Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Child Is Not Any Of These Things

A child is not a blank canvas. He is not an art project. You don't have to create him or mold him into your vision or your ideal. By the time he is born into this world, your job as the creator is done. Your job now is to help him grow as himself, not to give him a self to grow into.

A child is not a terrorist. She is not your enemy. She doesn't do things on purpose to make you miserable. If there are any battles going on, you can make sure you are on the same side as your child.

A child is not a computer. He is not programmable. You don't have to set routines and stick with them. Your child will let you know if what you are doing is working. Being consistent is only good if you are consistently good. Consistently listen to your child.

A child is not a lab rat. She is not an experiment. You won't get another chance if your methods don't yield a desirable result. This is your only chance.

A child is not a brat. He is not a bottomless pit of need. You don't spoil him by giving too much. However, you can spoil your relationship with him by giving too little, expecting too much.

A child is not an accessory. She isn't here to make you look good. She won't always look pretty or be quiet on command. You can allow her to express herself.

A child is not an animal. He is not to be trained. You don't have to treat him as a performer in your life circus. You don't have to impress others with her obedience. You can show her that her needs and feelings are important by taking them seriously.

A child is not an employee. She is not here to make your life easier. You don't have to assign jobs to teach her about responsibility. Instead you can show her how wonderful responsibilities can be by lovingly taking care of your own and not complaining so much.

A child is a person. He has real needs and real feelings. He may have limited ways or abilities to express himself. You can help him figure out what his needs are and you can help get them satisfied.

When your child is young, you are the only one with a choice in the relationship. You have choices about how to parent. You can parent with fear, constantly trying to manipulate your child to be exactly who you want her to be. You can use shame and guilt to attempt to control your child. Or you can parent with trust, trying to allow your child to be and to love who she already is. You can use love and support and control yourself. Either way you choose, your child has to stick with you while she is young.

However, when your child grows up, she will be the one with the choice. If you want her to choose to continue to stick with you then, start being someone she would choose now. Start trusting, start accepting her now. Understand that the only thing you can truly control about your child is your half of your relationship with her. The only person you can control without fail is yourself.


See also: Children Are Not Baked Goods, at The Path Less Taken.