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What my Kids Taught ME about "Back to the Basics" Parenting

As an inexperienced new mom, I scoured through tens of books looking for the answers to many of my parenting queries. I treated these parenting volumes like “biblical encyclopedias ” and sought to resolve all dilemmas and pre-empt all the stages of early childhood by arming myself with a stockpile of psychological weaponry. This book- devouring was accomplished mostly while pregnant.

Being the good student I am, upon the birth of my firstborn, whatever the predicament, I consulted with my “team of experts” and attempted to proceed according to the logic dictated in my texts. This practice lasted about three months.

When my baby was about four months, I began to allow my maternal “instincts” to evolve naturally. Soon enough, I started to trust and eventually rely upon them. Not to discredit all the experts, but if you think about it, our parents and obviously all the generations before them, didn’t have such immediate access to this vast sea of information we have today- and they seemed to figure it all out as they paddled along.

Most of us turned out OK despite Mom having not read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Pregnancy Week by Week, What to Expect the Toddler Years, etc. Mothers were encouraged to develop their maternal “sixth sense” and trust in their own judgement. Pediatricians were consulted when we were really ill, not to find out why, at 15 months, we still weren’t babbling the recommended average amount of words.

Whatever the milestone, Mom knew we’d “catch up” when we were ready and didn’t despair.

Maybe I’m raising my children in this generation with the spirit of a mother from generations past because I never seemed to worry about milestones the way many other moms in my day do. Maybe I’m lucky because I never had to. Maybe I never had to because I never pressured my kids to “perform.” Who knows?

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned on the job-

When Mommy gets nervous, we get scared .

My kids all have received their fair share of cuts, bites, bumps, bruises, welts, burns and stitches. Most battle wounds have been hard-earned through rough play. I realized by Kid Number 2, that they’d rather risk injury and have fun, than sit safely by the sidelines avoiding participation. While respecting basic safety precautions, I allow them to explore their surroundings and when someone does get hurt- I stay cool. Their response to the wound-at-hand is a direct reaction to the level of anxiety I wear on my face. When I’m relaxed, despite my internal panicking,(because I know we’ll soon be en route to the ER), they’re brave.

We want to keep playing- so if we bicker, don’t butt in so fast- we’ll work it out .

I remember going on play-dates with my eldest and at the first hint of a “toy struggle,” all anxiety-ridden and embarrassed, I’d intervene and explain the concepts of “sharing” and “friendship” to two disinterested and oblivious tots. The times that my daughter and I didn’t apologetically take off running, I noticed that before I could even finish my preaching about the “dos and don’ts of turn-taking and non-violence,” the kids would again be completely immersed in play as though nothing had ever occurred. Witnessing this, I realized that they will find a way to work it out compelled by their main objective- continuing to play.

We don’t need agendas full of activities if you just pay attention and allow us to impress YOU .

This one was learned when our “chips were down” financially. My children adapted immediately to the new “situation” and discovered an alternative way to pursue their interests. Each one, talented in their own right, comes home from school and indulges in dance, art, soccer, drama, singing or gymnastics “class.” Each finds his “private space,” albeit in a walk-in closet, to practice a chosen activity and then performs and shows off their skills for the family audience. As long as we respectfully pay attention to one another and demonstrate sincere interest and offer praise, signing up and paying for classes all around town is not necessary- at least for now!

Truth be told, these flawless little creatures, have taught me so much about the nature of children and parenting that I could author my own encyclopaedia.

As my husband and I continue to explore and deepen our relationships from a more relaxed, hands-off and “back to the basics” philosophy, a wealth of creativity sprouts forth from these little people and our family life is forever richer as a result.

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