Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Thoughts on Limits...

I read this blog post. And I needed to process it. I had commented and then deleted my comment because I wanted to think on it some more.

I can agree with a lot of what she says. Like this  (I feel its' all true...to a point):

Quote: "It's based on the fact that I'm still the same person as I was as a child. I have the same feelings and thoughts now as I did then. I think kids are just like adults in terms of how they want to be treated. I think people, young and old, want to have ultimate control over their bodies and their lives. I don't think mentally healthy people want to be restrained. I could be wrong. Let me know, please."

I think the key factor she's missing here is maturity. Kids don't have it. They can't think in big pictures and grand schemes. They see, they do. While I believe children are a lot smarter and wiser and in-tune with what they need than adults are...And I completely agree with her on the fact that they deserve to treated with the up-most respect. Bottom line? They aren't little adults. They need direction. They need to learn to live with other human beings, to give and take. And some times life lessons aren't any fun. Some times they don't feel good. Some times they'll have big ugly feelings about where they find themselves. I've already talked about how important it is to set our children up for success.

Moving on, I don't "impose" limits on my children. Limits and boundaries are written into the fabric of our very existence. Gravity is an obvious boundary. You jump up, you fall down. 
A nother natural boundary, You are smaller than cars, if you run in front of one it will hurt you. If you want to insure that you don't meet up with a car, follow proper safety guidelines for crossing appropriately. Look both ways, and cross. Streets aren't for playing in, there is always risk invovled...And why take such a gamble?

Seriously, I have a radical streak in me. I'm all for free range kids. I get weird looks (and hover grandmothers at the park) talking down to me because my 21mos old has wandered off further than THEY think she should have. I can see her, I know my child. And I trust my 1) instincts and 2) assessment of the situation: there is nothing that could possibly hurt her in the situations I let her wonder off in. 

But there's being radical and trusting our children. And there's also the common sense that we are entrusted with the greatest most powerful and precious gift and responsibility, raising and protecting the children entrusted to us.

Quote: "I think children want to be informed and supported, but they want to be free to make choices. I don't think kids want to be told how many bites to eat or when they need to sleep or when they need to wear a jacket. I try not to impose my will on my children, or my perception of their limits."

 You know what? I agree with her here too. I don't force my kids to eat foods they don't want to. I can't force them to fall asleep on command. But I do work with them. I try to set up the rhythm of their lives so they succeed. So the routines of our days are laid out and structured in such a way where they can nap when they feel tired (I make sure we're home consistently at the same times). If they don't want to wear what I think (in my maturity) they should, It's a non issue- I pack what they might need later. They live in the now. I'm the parent, I need to live in the ahead (yes that's a time ;0).

QUOTE: "I don't make them choose anything. I do make choices for them, based on my knowledge of their preferences. But even then, they are almost always free to object, to veto, to make a different choice. Many times, they do go along with what I choose, because they trust me. And they know they are free to choose otherwise."

You know I agree with this too actually. And maybe I'm reading way more into what she was saying.
But the way I see it?  Some times life isn't set up in a way that they can veto. My children are always free to object, I try never to squelch their very real feelings- as long as they are shared appropriately (hitting, kicking or any physical act towards me, stomps my boundary to have my body respected). I want them to always feel safe. To know that I care about what they think.

But when you live in a family unit, some times for the sake of family harmony, a veto is out of the question. Living life where children can just veto and make a different choice just isn't practical in every situation. Some times we screw up and the situation sucks...And that's a life lesson for every one involved.  I'm all for compromise. But I'm not going to do it if it means the family unit is being drained. Some times (many times) no, just means no. They're going to run up against that 1093209384 times in their life and it's important that they learn how to take it at home, with people who love and support them no matter what.

I think the thing that bothered me about this post was that this could easily melt down into severe permissiveness. Children have to learn to say NO. It's so important. It's important that their "no" be respected. But we, as adults, also have the wisdom and maturity to know that some times "no" can't go. If my 21mos old daughter says "no" when I say it's time to change her diaper. She can protest, but it doesn't change what needs to be done. Now if she's in the middle of some thing I don't just scoop her up from what she's doing. I respectfully help her transition to getting her diaper changed so she can get back to playing (and I try not to put diaper changes right in the middle of very intense playing).  But bottom line, her diaper will be changed. No matter how she protests. Because crap on her bum = pain for her. She doesn't understand this. But as her Mommie, it's my job to protect her. To advocate for her, to help her.

I think out of wanting to respect children, we forget an important part, we ARE in charge. Yes, we give them choices, we treat them with respect, and we let them make mistakes. But We ARE the adults. It's not about imposing rules and boundaries...It's about helping children find what is appropriate, and what isn't. It's about holding boundaries that exist and helping them navigate within them successfully. Every one has boundaries.

For example, my boundaries are that my body and my being will be treated with respect. I teach this from infancy on. When a nursing does some thing that is uncomfortable to me, I gently redirect...We reposition, we try again, or we stop the nursing session if they persist. The baby didn't know or have the maturity to understand, but she HAD crossed a boundary. Am I imposing a limit on her? Should I just let her chew my nipple to smitherines for the sake of  avoiding forcing her to do some thing she doesn't want to?

Yeah, no.

I expect my children to protest, I am glad they trust me enough to do so. When I unlatch that little nursling and tell her to hold up. She may very well throw a fit about it. At least the first few times .  But then she catches on...She quickly unlatches when I say "Ouch" and relatches so I'm comfortable. We've learned to work and respect each others boundaries.

I wish I had the energy to go on.  I still have some processing to do. I just feel like the way some of that last post was worded could make you sound completely and utterly permissive and that's some thing I really rail against.

Definitely more to come. I want to talk about arbitrary limits. And I think that blogger was talking about.

Just my processing...I gotta run, I'm half asleep.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I'm so glad I was lead to this post, because I really wanted to respond to your comment on my post, and then I saw you took it down. But after reading this post, I understand you just wanted to work it through a little bit more... :)

    I think you totally "got" what I was trying to say in my post. I'd just like to comment on the last bit where all the "Buts" come in... Really, all I am saying is it's not necessary to have arbitrary limits for the sake of limiting. Or setting arbitrary limits because kids LOVE limits (I have heard that!). I wasn't saying Don't Have Limits. Of course there are natural limits, and there are limits set by other people for actual Reasons. Not just because I said so. Not letting your child bite you is not arbitrary.

    I think you said it very well here and in your next post. It's not "anything goes," it's let's think about it. Question everything. Make sure the limits make sense, especially if they are causing a lot of trouble between parent and child. Thanks again for linking to me, and for the opportunity to clarify my thoughts too!


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