Remember the tagline…

…”I have lots of opinions and I talk too much? In an effort to combat this, I blog.” Yeah. Remember that before you read this

For someone with no kids, I have a LOT of opinions on child rearing. Whether this is because my womb is currently aching for a child (I’ll say it again: baby fever is real y’all) or because I obsess over things that don’t really affect my life (yet) I have no idea. 

It also might be because in the last few years I have taken to reading a lot of “mommy” blogs.

I blame Nat the Fat Rat. It’s a gateway blog.

Moving on.

I recently read a Facebook post from an author of one of my favorite blogs. I’ve pasted it below (emphasis mine)*

One thing I haven’t mentioned in my posts lately about homeschooling vs. other types of schooling for Z is that it’s not all about Z. It’s also about cultivating the kind of family life we want. We want less rush, less stress, more time together. I think those reasons are just as valid as meeting Z’s individual needs. You can expect a post about this in the near future.

And here’s the thing. I don’t. 

I respect that every family has the right to make the decision that work best for their family, and that sometimes, those decisions are going to make you wickedly unpopular with your kids. That’s life.

But kids are not mini-versions of us. They have their own unique sets of needs and wants and–within reason–meeting those needs and wants is important. Even when it directly violates our needs and wants (individually or as a family). 

Because that what love is. It’s sacrificing yourself for others. And it’s wickedly hard and goes against every innate desire we have as humans(brokenness is just supppper fun y’all)

I really believe that a lot of the problems that people experience with kids is the fact that they are simply not listening to what the kid is trying to tell them. We have this weird belief that children come to us as blank slates and we (parents, teachers, family) get to fill up the slate. To an extent that’s true. Kids are brand new people and aren’t (usually) born with the knowledge of why pulling the cat’s tail is wrong. 

But how the learn, what makes them happy and fills them with joy–that’s something we don’t get to decide. That’s something that they’re born with. And it makes me sad–and more then a little angry–when I see the world not respecting that.

Kids are individuals with unique personalities and needs. Parents don’t get to decide what how they learn or what sings to their soul–they do. And we–as a society–need to respect that and them more.

Now, I know a lot of people are going to say “They’re kids.They don’t have all the information/aren’t mature enough/don’t know enough to make these kinds of decisions. Part of being a parent is making decision for the family that you think are best.”

My response to that is:

“They’re not just kids, they’re people. Shorter, younger people but people nonetheless. Part of growing up is making mistakes. As long as they’re not harming themselves (physically, spiritually or emotionally) show them that you trust their instincts enough to let them do what they think is right for them. If they fail–AWESOME! Failure is great because it means that you’re trying. Teach them through example that their instincts are worthy of being trusted, that failure can be good (at the very least it’s humbling and teaching) and that above all–you value their thoughts and feelings.”

So I guess that’s my bullet point for the night y’all. Kids are people. It’s time we started treating them with the respect they deserve. 

*Note: I’m only doing this because it’s a FB page about her blog, which is public. I would never post something word for word from someone’s private page. Privacy is important kids!

**I’d also like to note: I really really like this blog and it’s author. She does a great job of parenting her kids in the way that she thinks is best despite what the world says, and she’s never mean to people who are mean to her. I just happen to disagree with this philosophy.

3 thoughts on “Remember the tagline…

  1. findingmagnolia says:

    It’s me! Z’s mom! I was going to just copy and paste what I messaged you yesterday, but in reading your response in quotes again, I want to give a little more info on our family situation. First, I hope I’ve been clear in my blog posts on the school matter that I absolutely want to honor Z’s requests, as long as they are healthy for her and reasonable. Our MO is to say yes whenever it is appropriate and possible. But it is up to us as parents to decide what is appropriate, as well as to balance family needs as a whole with each person’s needs and wants. In the end, what we decide that affects family life needs to work for everyone. The other huge factor in our family, and particularly for Z, is that trauma changes a child’s brain in a way that affects the instincts. I’d say that, in general, six year olds might not have the best instincts for big life decisions due to the hippocampus being relatively underdeveloped at that age (and school in San Francisco is a big life decision for sure – it’s much more complex than anywhere else I’ve lived, not just a situation where we can enroll her in a decent school and then pull her out if it’s not working), but six years old with instincts that often tell you to do the opposite of what is safe (run into a busy street because you are wired to believe that having parents is unsafe, so what they ask you to do is unsafe, even if it’s safer than what you think you should do) makes this a more complicated situation than it might seem on the surface. I know that not all families are in this predicament, but for us, it’s a daily reality, and we are actually having to teach Z to stop before following her instincts and think through what she needs to do. In time, we will be able to help her create healthy habits and develop instincts that she can trust, be she is not there yet. I know she can get there. I have confidence in her. In the meantime, however, it is up to us, as her parents, to evaluate her needs and her wants and choose what will be best for her and for our family as a whole.

    (Sorry for writing a blog post in your comments; it’s hard to just sum up and have things make any sense at all.)

