I've been a mom for fifteen plus years now. A stay at home mom for nearly eleven. A homeschooling mom for a little over nine. Before I came home to stay with my own children I taught other people's young children in an early childhood center.
I don't claim to know it all when it comes to kids, but there are things I know without a doubt, believe in so strongly it gives me goosebumps, and will defend until the day I die. Here are some of those things.
...that babies should be picked up when they cry, that Cry It Out is an abomination on the face of good parenting, that a tiny helpless little person needs more than anything to know that whenever he or she needs something -whether it be food, drink, clean diaper, warm blanket, new toy, friendly face, or warm arms to hold them - his need will be taken care of. And yes, the desire to be held close and made to feel safe is a very real NEED.
...that babies and very young children belong at home with their mommies. That no daycare or early childhood center in the world can possibly equal the love, attention, and teaching that can happen at home with mama. That even being left with grandma or Aunt Sue every weekend has it's effects. Very young children need that special bond with one primary caregiver and ideally it should be their mama. Now...I know that we don't live in an ideal world and sometimes situations demand that children go into a daycare program. I know it has to happen sometimes. I know many women struggle with this, having to leave their littles and wanting nothing more than to be home with them instead of going to work. It happens, and your child isn't doomed because of it. It can work, but just because it "can work" doesn't mean it's best. Best is home with mama. I am very thankful to have been able to be home with three of my kids from birth on. I regret the time I lost with my oldest two while I was working. Little ones and mamas belong together.
...that young children should be given boundaries to keep them safe but otherwise allowed to roam and explore. Let them open things, look into things, take things out and put them back in. The world is new to them and when you tell them NO about everything you stifle their curiosity and their hunger for learning.
...that kids of all ages need to be outside as much as possible. That fresh air and dirt are good for body, mind, and soul. That little ones should be allowed to dig in the dirt, play in the mud, throw rocks, break sticks, splash in puddles. Let them get good and dirty and love every minute of it.
...that children should be allowed to do real things. Let them help with cleaning, cooking, making things, building. Encourage their interest when they're young and watch what happens. Just because they're small doesn't mean they aren't capable.
...that children should be brought up with traditions, meaningful and rich, family traditions, holiday traditions, special little moments that bring continuity to the long years of their lives and that root them firmly in the love of their family. Special meals, special outings, special customs of decorating the tree or visiting the pumpkin patch or going out for ice cream on the first day of summer.
...that children should be surrounded by people who treat them kindly even when they don't act so kindly themselves. A child acting out is generally a child with a need. I am NOT against spanking, but it has a very narrow time and place in which it is truly the best option. Most times there are far better ways to deal with a child's disobedience or bad attitude (and they work).
...that children deserve respect. They deserve to be allowed to speak, to have their questions answered, their thoughts listened to, their opinions respected. Older kids and teens deserve to have a huge part in planning things which will involve them and in having their input valued.
...that kids and teens should be allowed their emotions. It's OK to be mad, or sad, or happy. It's OK if you are having a down day and don't want to play and just want to be by yourself. It's OK if something has made you angry and you have to cry to let it all out. It's OK if something that other people think is silly makes you deliriously happy.
...that children deserve an apology. Being an adult does not make you automatically right all the time. People screw up. Parents screw up. Sometimes we do wrong by our children and they deserve parents who are humble enough to admit that and apologize.
...that children deserve a good education and to have a hand in that education. Homes should be filled with great books and art supplies and good music. Kids should have trips to museums and gardens and parks and science centers and libraries. They should have easy access always to new knowledge, thoughts and ideas.
...that the older they get, the less they act like they need parents, which is exactly the opposite of the truth, they need us now more than ever, to help guide them as they seek out their own path in life. Even if they are moody teenagers (although...I believe children raised in a loving and respectful home will nearly always turn out to be quite pleasant teenagers).
...that young people deserve to see a happy and healthy relationship between their parents. Parents as a united front in raising children is the best thing that could ever happen. Parents who support each other and love each other while loving and raising their kids show those kids how to act in their own adult lives someday.
...that every child should be allowed to get dirty, do messy projects, dream big, create, learn, love, cry, speak their mind, and feel safe in their own home and in the knowledge that their parents will always be there for them.
Am I perfect? Do I always abide by my own beliefs? Absolutely not. Sometimes I mess up, in the heat of the moment on an exhausting day when my nerves are shot, yes I do. I won't even pretend that I don't. But then I apologize. Or I resolve to keep on trying to be better. To love my children with all that is in me and to make sure they know it! Because that's what they need most. That's what I believe about children.