As a teacher, I was expected to have an articulated philosophy of teaching and beliefs about children and how they learn and develop, including a document that could be submitted to a supervisor or potential employer. I needed to be prepared to discuss my manifesto with colleagues and parents alike at any given time.
Today I would like to share my parenting philosophy including my beliefs of what children need and what my role as a parent should entail. The words below reflect my personal perspective based on experiences and education about child development and parenting, recognizing that future learning and experiences may lead to new insights that might change my views.
What I Believe:
I believe that children are a treasure entrusted to families and my main responsibility as a parent is to love and nurture each of my children to the best of my ability; to keep them safe, healthy and strong and to provide space and time for them to grow and develop while enjoying and appreciating each stage of development for what it is.
My role as a mother is defined in terms of my relationship with my child. It is my job to cultivate that relationship from the very start. A healthy and strong relationship consists of the responsive back and forth communication of becoming familiar with my child’s moods and cues by listening, observing and knowing as well as speaking.
I believe that children need predictable routines in order to thrive. Routines provide structure and stability and help children feel safe and secure. It is my job as a parent to construct and maintain routines that provide the appropriate amount of rest, play and exploration, stimulation, and interaction with others.
I believe that children need consistent boundaries and dependable results. As a parent I should be both consistent and dependable while maintaining flexibility within given situations. My actions as well as my words serve as a constant model for my children to observe and learn from, and although I am bound to make mistakes, my goal is to maintain consistency.
I believe that children need the time and space to play and explore and to entertain themselves. My job is to provide space, time and materials as well as general guidelines for appropriate use and clean up of materials.
I believe that all children need to be entrusted with age appropriate choices in order to develop self regulation, autonomy and independence.
I believe that children can and should learn to take on age appropriate responsibility within the framework that I need to provide as a parent.
I believe that I should model the habits and behaviors I expect to see in my children.
I believe that the consequences for behavioral mistakes should be closely matched to natural consequence and viewed as an opportunity for learning.
I believe children deserve respect and need to be given reasonable explanations for behavioral expectations.
I believe that children need to eat healthy, natural food and nutritionally balanced meals.
I believe that children need consistent and long amounts of sleep. I am the gatekeeper of their sleeping hours and that time needs to be carefully guarded and maintained.
I believe that children should have the opportunity to move their bodies every day. My job as a parent is to provide opportunities for daily large and fine motor practice.
I believe that children are delightful companions and conversational partners, but it is not their job to fill my needs for friendship.
I believe that my role as a parent to guide, teach and keep my children safe is more important than my need for them to like me in the moment.
I believe that children need to be explicitly taught to identify emotions and to know that having both positive and negative emotions is a normal human experience.
I know I will make mistakes and lose my temper from time to time. I believe my children deserve an apology from me when I mess up and I will own up to my own mistakes.
I believe that timeouts are not necessarily a great teaching tool, but are often a good way to take a deep breath and regain control of one’s emotions. Sometimes parents need timeouts as much as (if not more than) children.
I believe that children need positive feedback and affection every day. I need to be a primary source of both.
I believe that childhood should be enjoyed for what it is. Each stage is it’s own delight and should not be viewed as preparation for the next.
I believe that we are ALL STILL LEARNING and that everything is in constant fluidity. Just when I think I have a handle on things, everything will change.