Mandi's storyI am far from the perfect mum. I am a single parent, so all responsibilty for my child is on my shoulders - which sometimes feels like quite a weight! I have always set firm expectations and been rigid in keeping boundaries. Some people have commented that maybe I have been too unwaivering with this. All we can do is our best and be true to ourselves! Occasionally I am disappointed with myself and totally lose my patience, talking to my child in a manner that I'd hate to be spoken to myself. I am saying these things, to show that we are all human and maybe sometimes fail in our communication techniques.
We all question ourselves as parents, especially as new parents. The many books available on the market, all offering such different strategies to help bring up a happy, well-behaved child can be totally baffling to a new parent. My little girl is now 4.5 years old and I am proud and lucky to be her mum. Everyone that has contact with her, tells me that she is such a happy, humorous, contented, kind/caring child. They don't see the rages that she has and how I interact with her during them...but I will come onto that in a bit.
My little girl asked me today, why she never had a dummy and why she never sucked her thumb. Some parents and staff at her school ask me how she is always such a delight. The answer to both these (I believe) is that I have always let her cry and supported her with her crying. I wore my daughter against me for the first few weeks of her life (whilst I did everything from mowing the grass to shopping!). I believe that this created a strong bond and provided her with continual reassurance.
A friend sent me the Aware Parenting book, and I have to say that when I first read the ideas about letting a child cry and not rocking them, stroking their backs, providing a dummy etc....I was quite unsure about it all. The more I read and considered everything, the more I wanted to give this method a go. So, from birth, if I knew my beautiful baby was fed, changed, winded, warm enough etc, and was still crying, I knew that it was because she needed to cry. She needed to release all the stresses of being in the bright and loud world, with too many stimulations for a newborn. I would sit quietly and just hold her, talking to her gently until her tense body relaxed, the tears eased up and she fell into a fantastic sleep.
I have continued to use this method to help my daughter release tension and stress. I have not had the support of family or ex-husband in this, despite them seeing what a happy child I have. Now she is 4.5years old...people seem to think that a whinging, crying, raging, screaming child should be told to 'stop being so silly' and feel uncomfortable with letting her scream and rage. I can identify all the signs that she needs to cry...whinging about minor issues, crying at the drop of a hat, getting over-boisterous. I tend to wait until she reaches her 'break point', which is usually shouting at me or crying and raging and then move in to assist her in releasing the upset. As soon as she got much bigger I tended to sit on the sofa and hold her, sometimes having to stop her from kicking. She may shout at me during these sessions that she wants me to get off her, let her go etc but I remain calm and reassuring; all the time I tell her that I am here to help her, that I love her, that it is OK to let it all out. I also remind her that every time she has such huge cries and rages, she feels so much better (she tells me after them that she feels better and has occasionally actually told me that she needs to have a big cry).
I'd like to end with a question...have there been times that you can feel stress building up (maybe work overload, relationship problems, money worries, having to take in too much new information)? At times I have felt close to tears for such reasons, but as an adult, with a different upbringing, I have learnt to control and subdue my response to release stress (which is naturally to have a good cry). Children also experience stresses...different to those of an adult, but still they have them. My opinion is that they should be helped to release them (making a calmer person in the long run) rather than being stopped from releasing them.