challenging the ‘be a good girl’ notion

 

When she is  told to be a ‘good girl’, it is assuming that she can also be ‘bad’.   What exactly ‘Bad’ entails is completely in the eye of the beholder. We see ‘bad’ in all sorts of experiences in our daily lives. Children hear us relaying things we have read about, or seen or are listening to our interpretations of events that are all seemingly ‘bad’, and generally its pretty ‘bad’  if we are all talking about it. So why is it, that children are so often told to ‘be good’ by the people who care about them, implying that they must be capable of being ‘bad’, otherwise what is the point for mentioning it at all.  It is patronising to children that we so easily hold them to such unwarranted judgments.  It is pretending to be loving and kind in deliverance but really its just condescending superiority. Adults would never say this to each other, it wouldn’t be accepted by any means, and it’s not necessary for children either. Our interactions with children have become thoughtless, just repetitive habitual words, that we think have no real meaning or impact. Except they do.  I don’t tell my children to ‘be good’, but they have heard this enough already in their interactions with others  to know that this wins praise. Children are intelligent. My daughter will intentionally do things for the praise. She does ask ‘am i a good girl?’ after completing something, not often, but it happens, and it’s hard one to over come once the mindset has already been established. The truth is, there is no good or bad in children. They are just children learning to maneuver their way through their experiences and emotions. Most of the time my children are outwardly honest in their deliverance of their feelings and that can raise some awkwardness in the moment, usually because honesty is not what the recipient is expecting to hear. Their opinions haven’t been filtered or moulded to fit some false sociably acceptable standard. Their opinions are respected and they are learning that they are valued for them even in their indifference. How we can help others to understand this better, I’m still trying to work this out. My children are not obedient, because I don’t expect they should be.

What do we trade when we prioritise obedience over our children’s needs, mistakes or messy emotions? -Raised Good, parenting by nature

This doesn’t mean that they are ‘bad’. They simply have choices, and most of the time they make the ‘right’ ones for themselves. They are learning that certain choices they make wont bring them their desired outcomes, eventually they’ll make a different choice. It requires more patients and more compassion and understanding. It requires that we be present in the moment with our children.  Admittedly, it’s is definitely easier to take control over their lives and autonomy. It is definitely easier to play the role of the boss and dictate their days to them. Telling them when to eat, sleep, bathe, work, play, talk, listen or  who to be nice to, etc…Its definitely easier to tell them what to do rather than ask them if it is what they are wanting.

My children are more often than not outspoken, meaning they don’t think to hold their thoughts back on any situation, especially ones they themselves are directly impacted by. They are defiantly clear about what it is they are wanting and what it is they do not. They are unafraid to use their voices, and they don’t easily abide towards domination, manipulation or any other techniques that degrades or undermines their  usually valued opinions.  They wont simply hand out respect if it’s not warranted. And this can be somewhat unsettling, if you’re not expecting it, especially when it is coming from a five-year old. Are they ‘Bad’ children, No. Should they do what they are told to do, simply because someone tells them to? I don’t think so. Understandably, this is a tough notion to consider. But i would prefer that my children risk politeness for honesty and remain true to their feelings, than to deny themselves that right, in fear of being socially unaccepted by the opinions of others.   There are many ways we could be interacting with children that doesn’t entail making them feel inferior or imply that they are incapable of making good and safe decisions for themselves.

“The reality that adults have more power than children, however, does not mean that it is appropriate or necessary for us to exercise control over them. Rather, it means that we have an obligation to consciously choose how to use our power. We can choose to use our greater power to control children and coerce them to do what we want. We can choose to do nothing with our power. But we can also choose to use our power to support, assist, and facilitate the growth and learning of children in ways that affirm their personal power, dignity, and humanity.” -Teresa Graham Brett

We could be making ourselves clearer to children about what we are desiring, explain ourselves better without the authoritarian overtones. We could be offering them a range of possible outcomes to consider, before making decisions for them.  And we could allow ourselves to think about it a little more deeply and question our own concerns with needing a certain outcomes.  Possibly, we should be asking ourselves more often,  does it really matter?  We could stop opting for the quick, go to, fix  ‘do what i am asking of you and do it now.’  We could opt out of needing to power struggle with children.

