Monday, August 23, 2010

why radical parenting didn't work for me

Radical parent has not worked for me. However, to clarify I do not necessarily mean the gender aspect of it or letting my kid explain how she feels. Telling my child that just because she's a girl doesn't mean she can't play with trucks and boys can play with dolls. Teaching her about transgender people and things as such have been a good thing. Not to mention race, class, disabilities, and so on.

But the radical parenting in which I treat my child as an "equal" or do horizontal parenting, letting my child have a say in everything, or letting her do whatever she chooses. These things have lead to my years of parenting =ing hell.

This does not work.


Because my child is almost 9 years old and I am 28 years old. She does not developmentally, have the same brain as me. She has not been in the world as long as me. This is not ageist. This is reality. I cannot expect her to make sane decisions, honestly. I cannot expect her to do things without being told what they are, what to do, or even the consequences of her own actions. She needs to learn these things.

For too long I allowed her to have a save in things. Honestly, I was doing everything opposite of my mom and step-dad who were very authoritative and strict. What I did was not good enough either. I needed to find a middle ground because radical parenting was not working for me.

The reality is I am her parent and she is my child. This is not oppressive. This is reality. I am responsible for her and how she grows as a person. I can be supportive and let her enjoy the things she does, but I can also teach her about respecting others, respecting their boundaries, setting her own boundaries, and not being an all around mean person. These things I teach her make her into a person. She is not born to know what boundaries and respectful behavior is - I, as her parent, have to teach her.

This also means telling her what to do from time to time. For too long, I asked her to do things or gave her a choice in EVERYTHING. Reasonably, I let her have choices from time to time. But I also can guide her and give her advice and support. When I let her have a choice with everything, she started controlling what was going on with everything. Even when I was giving away extra bicycles we have - she freaked out, asking why I had not discussed it with her (honestly I do not have to) or when I mentioned getting a new car, she did not want me to do and needed to talk to her. Letting her have a choice in all aspects of our lives was leading to extreme frustration and a lot of stress for me (and for her I'm sure).

A lot of this lead to a power struggle between her and I. As a parent, I am in charge and I can be in charge without being oppressive. As a child, she does have to follow guidelines I have to set up because she was not born with life skills or behaviors that helped her grow. My daughter wanted to constantly be in charge of what was going on and started developing a very entitled attitude toward everything. She also was beginning to be disrespectful to me and others, especially when we would tell her no. She expected to negotiate with everything.

Now, I let go of letting her have choices in everything. Sometimes I have to tell her what to do. For chores on the weekend, I tell her she has to do them on the weekend, but she can decide what day. She used to come out all the time during bedtime for water, bathroom, extra hugs, etc. I used to give in because I did not want to tell her what to do but now I say "no" and bring her back to her room. Now she rarely comes out of her room.

Since I started making choices with my parenting, things have become so much smoother and I feel less like wanting to curl up in a ball under a rock or jumping off the roof. Bedtime has been less hectic and now she listens. I give her time limits, as well. I have also been more consistent and have set more routines. Sometimes I have to tell her no so she doesn't hurt herself or do something unhealthy. Telling my child no also prepares her for reality. She is not going to live in a world in which she can choose everything for herself, have choices with everything, and/or negotiate.

In the end, I feel way less stressed out and feel far more sane. I feel I can be around my child more because it is not a constant power struggle. She is realizing I am in charge and responsible for her and she can also focus on being a kid. She's also learned to trust me more and less focused on "making decisions" and more focused on again, being a kid. She, as a 9-year old (almost) is not capable of making choices the same way I am.

With all this, I can still listen to her and be supportive of her. She is allowed to voice her emotions and feelings and tell me when she is mad or happy. She can still ask me questions and develop her own interests.

I can be an authoritarian parent (not authoritatve) and allow her her own autonomy, choices, and emotions but at the same time I can still tell her what to do, give her reasonable boundaries, and trust her. This leads to better choices as she gets older and allows both of us sanity.

1 comment:

  1. Letting the kid do anything they wanted never was "Radical parenting". That is an irresponsible ideology you are talking about that people have thought radicalism was about since the 50's.

    Even anarchists know that raising a child is different from dealing with adults. The best you can do is explain everything to your child, and encourage their imagination and sense of wonder.. do not extinguish it, and tell them they can do whatever they want when they grow up... and give them unconditional love, because now is the time that love matters.. it wont matter at all after age 18 if you never gave it to them when they needed it.