“Parents often think that they are here to guide the little ones. When -in reality – the little ones come forth with clarity to guide you” -Abraham Hicks.
How many parents would dare to let their child take the lead in their own needs? How many parents would dare to believe that this little, innocent soul who sits in front of you knows what is best for them? Not many.
As adults we are conditioned by all sorts of external ‘requirments and expectations’ and in turn we believe these to be expectations that we therefore have to build and enforce in our children. But what if the child knows best?
“So do you go to nursery school?”, my little daughter looks up and answers what she always does “No, I don’t like it”. Only 4 and she has been asked this question for the last 2 years of her life from family to strangers on the street. Having ‘tasted’ the experience on a few occassions, when she had asked to attend, those few days were enough to make up her mind, it was not an experience she wanted to repeat.
My daughter is one of the most amazing people I know, her innocence and zest for life palpable in her squeals of delight at seeing an animal. Her joy and mature gentle touch when interacting with a baby. The fact she can’t choose one favourite colour so picks 3. Her avid interest in world facts and her amazing retention of this knowledge. I could go on, but just like any other little child there is so much to her, so many unique interests and ability, already visible at such a tender age. Yet no one else seems interested in this. Instead she gets asked the ‘generic’ adult questions. Those questions that hold no real interest in her as a person but are the questions as adults we are ‘programmed’ to ask, to seem, well, interested.
To be fair, I don’t think it’s because people aren’t interested, or indeed don’t care, it’s more a ‘natural programming’ that takes place within our lives. As small children ourselves, we were told how to behave, what is expected of us, what will make us happy and ultimately how to ‘fit’ into society and as a consequence, many of us, go about our daily lives playing a role, in quiet duty to society by what we have been programmed to expect and believe. Most, will never question this conditioning.
I would classify myself as someone who ‘consciously parents’. Whilst this may appear quite, ‘new age’ to many, really it simply boils down to understanding your child for who they are, listening to their needs, taking action to meet their true needs and quite often having a strong enough conviction that no one knows your child like they do and therefore making decisions the world may not necessarily ‘agree with’ or indeed stepping out of ‘societies norms’.
Growing up in the UK my daughter will have been offered a ‘free nursery placement’ from the age of two years old. Given I have a background in Psychology, I am very aware of cognitive development within these early years and how they therefore transpire into our ‘adult’ lives by giving us a sense of our position in this world, our values and ultimately shape our personality. I don’t want this article to become one of a psychological standing, but for those who wish to read further there are many notable Early Childhood Cognitive Development Psychologists and their studies/theories which you may want to read more on, Piaget (1896 -1980) being one of the most notorious. In synopsis, we have discovered through research, that the ages between 2-7 are the years in which we can confuse superficial appearances with reality, we increase our use of language and symbols through imitation of the adults around us and an age whereby we have the inability to distinguish between our own point of view and that of others. So in essence, what and whom we expose our children to between these ages have a great impact on how they view themselves and the world as a whole. At 3 my daughter knew that ‘nursery school’ was not for her. How you may ask? Well, it is my personal belief that the ‘innocent’, not having a sense of ‘society’ or ‘expectations’ are some of the only people in this world who really are in touch with their true needs.
How many people take time to look at the ‘policies’ of the nursery? The character and personal beliefs of the staff members? To really look and see if it is an enironment the child will ‘flourish’ in or indeed ‘sabbotage’ the little light that exists within that little soul? Unfortunately, not many. Therefore, one must assume that ‘most’ go down the nursey route because it is ‘expected’, it is what ‘society’ and the ‘government’ tells us is right for our children and we do not question. On a personal level I have had the privilege of interacting with many amazing pre-school teachers, who ultimately would hold my value set, but even they admit that their ‘personal’ values become redundant in the classroom setting due to the system of ‘tick-boxes’ and impersonal brackets by which they must now abide and this is in addition to the sheer lack of resource to effectively nourish the individual child’s needs and the day effectively becomes ‘crowd control’ for many of these teachers. My daughter felt this and her psyche rejected the environment with much vigor.
I want to make clear that I don’t deem myself to be ‘a better parent’, will ‘always get it right’ or indeed that ‘I love my child more than others’, of course not! The point I am trying to make is that I want my child to be nourished in a way that is most effective to her individual needs and I don’t believe that a ‘blanket system’ is the most effective route for her. I actively try and listen to her needs, what is being said, what is being unsaid and try and make conscious decisions to reflect this, regardless of what is deemed ‘right’ and ‘wrong’by societies standards.
So where do we head after this? Does she go to school? Does she not? I honestly don’t have the answer to this. I try and ‘live in the moment’, addressing the needs as they transpire, but for now she has been clear that her wishes are not to attend.
I feel passionate in my convictions that we are all as unique as our fingerprints and this includes our children. What is right for one, may not be conducive to another. I can honestly say I don’t judge anyone for their personal choices. How could I when I know nothing about your life or indeed your child’s needs? I’m simply saying that its ok to be different. Its ok to not do things ‘by the book’. Its ok to trust your own intuition, its ok to trust that your child knows their own needs best, even when the entire world tells you differently. Whilst I used nursey school as the example in this article, conscious parenting is much more than this. It’s seeing that your child is enough as they are, its understanding they don’t have to fit into a mould the world has pre-defined for them, its letting them fully express themselves, honoring ‘who they are’, even if it is against your own personal wishes and ultimately seeing that in a mad world, the innocent are usually the guides back to ‘sanity’.
Dare to be different, dare to not judge, dare to look at our world from another perspective and sometimes, just sometimes, seeing that the child is the teacher and as parents we are the students.