Thursday, December 31, 2009

Permission to Parent

There seems to be a lot of confusion about Child led parenting these days. Listening to a baby's cues and meeting their needs is NOT spoiling them. It is what parents do because babies are helpless.

The key to knowing when to pull back and when to do for an older child is this: Never do for someone what they can honestly do for themselves.

NOW notice this does not mean you do not tie your toddler's shoes just because you think or someone else thinks they "should" be able to do this for themself. This means that once they know how to tie their shoes it is not in their best interest or yours for you to tie their shoes. They need to feel competent, the need to feel in control of their own body and their ability to take care of themself. Again within reason.

However, on a weekly basis I have parents who write to me to ask if their child should be drinking, having sex and a myriad of other outrageous behaviors that are not appropriate for a child under the age of 18 or 21. Parents have written and asked me if they should allow their underage child to get, married, have sex, or get a job. On the other hand I have parents who write me and tell me the horrors of an out of control child who is abusive to them and other family members only to find out the child is 18-26 (some are even 30!).

It is almost as if parents can't find their base. That inner guidance that tells them when to exert parental influence and when to pull back so their child can grow into an adult.


A child's brain is not done forming until approximately 25 years of age. Why we even allow 21-25 year olds to drink, get married or go to war is beyond my comprehension. This period of time is for them to become independent. Learning how to get jobs, pay bills and so on and so forth.

Under age children are never to be told it is okay to have sex, drink, or get married! This isn't based upon values. It is basic common sense. They need time to grow and become emotionally competent human beings.

On the other hand young children do not need to be repressed and over controlled. It is during these years that we have the opportunity as parents to allow children the space to make decisions and to learn that our actions have consequences. Love and Logic, Positive Parenting, Nurturing Parenting and Attachment Parenting are all parenting philosophies that I strongly support. Getting with other parents who hold these philosophies is helpful for most parents as they can then guide, support and mentor each other into a kinder more compassionate parenting style without abdicating the responsibilities of being a parent during the teen years.

What do you think?

Enjoy my recommended reading list below.