Thursday, February 9, 2012

French Firm Frame?

A friend shared this article earlier today.  I tried to respond on Facebook, but ended up here instead.  I had a lot to say.  I do not agree with the article for several reasons.  This is the first time in almost 5 years that I have said something in a "discussion/debate" on line, so I want to start with an apology.  If I hurt feelings, I really, really, do not mean to.  Tell me I have.  We'll work it out, and I'll probably shut-up again. :)

#1. Generalizations!!!  I haven't lived in Paris, but when I was there, and in talking with our good friends who DO live there, this isn't quite how it works.  In some cases, I saw the exact opposite.  There is a great trust of the child actually, which I like, and is mentioned once in the article.  I just never saw nor have heard of the firm/authoritarian frame this trust is supposed to be within.

#2.  Where are the ages???  I have four children who all play independently.  They did that when they were DEVELOPMENTALLY ready.  It was different for each of them.  Seriously.  No "education" or stern voices required.  Wait!  There's an age in the first sentence, traveling with an 18 month old.  I went backpacking with an 18 month old.  We didn't bring a crib.  (We've never owned one.)  She toddled around the campsites.  She nursed when she was hungry or thirsty.  I did bring too many little toys/books.  She played with rocks and leaves.  It wasn't that hard, really.  I'd do it again.  I have, seven times in fact, always with more children along for the adventure.  Oh, I was a few weeks pregnant then.  (Sorry, it was 10 years ago.  My memory is fuzzy.)  Now that.  That I'd rather not do again.  The baby was great!  Me?  Not so much.  There are some more ages listed, but my complaint is more about when is a child naturally ready for something, without being trained.  That's important, and the answer is different for each child.  I don't see this mentioned.  And just so you know, my children are 11, almost 9, 7, and a few weeks shy of 3.  I'm 32.  There's our ages.

#3. Speaking of ages and stages, I trust that quite a few children will show these behaviors, and many of them are simply asking a child to act like an adult, when they are ready.  Wait, I just said that.  Some little ones act like children longer than others.  Big deal!  As long as the mother can find support for her adjusted expectations, go for it!!

#4. Further, when my children are ready to eat solids, use utensils, use the potty, sleep through the night, whatever, it's easy and they just do it.  Anna is the only one I did not take charge of her meals.  She's the neatest eater of them all.  She's also the most polite.  Maybe it has something to do with me very rarely, if ever telling her what to say?

#5. Maybe it has something to do with her siblings and myself speaking respectfully to each other?  Children learn best by EXAMPLE.  At the same time, we're talking about nature here.  No matter what methods of nurturing/"education" one uses, some behaviors just are, and are quite age and developmentally appropriate.  If I have a problem with them, I'll redirect and give an example of the behavior acceptable in our family (sometimes society.)  But everyone has a different "level" of what is acceptable.

#6. Just take a walk with your kid around the playground already!!!  See?  That's perfectly acceptable for me!  MY good friends would stroll with me and continue our conversation.  I've had some of the most nurturing discussions in just this way.  If it's not convenient for her at the moment, her child will understand this with a gentle explanation, and maybe she can soon make it convenient.

#7. In order for anyone to learn patience, they need to be put in a situation that is uncomfortable.  A synonym for patience is long-suffering!  Why purposefully have my child suffer?  We wait.  We take turns.  We do delay our gratifications, in developmentally appropriate ways.  We look for ways to enjoy ourselves while we wait.  I believe we're supposed to be happy in life, not suffering.  As my children get older, they learn patience.  Again, without my even thinking about it.  There are times I wish they were a bit more patient, but I wish I was more patient too sometimes.  We're all working on this.  Here's something that is hard for me to accept: How children bake!!  They are messy and SLOW and often get it wrong.  I need more patience than they do!  I do bake with my children and others'.  I know how important it is to them and the memories they hold onto.  Why on earth would I want to turn that into a lesson in "long-suffering" or remove the best part, eating the batter?  Sheesh!  Enjoy your muffins!  Oh, and when people say in order to do everything I do with children I must be so patient, I cringe.  I do what I do because I love children, both my own and others'.  If it's a "chore" or an uncomfortable situation, I do what I can to adjust that and myself, usually my expectations, until I'm happy again and don't have to be "patient" anymore. :)  (I think I'll be in Purgatory a bit longer after that paragraph, avoiding patience and all.) 

#8. My body cannot handle eating as infrequently as the Parisians supposedly do.  Why should I expect my children to?  (Parisian adults pop into local bakeries to grab a hot, fresh baguette or a few crepes or a bonbon a whole lot more frequently then they let their kids eat.  I know.  I've seen them.  It keeps their blood sugar even.  That in turn keeps a human being pretty happy. :)  )  I really do not like the correlations she draws here.  Kids sit quietly because they are hungry or have learned to delay their hunger signals??  What about: Kids sit quietly because they are developmentally ready to do so AND their parents value a meal shared together as a family, and therefore set the example of what behaviors are expected.  Please note: I have a child that likes to stand quietly at the table.  I didn't even notice until another adult pointed it out recently.  It's just who she is I guess.  I don't really care.

#9.  INDEPENDENCE  This is my new least favorite word.  I did use it earlier though.  I like when my children play independently because it is quiet.  Simple as that.  I LOVE when my children play together or with other children or with myself or another adult.  Why?  Because that is what life is about.  We do not live on a desert island.  I do not want them to.  I remember the monkey from my Psych book.

My children need to know how to interact with others to survive (and they need a food source available to them, when their body tells them they're hungry.)  Let me rephrase that.  The most important thing is that my children learn to be INTERDEPENDENT.

#10. If one kind of parent is "superior", another must be "inferior".  That's not true, (the inferior part.) I is judgmental and not even nice.  Everyone is doing their very best with the information and support they have available at that moment.  This maybe should be #1, but this is the order I thought of these.

What if I have children that would fit right into Paris?  They sit quietly in restaurants.   They sleep through the night, most of the time.  They wait their turn, most of the time.  They listen and respond, very well, most of the time.  They say "excuse me" when they have something to say, most of the time.  They don't eat batter, but they sure love to lick the bowl and spoon afterwards, most of the time.  (Sometimes they don't even do that.  Crazy children!)  But they can get a snack whenever they want.  I listen to them and respond.  I try not to control them, only because I really do not like it when someone tries to control me.  I save "no" for dangerous situations.  (A sure sign that I need more sleep: I start to say "no" more.)  Yet they know and understand that I am their mother, and my job is to guide them and keep them safe, in the sandbox and outside the fence.  My cadre holds both.