Friday, March 28, 2014

Ignoring My Children

I recently read this article on the Benefits of Ignoring Children (Sometimes) over at MDC. I agree with the majority of what this mama writes. My husband's new boss has commented to him that we are raising independent children that can problem solve on their own. She thinks this is rare in this day and age because of all the things we give our kids and the safety nets we have set up. I had to reflect on this a bit. Do I want independent children? After all, I loosely follow an attachment parenting philosophy does this go against what I believe? Am I doing this intentionally or is this just because I am a selfish person? I've written on the topic of independence and AP before here in response to another article. So you all know that I don't think it's an either/or. I guess I agree more with this mama than the other because she does not feel that meeting an infants needs is akin to making an older child dependent on you for every little thing. 

The article talks about the guilt mother's feel when they take time for themselves. I thought I had written a post on losing the mommy guilt but it must have been an intention I never fulfilled because I cannot find it. I have felt this guilt when I have decided to go to the gym or take an extra shift. I have felt it when I happily go off to work and send them off to daycare. I've often wondered why H never feels this guilt? I guess he does, just in a different way. He probably wouldn't label it as guilt. But he often needs permission to go off and do something not family related on the weekend because he feels obligated to spend time with us. Not that he doesn't enjoy being home but he, just like me, needs time to pursue hobbies and self interests. I'm thankful he is so dedicated to his family so that we can work together to balance meeting our own needs outside of the family. I do feel more guilt meeting my needs and ignoring the children when he is home. This often feels like I am abandoning him. I'm not. I always keep an ear out for chaos and true needs. But it may look this way if I go take a bath or read a book in another room while he is in the room with the children. I feel the guilt most keenly when I have company or family over and they are doing their own thing because the children are not their responsibility. I feel like I can't ignore the kids because then that causes them to gravitate to the next adult who likely feels obligated to respond. I guess I need a sign that says 'Feel free to ignore my kids. They like it.'

I think boredom and free play are important for adults and children. I believe that it is integrally important for my kids to see me pursuing activities and satisfying needs that don't involve them. Which means that I cannot satisfy their every need or I would be perpetually drained. That is why the first year of a child's life is so exhausting for me. I do need to meet their every need. I get that and I'm good with it. But I must admit that when they gain some independence I enjoy parenting more. I love my babies. I do not love the baby stage. 

So yes, I ignore my children purposefully on a regular basis. I ignore their requests, pleas, whines, or cries. Even if they are being completely polite and well behaved I will still usually ignore them. Don't get me wrong, I really like that they are polite but I still would like them to try and figure it out by themselves first before coming to me. This is not to say that we don't help each in this house, we do. However, I realize that one of my top values and wishes for my children is self-sufficiency. So my parenting approach as they get older is 'Yes I love you. Go figure it out.' followed by 'Try it again a different way' and finally 'Ok now I can give you some help'. It's all age appropriate of course. I do not let the 5 year old manage the stove or the sharp knives by herself. This is what works for me as a parent and my sanity. I think it's working for my kids. They don't seem too messed up ;)

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