Opposites attract..?

So, people say opposites attract… I’m not sure what people, but people do. From my experience, since becoming a mother, I have seen more animosity than anything when it comes to different parental approaches. Some people seem to behave like rowdy politicians in the House of Commons, but with far less tact or dignity.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I pictured a wonderful journey of bringing up this little person that was growing inside me. I imagined her, I was filled with excitement, love and pure joy. I never imagined I would be defending my parental choices to my friends, family and even strangers like it was some sort of political policy. I shouldn’t have to defend myself or validate my beliefs, nobody should. None of my choices are illegal or unethical, therefore, it isn’t anyone’s business how I wish to raise my children.

Isn’t it silly that friends and family can fall out and become hostile over a preference in parenting choices!? Parents feel they have to defend their methods almost. Would you defend the fact you liked to eat strawberry ice-cream to a friend that hated it and preferred vanilla? Would you try to make someone feel bad about preferring heavy metal if you preferred classical? Probably not!
So why on earth do some people feel it’s acceptable to bully others (because that’s what it is, let’s not sugarcoat it!) for their choices on how they wish to raise their children?

I’m far from innocent in this though, after all, we are all human and nobody is perfect. However, I have found that I have only disagreed with the opposition out of defence. For example, myself and a friend fell out when we had both just become new mothers. We both disagreed with one another’s (for some stupid reason) parenting approach, in particular this was about breast verses bottle – a common and often catty debate. I won’t go into the details of what was said on both parts, as it’s irrelevant. Anyway, needless to say, we achieved nothing from our disagreement.

I genuinely don’t care how people feed their child, educate their child, transport their child but when my methods were challenged, I became extremely defensive. Perhaps this is what is happening to a lot of people. Perhaps it’s a vicious cycle of defence mechanisms.

Even though I have fallen into the trap myself, I still don’t understand it. It doesn’t explain how it starts in the first place… I guess it’s a case of ‘what came first? The chicken, or the egg?’

I don’t know why people behave this way, all I know is, it is not acceptable. It’s nobodies business how someone decides to raise their children. Why can’t we all just get along and accept that everybody looks different, has different belief systems, holds different political views and everybody has different parenting approaches.

If you are someone who has criticised somebody else for their personal choices, ask yourself, ‘why?’
Ask yourself, ‘how does their choice affect me?’
If the answer is ‘it doesn’t’ and that person is causing no harm to their child, then I think you should perhaps consider the other persons feelings before you begin your shaming quest. If the answer is ‘it does’ then I highly recommend you seek professional help – or perhaps get a hobby or something!

Most parental decisions are not made on a whim and most parents generally research a lot. For example, I made the decision not to smack my children or use isolation methods (such as time out) as a form of discipline. You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who have said that my children will become spoilt. I have also heard the line ‘the problem with society these days is the fact parents feel like they can’t smack, that’s the reason for so much crime…’ this is probably the most uneducated response to my decision because roughly 90% of parents use isolation techniques and smack their children, so it’s hardly likely that all the criminals in the world are the 10% of children coming from smack free homes. The point I’m trying to make is, just because one method may work for one person, it doesn’t mean it will work for another. Parenting isn’t a case of ‘one size fits all’.
Not only that, it is my choice on how to raise my children!

Parenting should be an enjoyable journey, not a competition. There’s already enough judgement out there from officials without fellow parents, friends and family making it worse for one another. We should be helping one another respectfully, not criticising each other disrespectfully.

Life is too short. Live and let live.

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Adding education into everyday life

So although I’m taking a relaxed approach to home education, I still find myself worrying whether or not I’m doing enough. However, I also worry about over structuring things, resulting in my children being (possibly) put off from learning. Either way, I do feel it’s important to have goals, it doesn’t matter how you achieve them as long as it’s resulted in you reaching those goals.

So, at the moment my goal is to teach my eldest to read, and by this I don’t mean I expect her to read Shakespeare by the end of the month, I just mean I am giving her the tools so she can eventually work out how to read in the future. She’s only three and a half, so I’m not pushing anything.

I have found a great way of adding our current educational goal into our lives. Ok, so we do the whole reading stories together but I wanted to add more where I could, so she can become familiar with words on an everyday basis, rather than just at story times.

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I have been labelling absolutely everything and anything in sight! I don’t mention it to her, I let her spot them for herself. I find she is then the one to instigate learning by asking what it says or making it a game and trying to guess what it says. Either way, I got the desired effect – she shows interest and is eager to learn. Also with the labels being up constantly, she may lose the curiosity at some point but they will become part of daily life, so the idea is that she ends up recognising the words eventually.

Now, I don’t advocate that children watch television 24/7 but I’m sure there are times when we all let our little ones indulge in their favourite cartoons for whatever reason. Well, to make this educational just stick the subtitles on. It’s great seeing little ones spot words they’ve learned, my daughter has done this on a few occasions. Even if they don’t actively pay attention to the words and they are simply engrossed in their favourite programme, that’s ok, because they’re still being surrounded by letters and words and (hopefully) they are taking it all in subconsciously.