    • sarahenfrench says:

      Hi Mary! Thanks for commenting! And there’s never a need to apologize for long comments–I love ’em. You’ve absolutely been clear in your blog posts (everyone, go read her blog, it’s kind of awesome. 🙂 ) that you want to honor Z’s requests. In fact, I think you do a wonderful job of balancing that desire with the desire for her to be safe and feel safe. It was never my intention to suggest otherwise.
      I think that this post (and my feelings) stem from a couple of places:
      1. I am not a parent at all and absolutely not a parent of a child who has experienced intense loss and trauma. That changes all the rules, and I can’t even begin to write from that point of view–I don’t want to be so arrogant as to assume I know what it’s like. I don’t, and my perspective stems purely from the theoretical “don’t actually have a real child yet” pov. I’m sure I will laugh uproariously at these posts when I do.
      2. I’m a Montessori gal and a lot of my educational/parental theories stem from that. Montessori is all about meeting children where they are and honoring their instincts about themselves and how they learn–and approaching learning and discipline from a place that makes sense to each kid.
      3. (All of the following is my interpretation, which is subject to be wickedly wrong) What really got me musing on this was your thought that your family’s desire to build a life of less stress, with frequent travel and as much time together as you could get was as important a factor in Z’s schooling as anything else.(I think it was a part of one of your blog posts). Not because it isn’t valid–you have to balance the needs of the family with the need of each individual and everyone has to realize they’re not always going to get what they want–that’s life.
      But mainly because for me–at 6 or 26–that lifestyle runs opposite to my instincts. And if my parents had set out to build a family life like that, I’m not sure it would have made me terribly happy or made a lot of sense to me. Which set me to musing on parents trying to imprint their life goals and preferences on their children, which lead to this post (I am not at all saying that is what you’re doing..I don’t think it is.) I think that as much as parents have the right–and often the need–to create a “family philosophy/style” children also have the right to say that it isn’t working for them and why. That doesn’t mean it’s going to change–no matter what the argument, a 4 year old is not going to be allowed to sleep during the day and party all night–but I think it’s important that they feel able to express that and feel like their parents don’t dismiss it out of hand. And from what I’ve seen–a lot of times kids don’t feel they have that freedom. Which was really what I was arguing for.

      I’d like to finish by saying that I love your blog–I started reading it because my husband and I are seeking to build our family partially through adoption. It’s given me a lot to think about, and I love reading about how fiercely you love and fight for your girls.

      Also, clearly, as this epic comment shows–feel free to write long comments. 🙂

      • findingmagnolia says:

        I think we actually agree about quite a lot. 🙂 I’m going to respond to your numbered points.

        1. You will laugh uproariously at some things you thought pre-kid. But I think you’ll also find that you are largely still the same in many ways. For example, I laugh at the me of pre-parenthood that was all “homeschooling is not for me, public education all the way!” Uh, yeah, that’s not really working out the way I envisioned it in my mind. At the same time, I said I wanted a home free of battery toys and without a lot of kid specific music, and we are doing that. I am a highly sensitive introvert, and I knew that if I wanted to be a patient mom, I needed a somewhat peaceful home. It is totally working out.

        2. I love Montessori! We looked at getting Z into the public Montessori here in SF, and in the process found out about a lot of issues with the school itself and with the way the district would address her needs. While our homeschooling style isn’t a full Montessori approach, I seek to work with Z’s particular learning style and to follow her pace instead of expecting her to keep up with mine. She learns things so quickly when she’s ready; I just have to look for her cues. Turns out that schoolwork is a lot like potty training – when they’re ready, they’re ready, and if you try before they’re ready, everyone will just get upset.

        3. I think I didn’t state quite right what I meant by building the kind of family life we want. I very much include both kids in the “we” part of that equation. We are really lucky that we ended up with a kid that loves to travel as much as we do (and in the same way we do, to the same places over and over, which are familiar yet have the option to explore new things) and a baby that appears to love whatever we want to do as long as she can say hi to everyone in sight. (I’m pretty sure that travel, for Elvie, is just an opportunity to make new friends.) We are traveling this fall largely due to Zinashi’s desire; of course Jarod and I want to go, but we would have structured the budget otherwise this year if we hadn’t realized how fully she has absorbed our fall trip as part of our family life. I know that there are parents who don’t include their kids in the “we” part of making decisions about family life, and I absolutely agree with you that kids should be allowed to say that something isn’t working for them and have that be respected and accommodated if possible. I guess what I was getting at is that there are a lot of reasons to homeschool, and that those are valid in their own right, aside from us being very protective of Zinashi at this point in time. Even if we weren’t parenting kids who have experienced trauma, I now recognize that I still might end up choosing homeschooling (despite the protests of younger me) because we want to have a life that includes time together, less rushing, and travel. I hope that makes more sense!

        Anyway, thanks so much for your post and for prompting me to think deeper and examine my motives. This was so fun!

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