- Published on Sunday, 10 February 2013 16:53
By Shara Lawrence-Weiss
A few days ago I ran across an article titled, "Playtime: Affectionate, Less Controlling Mothers Have Strongest Relationships With Their Children." I thought back to my early parenting days and how different my style was, back then.
Friends used to come over to my house and call it Fort Knox. I had every safety lock, safety invention and safety creation under the sun. I had read every parenting book I could get my hands on and I was, by many standards, a Helicopter Mom.
I had to work hard to undo those tendencies and to allow my children to explore and learn through messy play. It wasn't easy because I'm a lover of all things clean. Much like Monica on Friends, I adore labels and tidy rooms and order. It makes me happy to see my house picked up, beds made, and everything put away right where it belongs.
When I first began reading the article on Science Daily, I thought, "Hey. I have a very close relationship with my son even though he was ordered around by me for the first few years of his life." Then I saw this portion of the post:
Even if mothers were very directive, if they were also warm, the negative effects of high directiveness lessened in every one of the ethnic groups we studied," Ispa said. "If mothers were negative or seemed critical of their kids, then the negative effects of directiveness increased."
I have always been highly affectionate with my kids and even during my days of "crazy bossy Monica mom" I was still highly affectionate. Even when I engaged in structured play instead of free play. Whew!
Two days ago I purchased some candy hearts for Valentine's Day. I thought, "Great! This will be a fun activity for my daughter (age six). I can have her read the hearts and make sentences from them!"
Bossy Monica mom...
When I got home I put the hearts on the table and said, "In a minute I'm going to do something fun with you." She replied, "I know what to do, don't worry."
I turned around and went to open my mouth to say, "Look - I had a fun idea so just wait, please!" I thought back to the Science Daily article and I SHUT MY MOUTH. I watched her go from there...
First, she dumped all of the hearts onto the table.
Next, she read them out loud, all on her own.
Next, she sorted them by color group.
Then she said, "I want to share some with my brother now." She pushed a pile aside in order to share them, so her brother didn't feel left out.
Her ideas were so much better than mine. And all I had to do...was NOTHING.