Over at PAIL, I was the moderator in charge of November’s Monthly Theme Post Topic regarding “how long is your leash?” My thought process behind the prompt was to find out if people felt their ALI (adoption/loss/infertility) backgrounds affected their parenting styles, or if it had just evolved as a natural facet of who they are as people and what their children’s personalities are like. (see the list of suggested writing prompts here)
As I sit down to (finally) write my contribution to the topic, I find myself not quite sure what to say. Thus far, I’ve found myself to be a pretty relaxed parent. I’m definitely the most “hands off” of my friends around here, but as a wise, wise friend of mine said, it’s easy to idealize yourself as a certain “type” of parent when the kiddo is little. Once the cute baby turns into the rambunctious toddler, all bets are off, and it becomes a LOT HARDER to always parent in the way in which you envisioned.
- Patience, honey. We need to take turns.
- Are you throwing a fit, Stella? Yes. We don’t throw fits to get our way. Okay, Mommy. [commence more fit throwing]
- Stella, what’s wrong? I so sad, Mommy. I’m sorry you’re sad baby, why are you sad? I cry I so sad, Mommy. Yes, Stella, I can see that, but WHY are you crying? Because I so sad, Mommy.
And round and round we go…
My daughter turns two next week, and suddenly I’m at this precipice of realizing my parenting “style” (if you could even call it that) could drastically be changing as we head into the 2 & 3 year old territory. This slightly terrifies me as I’m about one month out from adding an infant to the mix, and Stella is what one would call a handful lately.
Thus far I’ve given her a pretty long leash, and I don’t think that my ALI background has changed how I parent at all. I somehow escaped the non-stop worrying about things like SIDS when she was little (IMO, this was thanks to bed sharing and nursing), and even as a newbie toddler at the park, I let her get quite a ways away from me as she explored her environment and accumulated her bumps and bruises. I stay a ways away and let her duke it out with other little friends for toys (with some gentle correction about taking turns if needed), but I definitely have never told her she has to give a toy up just because another kid wanted it. That’s not sharing – that’s giving up your turn without reason. I’d rather teach the other kid about patience and taking turns, and the same goes for MY kid when she wants a toy that a friend is using (or an iPad that her Daddy is on!).
As I read over that last paragraph though, I think about one of my best friend’s kids, and it would be hard for her to parent like that. Her son is a climbing, running, hitting ball of energy, and whooo-boy, that would be so much different than my daughter who can spend time contentedly playing chai tea party with herself as often as she likes to run in circles around the kitchen island.
So there ya go… I don’t feel like my ALI background has affected my parenting, but I do think my child’s individual personality has allowed me to parent in the way I have thus far. That being said, all bets are off for how my parenting style can (and will) evolve and she grows and changes and as a second child is added to the mix.
Parenting – it’s quite the journey, isn’t it?