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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

I’m not a very good parent. I believe it’s important to respect my daughter, but after I’ve explained several times that touching those cakes will cover them with germs so no-one else wants to eat them, I tend to fall back on shouting, “Because I say so, now do as you’re told!”

Still, I do try to approach parenting as a collaboration rather than a battle, and something that happened the other week made me realise how different that is from the way I was raised. My mum came round while A was at nursery, bringing a borrowed carpet cleaner to give the living room carpet a much-needed clean. A had played at cutting up paper, and left the bits scattered on the floor; not knowing which bits she wanted to save, I transferred them all into a margarine tub while my mum tidied up the toys with an obvious home.

She held up a couple of empty crayon packets, and asked whether I was saving them. “I’m not,” I said, “but A might be.” Sighing heavily, she told me I mustn’t encourage her to save every random piece of junk that crosses her path, otherwise she will grow up a hoarder.

But I’m not encouraging her to save junk. Every few weeks, we tidy up her bedroom together, and I explain that there’s only so much space, and perhaps she needs to decide which of her bits and pieces she really needs to hang onto. What I am encouraging her to do is take responsibility for her toys and decide for herself what she wants to keep. I think she stands a better chance of having a healthy attitude to her possessions that way than if I snatch the decisions out of her control.

More importantly, I’m encouraging her to trust me. I want her to go to nursery, secure in the knowledge that I won’t use the time while she’s out of the house to sneak things into the dustbin. I haven’t forgotten how it felt to come home from the shops and find the cardboard box that was my house and my boat sitting on a pile of rubbish at the gate; that’s one thing A will not be going through at my hands. As long as she trusts me and I respect that trust, I don’t really care if she fills her bedroom with crayon packets.

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