Children are People Too: (Respect is a Two-way Street, part 2)

When I wrote my last post, Respect is a Two-way Street, I intended to use this quote in the post:

I can remember someone sharing the idea of your child spilling milk on the floor and looking at how you would react and then comparing that to if your best friend was at your house and did the very same thing, spilled milk on the floor and thinking about how you would react.

“Let me help you clean it up.”

“It’s ok. I can get that.”

“No big deal, I do. I do it all the time.”

Are the above statements things you would say to your best friend or maybe a neighbor who was at your house and spilled milk on your floor?

Are these statements things you would say to your children?

Why would you say something kind, helpful and supportive to your friend or neighbor and not to your child?

The first book that comes to mind is, “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk”. By Faber and Mazlish.

And their follow up book, “Siblings without Rivalry.“.

I first learned of these books from a group of amazing women I found in La Leche League. I found LLL when my first born son, Harrison, was one month old. I knew I was going back to work after my 12 week maternity leave and wanted support for continuing to breastfeed when I returned to work. My goal was to nurse him for 6 months which was the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I believe it was December of 1997, when my son was one month old, that the American Academy of Pediatrics changed their recommendation from 6 months of nursing to one year.

I can picture myself at the first La Leche League meeting I attended in Matthews, NC in a building that felt like a comfy old house. I sat on a comfortable couch next to a woman with a 3 month old who was a nurse that worked nights and was home with her baby in the day. I can hear her saying to me, “aren’t they wonderful” referring to her baby and all babies. I hadn’t fully embraced the wonderfulness of caring for a helpless infant.

Motherhood was a slow process for me. I had wanted to be a mother from as far back as I can remember. As a middle child with one older sister and a younger brother, I could not wait to have children of my own and have a little girl, to have that “little sister” that I had always wanted. Yet, when Harrison was born, bonding was a slow process for me. Sure, I instantly loved him, yet, it took time for me to feel a strong bond with him and really feel the connection.

Before I was even pregnant, my husband and I had made a plan. He was staring his own business, working from home and I was the sole breadwinner working full time. I had decided that I could return to work and our future baby could be home with dad until dad grew his business enough for me to work part time. I vividly recall telling my co-workers, “I believe the child can stay home with the father and that is the same thing as the mother staying home with the child.” My co-workers with children and even those without did not agree with me. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to go back to work until my 12 week maternity leave was over and found myself having to return to full time work and leave my baby with my husband.

I could never have returned to work if my baby wasn’t staying home with his dad, my husband and best friend. Yet, it broke my heart to go back to work. I had arranged for reduced hours, 32 hours was all that was needed to keep full time status and my benefits. I coordinated working full days on M-W-F and just 4 hour days on Tuesday and Thursday. I worked just 4 miles from home at a nursing home with great co-workers and an awesome boss. My husband, Don, would bring Harrison to me at work to nurse, when he wouldn’t take the bottle, and later just to visit.

Finding La Leche Leage, changed my life and guided me greatly in being the parent that I am today. It is funny because I remember watching toddlers walk up to their mom and climb in their lap to nurse. I know I thought to myself, “I will NEVER nurse my child past age one.” (Never say never, LOL)

I grew slowly into attachment and peaceful parenting. My baby boy guided me along the way and the example of all the women I met through LLL. I first learned about home schooling from another mom at a LLL meeting. Before I met her, I used to joke I was going to send my kids to Pennsylvania to go to school, because I went to school there most of my life and they are known to have great schools. And I didn’t want my children growing up with a southern accent! (No offensive to my lovely southern friends! I love your accent! I embrace it now.). I was 28 years old when I became a mother and had lived in Charlotte, NC for just 5 years: November 10, 1997.

We were visiting my parents on Lake Murray, SC and had gone to a Columbia Unity church service and then out to eat aftewards. Harrison was about 2 1/2. It might have been the time my parents went to Alaska and we went to their lake house to have a little family vacation, just the three of us. We were eating at this restaurant and a woman came over to us and complimented us on how respectfully we talked to our child. That was the first time that had been pointed out to me that way. It had never occurred to me to do anything but talk respectfully to my child. Her words sealed into my heart with a powerful message, a parenting philosophy was born within me and over the past 18 years, I have thought about what that woman said to me and her words have guided me back to the path when I have strayed.

It has not always been easy to treat my children with respect and many times I have failed. I have made bad choices with my words and actions and have acted in ways that make me cringe. I have had to forgive myself for those mistakes. It has been my biggest challenge: self forgiveness. I feel my shoulders tensing as I write this, thinking about all the times I have been disrespectful to my children, the times when I acted in ways that were just plain horrible.

Yet, I am human. I am a spiritual being having a human experience and mistakes are part of the process and a part of the learning.

We need to embrace ourselves where we are right now.

We can take small, slow steps forward to improving ourselves and improving how we treat our children and ALL children in this world.

All we need to do is remember one word.

Respect

Treat all children the way you want to be treated.

Treat all people on this earth with respect.

My goal in guiding other parents on a more conscious parenting journey is to share my experiences insights and beliefs to inspire others to be the best parent that they can be for their children. We each have a different path and so our parenting will look different as our lives all look different. I strive to respect the differences in all people and our own choices. Our differences make this world a wonderful and amazing place to live. Some of us will send our children to pubic school or private school or boarding school and others will create school at home, or homeschool following a classical approach or an eclectic approach, and others will choose unschooling, and our approach to unschooling might come from different beliefs and philosophies and our lives might look very different. As we each make different educational choices for our children, for our families, we too make different parenting choices.

I learned in LLL to “take what works for you and leave the rest” and this is my message to all who read my blog.

I love to hear feedback and comments from readers. I envision creating a community of support. I also have a facebook page for Child-led learning and invite you to join me there as well if you would like to read more about Child-led Learning.

I will close with inspiring words from an unexpected place:

The wind of change

Blows straight into the face of time

Like a stormwind that will ring the freedom bell

For peace of mind

Let your balalaika sing

What my guitar wants to say

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams

With you and me

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow dream away

in the wind of change

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