I read a conversation thread with interest. The question posed was one of parents taking children to a cafe (and their noise disturbing other patrons). The person who posed the question was not a parent, and although not antagonistic in regards to parents in general, was rather annoyed that the allocated time to work in the buzz of the cafe was not productive as anticipated. The conversation on this question ranged from those who suggested using a library instead, to those commenters who said, “Parents control your children!”
That’s interesting. There seems to be a general expectation out there, often by non-parents, that children should be “controlled”. Controlled to who’s expectation? What does “controlled” look like then?
Before I go any further, I’ll say here that I’m an aware parent and I manage different situations depending on different factors (including being respectful of other around me). I used the word manage, not control, because really, in life, there isn’t a lot you can truly control outside of your own actions. In the example of a cafe, if my child was distressed and none of my efforts to settle the child were successful, I would remove myself from the situation (mainly because that is what the child/myself needed at the time, but I would also be aware of others around me). I’ve done that many times. On the other hand, I take my kids to many, many places because it’s important to me to give my children a broad range of experiences, and I’m sure their natural boisterousness and curiosity might be annoying to some, and yet I’ll continue to do so.
Children are people. They aren’t there to be controlled. They are to be cherished. Guided. Loved. Allowed for. Taught. Respected.
This type of conversation is perhaps reflective of the growing lack of community in our society. I’m talking about a community that encapsulates the embracing of all stages of life in all their beauty. I see children in general as an important part of society, as is everyone. I think more than anything, it’s about extending kindness and valuing people, children included.
But I can’t force my views on society. I can’t make people change their mind set. I can’t control the person who wants parents to “control their children”. No. What I can do is raise the little people in my care with love, patience and respect; giving them a vast range of experiences within my power and the time (TIME) to develop and grow.
Recently, we went out to dinner as a family. My husband and I were weary (more than usual) this particular night. For reasons I won’t detail, it was all a bit of a disaster, and my husband and I felt so discouraged. I’ll mentioned here that in these situations, my husband and I don’t put blame on the children (talk about learning that here), but rather on our leadership (management), and yet also giving everyone (including ourselves) the grace to make mistakes and learn. We had a family meeting to discuss it together, and not long after this event, we had another opportunity to go out as a family to a function, and it was beyond lovely, and everyone in our family felt proud of how our team performed. I may of been judged the first time, and commended the second time, and yet I’m the same parent in both instances.
What I’ve come to accept as a parent is that I will be judged (I talk about that here). And some (even a lot of) people will probably be annoyed along the way. However, I’ve learned the importance of NOT parenting how people want me to as a parent. Whether that is “controlling the children” the way someone thinks I should or not going out somewhere someone deems not to be family friendly enough. Kids, adults, family-life: all need time to develop and grow. Be confident in raising children with heart, knowing that controlling “good kids” isn’t the goal, but rather fostering and coaching small people with compassion and patience as they become the beautiful ones they are.
A little list for myself:
It’s a slow process.
Roots need to be deep and founded.
This takes time.
Mistakes need to be embraced for all their potential, not feared.
Be motivated by compassion. Not control.
Be confident without arrogance.
Be patient with yourself as you learn patience as a parent.
Don’t rush things that need time to grow.