My children are strong and independent, this strategy never works on them and i would never wish it to.  They are learning that people aren’t always sincere with their words and in their actions.  It must be incredibly confusing for children, when their well-being is so conditioned to only having particular outcomes and behaviours, deemed to be acceptable. It still bewilders me, that children are so often condemned for their natural feelings and emotions, it is asking children to deny feeling parts of themselves, simply because they may be causing undesirable attention.

We know that the way we are moving is not the norm, we know that its unconventional. The easier path would be to compel ourselves, despite our instinctual knowing and follow the less confrontational path. We could accept the ‘normalised’ and ‘expected’ way to raise children, without ever questioning it, even if it doesn’t feel right. But thankfully, that’s not our journey.  I’m strongly in favour for questioning what has gone before us and i’m thankful that i’m raising children that will without a doubt question everything that comes before them, before taking it on as their truth at face value.

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women standing for women

It is my daughters final year of senior education.  To say I’m incredibly proud of her would be an understatement, but it’s never been her position to prove anything to me. She is already all-encompassing of everything she has ever needed to be. Her final year has been a heavy weight to endure. It has left me as a parent, quite disillusioned and a somewhat perplexed as to why we are deeming it necessary to place such astronomical amounts of pressure upon these young adults shoulders.  Even the most well-balanced adult would have difficulty sustaining the weight of such pressures. Nevertheless she has held her own, in a system that holds very little room for flexibility and individual sentiments. She knows that she has given it her all, and most of all she knows she did it for herself. And that is all that is ever really necessary.  For her final media piece she produced a short film focusing on concerning issues still facing women today on a global scale. She chose to use her voice, she chose to be brave and innately powerful in her message. Whats important is she is willing. Willing to be seen, be heard, and is already comfortable in the knowing that what she has to say matters. We can spend our entire lives coming to this realisation,  the realisation of our own worth and how much of a role it plays in everything we choose to undertake. If this is the only message that our children take with them as they embark on their journeys, then as parents we will have done enough.

coming full circle

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There’s always a time that comes when raising children that it becomes necessary to step to the side. We can only guide and set the pace for so long, then they begin to stretch themselves in and out of the comfortable and familiar places to see whats out there, what else is on offer. They begin this process of sifting and sorting through life’s offerings usually at a time when we believe they are most vulnerable. We are wanting to keep them close by, keep them securely tucked under our wings, keep them safe from all we know is out there. But the truth is, it’s necessary that they begin to know this for themselves. It’s necessary that we listen to what it is they are wanting and needing to do, at what ever age it presents itself, however hard at times it may be to hear. Our readiness as parents may not always line up with theirs.  We must be able to step to the side, even if the words are hard to hear, even if we already know what the probability of the outcome will be.  Even if we believe that their choice is not going to serve them well, it remains to be their choice.  I have been learning to stand to the side of my children for some time now. Their choices are hard ones to hold at times, and it has become necessary to know when to keep quite and allow the sifting and sorting of their preferences to be that of their own. My children have been learning what works for them and what doesn’t from very young ages. At times its felt as though some of the lessons have been too hard, that they have been too young to be carrying such weights. Weights, that most of the time they have chosen for themselves. It’s not easy to stand to the side, in the deepest of love, and wait, wait to see if they will come back full circle. I’ve noticed, that most of the time they usually do, on most things. They begin somewhere with an idea of themselves and they want to see how it fits out there in the world. Then they play, explore, dream, fly and fall. And eventually, usually always they’ll end up somewhere where they first began. This is the beginning of their lives moving in circles, eventually everything always brings them home, back to themselves.

