Creating a home base for your child instead of hovering
Monday, May 5, 2014
“A child’s first steps, first friends, the beginning of school—they are all driven by her need to explore, to know and to master. With any luck, her biological push toward independence has been supported by your biological need to protect, nurture, and delight in her. Her successful, eventual division is dependent on the strength and support of your union.” KJP. From the moment a child is born, they begin separating from their parents, the dance of coming together and separating more and more until they are ready to go out on their own. In humans, this separation takes a long time when compared to other creatures, and yet it can go by very quickly. As Gretchen Rubin says in “The Happiness Project,” “The days are long, but the years are short.” As Kim points out, it is not just biology that shapes the course of this movement together and apart, it is also shaped by love.
We can create a base camp for our children, a safe place they can return to when they need to rest and reconnect, a secure place for them hopefully throughout their lives. In our time, there is a need to protect childhood, to act as a filter for the pillars of too much. Infancy is the period in a child’s life which Erik Erickson calls “trust versus mistrust,” and it is critical for the child’s ability to form attachments and to learning throughout life that they have are able to develop trust during this time. As the parent of a young child, we also deal with trust versus mistrust. Because of love, we may feel the need to stay close to our child even when he needs some space, but we can also choose, again out of love, to trust—the world, our children, ourselves. “When we let our fears overshadow our trust, we’re abandoning the base camp, trying to “go with” our children. Picking up stakes, we’re dismantling what they really need, and boarding the helicopter. Base camps aren’t transient, they aren’t portable.”
Kim writes about helicopter parenting—and other styles of parenting. Do you practice these kinds of parenting? Most of us use some of them sometimes:
Helicopter parent—overinvolvement/ hyperparenting. (This is also where Kim calls cell phones the “world’s longest umbilical cords”!
Sportscasting—the blow by blow telecast
Corporate parent—What’s the bottom line? Preparing the child/product for their “product launch”
Little buddy/best friend parent—no separation between the world of the child and the world of the parent—either bringing the child into the adult world or vice versa.
Clown parent—larger than life, the entertainer, providing an “ever-expanding carnival of delights.”
Love stands behind all of these forms of overinvolved parenting. But we can also, out of love, choose to back off, allow our children to find their way with our support and trust. We can provide them with a base camp until they can create their own through their strength of character and resiliency.
The Mayfair is Saturday, May 17, 10-4 outside the school, weather permitting.
It was great to see those of you who made it to the Spring Celebration/Screen Free week