset with a yucky feeling in the pit of my stomach. I just couldn’t understand why someone would choose to parent that way. Don’t get me wrong, I sure she loves her son very much but I do not think that sort of criticism towards a child is helpful nor healthy.

Since then, I have been thinking a lot about our parenting style and what it even is that we’re practicing. I have no idea. I suppose if someone asked, I would say we’re gentle parents? I don’t even know what that means. We’re not perfect that’s for sure. We have moments of frustration like every parent. Luckily there’s two of us so when one gets fed up, the other can tag in and take over. I think kids are so often overlooked and dismissed and that feels so wrong to me. I can say with absolute confidence that I’ll never call Oscar stupid.  I want him to move at his own pace and allow him to make mistakes as he learns things. I want him to trust us completely, I want him to practice empathy.

I have been interested in the Danish style of parenting for a while now but haven’t looked very in depth. After yesterday however, I’ve decided to read the book ‘The Danish Way’ as so many things about it resonate with me. Candice and I have our own unique way of parenting and I think it’s working well, I mean Oscar is such a bright, happy kid. I just want to further my knowledge as there might be some great tips to help us get through the next few years.

It doesn’t take much to be gentle. Be patient, be respectful. If you wouldn’t speak to another adult like that why would it be acceptable to talk to a child that way. Their minds are developing so rapidly and they are learning all the time. Make sure they are learning kind habits and not destructive ones. You never know just how far that kindness will go towards their future as an adult.

c

 

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7 thoughts on “How do you parent?

  1. Beautiful post. I too felt very sad when reading your canteen description. I must find this book and have a read too. At times I find myself in a rush or frustrated by the kiddies and I have to remind myself that raising my voice simply doesn’t help.
    You guys seem to be doing an amazing job. Oscar always looks so delightfully happy.

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    • It can be so hard when we’re in a rush too. Especially when tired! I hope I haven’t come across as sounding arrogant in this post. I was worried people might read and roll their eyes, thinking “Oh just you wait”. I’m really excited to read the book and know that’s there’s so much to take away from it. Thank you, he really is a happy little guy… Except when teething! Then it’s hell on earth.😞

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  2. I’m so sad that someone spoke to her child that way. I witnessed a mother screaming at her daughter about how she was “worthless” and “lazy” (keep in mind the girl couldn’t have been older than 11 years old) a couple months ago and it has stayed with me. I hope to never, ever speak to Evelyn that way.

    I don’t subscribe to any certain parenting style. I would say I did more attachment parenting when Evelyn was a baby, RIE-style in her early toddler year and now…gentle parenting mixed in with wondering how the hell I’m gonna deal with a 3 year old for a year. lol Mostly, I just follow my intuition.

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  3. Most days I am just trying to get by. I focus on how my words impact the kids rather than what I’m intending to say.
    Dylan is an incredible challenge and I don’t always do so well with her. Carter is a little bit more understanding and I feel like when I talk to him about things he listens and at least tries to understand.
    I wouldn’t say I parent them differently (aside from age differences) but i think it’s more effective with Carter and always has been.
    I believe kids are able to do things. I believe they are able to self soothe and/or ask for soothing so I give them the freedom to do so without stepping in. I want them to be confident and aware and it seems to be working (sometimes too well). I’m very laid back with most things but i’m super sensitive to noise so when there is screaming/crying/nagging I don’t always do so well and can be less than kind.
    I hope she was just having a bad day. I hope they later had a conversation where she apologized for treating him that way. It’s a conversation I know too well. I doubt that is the case though because if I spoke that way to Carter he wouldn’t say “sorry mommy”, he’d say “you’re hurting my feelings mommy”.

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  4. That boils my blood, makes me sick to my stomach, and causes my mama bear instincts take over…to the point I have to bite my tongue, reminding myself it isn’t my business. Man is it hard sometimes! I had an insecure, alcoholic, verbally-abusive step-father and that shit just brings me back to times any kid would want to forget. Just as we (well, clearly just *most* of us) want to shield our children from pain, I wish I could swoop in and shield these helpless boys & girls when their “care”givers (not only parents) can’t seem to show them any respect/guidance/love.

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  5. While I ALWAYS say to avoid labels, especially on Facebook, the fact that you’re thinking about it constantly is a good sign. All parents make mistakes from time to time, or do things that they later regret or wish they’d done differently. The point is just to continue to grow and learn and adapt, just like they do.

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  6. That would have upset me too. I was on the bus the other day and a mother got off with her little girl in the pram and two young boys in tow and absolutely screamed at one of the boys. He was a little slow getting off the bus and I think she panicked he was going to be left on there (I would have made the bus stop and walked him back if that happened) but she was so aggressive and in his face I know that it’s probably a common occurance in their household. His defeated and sad face, standing there whilst she screamed in his face and grabbed him just made me so upset and I thought I never ever want to fly off the handle like that at P. Mind you she was rough as guts. Still I think being a bogan deadhead is no excuse to traumatize your kids. There’s so much of that awful treatment (and worse) you just really don’t want to think about it too much. Focus on how much Oscar will thrive with your parenting style and know that you’re doing an amazing job.

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