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Why I don't force my kids to do stuff.
Former sleeper Valerie Stone Hawthorne believes in allowing children to roam free on prairies and to pick their nose if it feels good.
By Valerie Stone Hawthorne, Ph.D., aka, Mompetition
I'm not going to stand on my soapbox here. By current medical guidelines and common sense, my kids are qualified to be adults in some countries. In fact, if this were 1920, they would both have jobs by now and support our family with their income. But this is 2011, things have come a long way and it's now time that we stop the madness that is "growing up." It seems that all parents out there are concerned for, wait for it: their child's development. To that, I say hooey and free-range hogwash.
|Valerie Stone Hawthorne, Ph.D.|
likes to sit in fields with flowers
Although the "delays" my children display can be markers for spoiled bratitis and perpetual infant disorders, I trust my intuition and trust our pediatrician (who tells me exactly what I want to hear, which is why we chose him). Just because I obtained my doctorate in cancer biology would not mean I'd be concerned if my son appeared lethargic and had night sweats. Confused yet? Of course you are. Seeking help only proves my point that you are not as intuitively equipped as I am to raise your children.
We have no daycare, social or kindergarten standards to meet (my kids eat dirt), no one to impress (which is why I keep putting my methods out there) and we have nothing to be ashamed of (except my hair style in the early nineties; whoa!). My kids are fine. You may not think so, but you are wrong. Confused yet? You are still wrong.
Here are some other things I hate to force kids to do, and by kids I mean ALL kids, even yours.
Share. I go bizonkers when I am at the park with my kids. Parents are trying to teach their children stuff, suggesting to them it would be nice to share toys. Here’s my beef: when my kid is done with that toy, he'll throw it on the ground, your kid can then pick it up and play with it, but most likely they won't because my kids toys are sticks and feathers and your kids are too dumb to know their beauty (Being a Ph.D. allows you to write run-on sentences). If your kid is not done with a toy, my kid can go ahead and wait, even if they will throw a hissyfit about it. Hissyfits are adorable and each one should be cherished and memorialized. It’s my job as a parent to sit back and watch them act like the little brats they are. Who needs guidance? Stepping in to intervene and teach my kid the joys of sharing will only lead to further parenting later on. It's important to teach this from infancy. Allowing a child to keep whatever he wants (my nipple) and throw a fit about things he does not get (a 15th nursing session at night) teaches him that we are all on this Earth to serve his needs. Isn't that what childhood is about?!? Confused yet? Ok, I'll dumb it down. Children are the end all be all in a healthy adult lifestyle. Wanting to re-direct their thoughts only serves your own purpose of civility. My husband and I learned this philosophy from an amazing educator called blu-ray edition Planet Earth. You want something, you take it. Not forcing sharing lets children know that they get to decide what they want, such as choosing not to sit at the dinner table with family or exploring the cat box.
Be Polite. In much the same way you hope your children grow up to become clones of yourself, you should also make sure you do not force them to be polite with anyone. Polite is for fancy schmancy society and it's more important that a child's ego does not get bruised because you force a "thank you" when handing him a strip of organic soy jerky. My husband and I practice "please" and "thank you", and we hope that in time, perhaps by middle school our children will copy us exactly without being forced to do so. When I want my husband to help out with the dishes, asking, "Would you please mind terribly getting up off your ass and cleaning up this mess, thank you" we are modeling manners. Politely asking, "Honey, do you mind leaving our family nest bed so that our little darlings can stretch out more, thank you," not only reinforces manners but teaches our children that no adults come before them and their needs. There was one and only one time, I almost made a tragic parenting error. Confused yet? I know, I'm perfect. But, at a birthday party when family members clearly expected a “thank you” for my son's new do-it-yourself flower preserving kit, I almost whispered, “Say thank you!", in his precious perfect ear. Think of the damage I could have done! He would have conformed to a social normality and what's next, making him do thank you cards?
Excel. Just because your child starts to branch out and show interest in things does not mean you should foster that need. Your child's main focus should always be you. Yes, you can teach your 8 or 9 year old to recite alphabets, learn colors, shapes and the Rain Dance of Zuni, but is this really what a child needs?!? Look, I’m not saying it's unnatural to want your kids to learn things, but come on does a 3 year old really need to know basic communication? Our educational system expects our children to know certain things by certain ages in order to build upon knowledge. Confused yet? I'll type slow. Childhood is so precious that we should take our children and place them in a little glass bubble of happiness. Letting children develop on their own time frame is what parenthood is all about. If my son showed an interest in golf or acting, do you think I'd start teaching him a proper hand grip or how to speak? Hells no. Allowing my children to just roam in a
I have heard through my homing pigeons that there are people out there that force children to conform to society or start on the path to adulthood. What they don't realize is that they are laying a path for future foundational independence. Teaching a child the skills to function independently from yourself will cause them to grow up and leave you. Confused yet? Your child is a monkey.
Yes, I am a bit cerebral about parenting, I have to be - I'm a doctor. Using words like cerebral instead of I think a lot, show you that. Just think, if my parents had supported my interests, taught me things or had expectations you wouldn't be privy to my superior advice. For many reasons, which I won't go into, I believe in child-centered
Valerie Stone Hawthorne starred on the internet and currently appears in her bathrobe. She earned a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology and Cell Biology in 2006, and wrote her thesis on chemotherapeutic resistance to breast cancer, which obviously qualifies her to write blogs about parenting your children. Hawthorne is writing out a check to her kids pre-school so she can grocery shop in peace. She has boy/girl twins, aged 2.75 years. She is currently blogging at TheMompetition.com and thanks SPW for turning her on to this.