Giving Children Freedom: How To Begin.

My children don’t test me. They don’t push my limits, and that is because I don’t have any. They push their own limits, physically, mentally and spiritually. There’s nothing to rebel against but gravity and all the other laws of nature. πŸ˜›
I see many parents chasing after toddlers (and older children) dashing out this way and that dangerously among traffic and sharp pavement. I feel the stress and I’m sad for them. Maybe I’m sad for you… I have noticed that children that run carelessly often are only children who have been heavily controlled and helicoptered. I know it is with the best intentions and maybe I’m just lucky that neglect come natural to me (kidding), but I feel for them. They work so hard at parenting only to have it be more work and not fun. Outings and special events turn into nightmares of children frantically searching for their independence and autonomy. It doesn’t have to be this way. But how do we change things when we’ve trained children to run away from us?
Baby steps. Ask yourself what you can let go of that doesn’t harm their physical well being?
Can you let go of the need to dress them a certain way when they would like to look another? So they won’t wear a coat in cold weather? Just silently bring one along, my kids always end up grateful I did!
Can you let go of monitoring what, when and how much they eat? It could be hard, you may need to look the other way or leave the room. They won’t starve themselves, for long… And they will begin to heal their stress-induced aversions to eating. I’m sorry you are going through this. There’s another way…
I’m not saying your kids need to look like mine (outside in a pack, all muddy on bikes with enormous smiles and hair in the wind).
What does your happy child look like?
Now here’s some hard ones but they are not dangerous, hopefully:
Can you let go of the need to tell them what to say and how to act? (Pleases and sorries). I mean it. Let their intrinsic kind nature show through. It takes longer and it’s sometimes harder to see but it’s worth it. True words from a child are so so so special. More than a million forced pleases and thank yous.
What else can we let go of that will add to our happiness? Can we let go of the stronger urge and desire to do laundry? I like to pick through and just do a load or two of what we need. This works!
Can we let go of needing to constantly clean up after kids? They make less messes if we are involved. Sometimes that means just sitting with them, observing.
The less we regulate our children, the more they will be willing to cooperate. Eventually children just begin to tune out the constant direction. Think about what wants to come out of them. They do want to be safe. They do want to be healthy and happy and human. This is their journey and they will make mistakes and get hurt and we will be there to comfort and never say “See! You should be more careful!”. They know. They’re learning. Enjoy it before it is gone. You can’t get your child back once they are gone and even more importantly: You can’t give back their childhood once it is over. Let them live it. πŸ™‚

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That is my two youngest boys, making and eating their own sticky, messy jam. They’re so proud and happy about it and its about 10:00 at night. I was happy too.

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6 responses »

  1. Maybe. But it is very tough. So, if my kids want to run around naked? I live in town, on a busy street. Should I be o.k. with that? And if so, I need help to learn how to be o.k. with that. I don’t know what kind of help…but letting go of this one isn’t going to be easy πŸ™‚

    • Jeanette,
      These are great questions!
      I think it’s first important to establish that their are no set of rules or “shoulds” that we must do.
      Should you be ok with your kids bled outside? I don’t know.
      Is it safe? Is it peaceful. Is it respectful.
      I have asked my children to put on clothes when outside, or at least underwear/shorts and they are usually compliant. But my children have played outside naked.
      For me, it’s important that they feel in charge of their bodies. So, it wouldn’t be worth it for me to force clothes on them so that other people don’t see them naked. Their body integrity is more important to me. Besides, they would just take the clothes off anyways.
      I try to work with them and explain why something is important. And if I can’t explain it, then maybe it’s unreasonable.
      I hope that helps. πŸ™‚

  2. So if this is in fact true then why do kids need parents at all, you can let children enjoy life and have fun doing things that is just fine. But children also need to learn that there are restrictions in life and it is not just a free for all. Believe it or not children will push your buttons and why because they need to no that you give a damn, by telling them to knock off unruly behaviour. This whole concept to me is in fact mostly lazy parenting, what kind of world would it be without rules, not one I would want to live in. There is such a thing as balance and one way of parenting is not the only way. In order to be a good parent you need to learn how to pick your battles, there is a time and place for fun and good times and there is also a time and place were children need to be guided into good manners and respect for others around them. Some of us have been blessed in life to have children and given a huge responsibilty to guide them into responsible adults, and that takes parenting not sitting back and letting them do whatever they please. Give them and inch and they will take a mile and walk over whom ever they please to get there because they have not been taught any thing else.

    • From my experiences, I do not need to create restrictions. Life will naturally show it’s restrictions to children, it has mine.
      I do have four children, and I have found myself feeling that my children were pushing my buttons. When I explored it deeper, I realized that it wasn’t about me. There was always an underlying need or something that I had yet to understand. I’m now choosing to think differently about it as “they are pushing my buttons” feels like a victim mentality to it and solves nothing for me.
      This parenting does not feel lazy to me but at times is much easier. Responding to my children and being with them 24/7 is very demanding.
      About rules: I have found that children have an innate sense of good and right. We are guided by joy and love and rules seem to be only limiting. I have also found that my children often look to me for guidance when they are unsure. It has been enough that respect and manners are demonstrated to them to have it returned. I also try to remember that not all people live as we do here. Many cultures consider please and thank you to be rude and disconnecting. I can totally see that point of view.
      My three youngest have been raised with freedom and they are some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Kindness does not need to be enforced,
      Only shown. I tried so hard to “teach” my older son manners and kindness but it resulted in a lot of disconnection between him and I and he doesn’t trust himself. And those are only a few things we are working on from my old style of parenting.
      I give my kids a mile and they take it inches at a time. πŸ™‚
      Thank you for commenting.

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