I’ve never been a fan of authority. I’ve rarely taken direction from someone I haven’t respected. I don’t like being told what to do. This in itself can be somewhat of a problem.
I’ve been wrestling with the authority I now have as a parent. Because there is some degree of authority to being a parent. Now that Eve is three she’s able to communicate freely, express her emotions and her intentions. It is sometimes the case that her intentions and/or actions go against what constitutes as normal behaviour. Which can require a variety of management techniques.
“Normal” behaviour is only what we as her parents perceive to be as such. In reality we can only bring to the table what we have learnt. The totality of the essence of any being comes from that individual being’s experience of life at that point in time. So what is normal? I’m not normal. I’ve met lots of people who don’t feel normal, all with brilliant, sparkly eyed children. All somehow guiding their children through their lives with particular patterns of behaviour. Somewhere a level of authority has to come into it. And power. A dangerous ability in the wrong hands.
Her actions which are life threatening to her or others need to be managed with a tight lipped diplomacy. I frequently lose sleep imagining some horrific accident involving my children so seeing it nearly happen first hand is quite stressful. It could be very easy to lose control in that instance, to rage at the child. I’ve seen it happen countless times. My daughter is three. She doesn’t understand the perils of deep water. Or why she can’t place her hand onto a opening door on the underground. These things need to be explained to her calmly so she can understand the situation. Life is filled with life threatening things. I don’t feel that using anger to make a point is of any use. Controlling my own stress levels is important.
Sometimes she feels that it’s her fault and that we’re angry with her. Sometimes her behaviour is just plain embarrassing. Occasionally her behaviour simply goes against what I feel is correct. I’ve now come to realise this is wholly irrelevant to her. My idea of what is correct, and my subsequent behaviour, is only based on what has been passed down from my peers and my own personal misadventures.
As I am now her peer I have to pass on what I know to her. In the finer details of life this becomes interesting. Table manners for example. Why I expect her to understand the importance of something like table manners is beyond me. Yet it bothers me. And I start to remind me and others around me of my father. My father was very strict about table manners.
But I’m not my father. And do I really care that much about table manners? For me this is where it all gets a bit messy. Who am I to tell her what’s right and wrong? I’d rather she developed the instinct and confidence to find out for herself.
I think it’s about finding what works for you. What you think is important and giving them the space to work it out for themselves. Allowing them to question it. But also being genuinely interested in what information they bring back to you. Because they can’t wait to tell you how they did it all by themselves. And to see how proud you will be.
Often what they’ve learned from a certain situation can be very different to what you might think or feel. It’s important to remember that your preconceived notions or ideas are yours, not your children’s. They might feel you’re wrong which is great because then you’re learning something. If you choose to listen to the reasons why. In any case if my children weren’t challenging me I’d be disappointed.
There are too many variables in so many lives to make any judgement calls. But my daughter sees the world through a curious telescope. I want her to tell me all about it.