Holistic Parenting ~ #1 Trust Your Child

I have been a parent for over 22 years and in that time my methods and experiences of parenting have changed quite dramatically. When I think back to how little I knew at the start, and how unsure I was, I’m surprised I didn’t make more of a mess of it than I did (though I did make a lot of mistakes in the early years). I used to think everybody else was an expert and I knew nothing. But the truth is there are no experts. And yet we frequently look to other parents or society for the answers to every little concern from eating and sleeping to education and discipline.

And the amount of information available is simply overwhelming. There is so much conflicting advice out there that it is difficult, if not impossible, to separate what works and what doesn’t. Parenting should not be a minefield that we need multiple handbooks to navigate. Over the years I have discovered some perspectives that have helped me and my children to live in a way that works for us.

Parenting is a challenging process, for sure, but it can be natural and enjoyable if we let it be.

So I thought over the next several blogposts I’d share some of the holistic ways of thinking and being that have helped in my parenting journey. Not because I’m an expert, but because these things have helped me and given me confidence in the natural parenting process.

1. Trust Your Child
When I use the word ‘holistic’ I mean ‘whole’. When it comes to making decisions we consider the whole child, the whole family, the whole situation. And the children are involved in the choices that will have an impact on them (as age and understanding allows). This way the family is not a top down authority from parent to child, but we are a team who are all invested in the outcomes.

We work together. So my children have a say on such things as –

  • What groceries are bought – and often do the shopping themselves 
  • Their education – my son is home educated and my daughter attends school, both out of choice.
  • Their bedtime – Emily knows if she has school the next day she is responsible for getting to sleep at an appropriate time and ensuring her homework is done.
  • The rules that we should all abide by so the house runs smoothly – picking up after ourselves, being quiet if others are asleep etc.
  • If one of the children wants to buy something – we discuss how we can make this happen, perhaps by cutting back on something else.
These are just a few of many choices that are made over the course of a week.
I must say that it has taken a few years to get to this place where we are capable of working together this well. The main reason this would not have worked before was because of the way I was behaving as a parent. I thought it was my job to give orders, and the children’s job to obey. This simply does not work, not at all, not in any instances. If you become a parent dictator your children will rebel in some way. I’ve been there and it’s not pretty. 
But I believe it is never too late to change and learn to work together. I have to tell you it is such a relief to know I can rely on them to make their own choices these days – they are a lot better at decision making than I ever was as a child. 
It’s difficult to trust your child in a world that insists children aren’t able to be trusted. But if children are given the resources to make educated decisions, with someone helping and guiding them through, trust is natural. There is no reason to make bad decisions.
~ Carla Martinez

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