Ah kids. Such a gaping, huge puzzle to those of us grown up to better things. Kids to do as they’re told. Kids to be polite. Kids not to talk or yell or shout. Kids not to climb or jump on things. Kids not to ask too many questions.
Shy kids don’t get yelled at so much. Those naturally ‘good’ kids who are pretty content to do as they are told. Sit in the corner. Not to speak out. They are ‘cute’ because they are too scared to talk, they don’t get in our way or demand our attention. We can give attention only when we feel like it.
Kids like my fiery red-head get told off more. Curious kids get told to stop touching, stop asking questions, stop gawking. Kids with more energy get told to sit still.
Kids have to live with the world and some rules help this assimilation.
But why do the shy kids get let off (until their shyness becomes an obstacle at least) while those struggling, curious, energetic kids are molded into…something they are not.
I read a blog post about one woman’s shy little girl. She is accepting that her child can be just her. If her is shy then be just that…gloriously…says she.
My girl is not shy. She is spunky, bold, curious, energetic, questioning, interested, fun-loving, mischievous, loving, wriggling, happy.
She can be a bit rude. She needs to learn to sit still through dinner. She mustn’t hit her brother. And she needs to learn to respect the property of others.
But her curiosity, her inquiring mind, her energy, her funniness. I want that all to remain. I want to foster her true nature so that as she grows she will be in no way conflicted and she will follow the path she was made to follow.
I remember being puzzled at grown-ups rules. I remember feeling frustrated that no one would take the time to explain ‘why’. These days when Sophia asks ‘why’ I take the opportunity to ask myself: ‘Yes, why? For goodness sake, why?’ Sometimes the ‘why’ shows us where our true priorities lie and shows us that we are caving to a value that we actually do not hold dear. The ‘why’ must be asked.
Growing up, the rules still held me back. The rules were not liberating. I felt fear at crossing some unspoken line and bearing the consequences. Rules are not always helpful. Rules can bind us. Rules only go so far. I would rather teach my little girl to understand the consequences and make good decisions, than just follow a long list of arbitrary, obsolete, valueless rules.
I feel that, as the world goes on, it fills with people and fills with rules. I feel that, in the future, when my girl is facing this world full of people and full of rules, I would rather her be able to see the rules and navigate around them, possibly break some of the stupid ones (there are stupid rules), and live a life of freedom and decision. And not always be the one who lives by the rules. I’d like her to have the courage to break the old rules and make new and better rules, to be able to think outside the rules box.
I guess this is my parenting aim.
This society of ours builds a bunch of common values: Values money, values property, values power, values relationships, values career, values government, values safety.
Not all values are ‘good’. Some values are destructive (e.g. the love of money often takes place in peoples hearts over the love of people). So, I am open to raising my children outside of societies normal values. Every parent passes on their own values. Self-control may be a big value for some, so they raise their children around this. For others sleep is a big value, this is what they instill in their child, and the value gets passed on. Adventure can be another value. Creativity another. An inquiring, scientific mind another. Stability another. Strength (physical, mental, emotional) another.
And so all our children grow up to be different. Just like us.
As a parent I sometimes struggle with how I think others think I should be raising my children. There’s pressure from everywhere: Family, School, Government, Society, Friends. They all seem to have something to say on the right and wrong things for parents to do.
We’re all different. And that’s okay. We need stable kids. Stable adults. Law-abiding kids. Law-abiding adults. Creative kids. Creative adults. Risk takers. Kids that challenge the norm. Adults that challenge the norm. Strong kids. Strong adults. Wimpy kids. Wimpy adults. We need leaders and followers and managers and visionaries. So, our kids won’t always fit into one little box of ‘obedience’.
And that’s okay.