my path of least resistance

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I’ve decided to stay with myself for at least 30 days. Much like inviting an old lost friend over to  spend some necessary time with. I’m getting to know the me that is within the me.  I’m wanting this to be a beginning of the commitment to myself. This is my gift to myself. This is how i will begin the practice of moving with intent, intentionally moving with purpose.  I am keeping myself in the moment, from moment to moment what ever that entails.  I’m asking all the questions that one asks when arriving at this place in their life. And I’m listening whilst deeply awaiting the answers. This is how the clarity is surfacing, things that seemed important, are no longer. The ideas that i have been moving my whole life from are changing, I’m realising that they have never been my ideas.  I’ve been following a way, a human blueprint for’ this is how things are done way’.  And this simply does not fit with me anymore or possibly i am no longer wanting to be a willing participant.  There is a larger picture, a greater more expansive idea of ourselves, if we are brave enough to jump and i’m jumping in. I am moving from within, from the inside out. It will be my creative force that will bring forth my ideas that will define my path now, not a story generated so long ago that it no longer makes sense in the world of today.  Somewhere along the road we stopped listening to ourselves, and we started following, following all those who went before us. We did this in trust, that they knew better and knew where they were going and that it would lead us too, where we believed we needed to be. I’m not so sure that’s how we should be moving now, and I am sure that it’s not those ideas and deep-seated beliefs that I’m going to insist my children learn from and follow. I know that they already know who they are, it is not my job or concern to cloud their views with personal or world fears.  Their stories are that of their own and i trust they know what is best for themselves. My children have the freedom to be. I am not insisting that they part take in the situations to which conformity is enforced upon them if it is not what they are wanting, even in their young ages this can be clear. I’m giving them the space to feel their way rather than filling them up.  They will be free to choose and lead their own ways. They are my greatest teachers. It is in all their innate determination and unwillingness to conform to the old stories and beliefs that keeps me asking the unorthodox questions that need to be asked now more than ever before. It is them who have come forth and bought me to where i am standing now, who are leading me towards higher grounds, and i am willingly letting them lead the way, all the way.

 

 

thoughts on mothering

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I have been mothering for most of my adult life, naturally and instinctually. And it is only now that i am older and where outside opinions only matter when i decide that they do, that i can say it’s the part that i like and respect the most about myself.  It has taken some time getting to this place of contentment. Not because i didn’t feel the worthiness of my chosen path or understand the magnitude of just how important my role is, but more, its taken this long to feel secure enough in saying it is absolutely enough for me. There has been pressure over the years, to be more, do more than only be a mother. Whether this derives from outside perceptions or from within, my guess is, it’s most likely a little of both. I have defiantly had my fair share of condescending queries about ‘what it is i do,other than mother. And for a short time, i did question if it truly was enough. Was i able to say i have no regrets of any unfulfilled ideas i had for myself?   Was there something else i needed to do to prove my worthiness and sense of value to the world, and possibly myself before i could say, Mothering is enough. Looking back now, the only times i have held any doubts in my life’s choices, has always been during times of great despondency, when doubt has pervaded all senses. Yet in times when i have remained true to myself, there has been no doubt, no regret, no other idea that could ever be more important than the path i am on.  Now, the dread of such inquiries wouldn’t bother me at all, more rather they would be welcomed. What ever doubts i held in my earlier years of parenting being a sufficient enough path to take, have stayed there.  I undeniably know now that it absolutely is enough. Enough for me.

 

words for daughters on their birthdays

 

Dear Daughters, I have offered you all that I know that is to be true.   You have, my insight, though i understand you will gather your own as you move yourselves out into the world.   You have my wisdom, yet i know you will inevitably draw on your own innate wisdom as you are called to do so. I have not sheltered you from life’s hurts and devastations as you too, will not be spared such conditions.   I will not clench onto you, or hold you back, or keep you from going forth towards life’s beckoning, where ever that may lead you to be.  You have my truth, of all i believe truly matters in this life and enough understanding to now to go forth and decide for yourselves. You have the depth of my understanding on deciphering what and what not to allow to come forth into your lives, and enough Bodhi to decide for yourselves, Now.  In your lives you have witnessed me fall, and find enough strength to regather and find my way back over and over. Now, when you fall you will instinctively know that you will rise again and again, with a strength that you can only ever come to realise this way. You have not been sheltered or spared from life’s chaos, understanding deeply now that everything is always as it is meant to be and everything always goes around in circles.  You are learning to draw to yourselves youR own ideas and gather the pictures for your lives now;  the stories you will tell with the understanding that everything is temporary and if you change your mind, you can always choose again.   I have endeavored to follow my own heart, without settling into anything that doesn’t serve the highest part of myself,  to not allow the conditions and ideas of the world to hinder my journey, i have done this with you dear daughters, securely tucked under my wing, so that may you always know that you are never limited to be someplace or someone who you truly are not. I know that there have been times when i have failed you, times when i have let you down or misjudged some fragment in your lives, as it is the human experience that mistakes will be made, but for this my heart is sorry. It is here we have learnt, what forgiveness really means. When you fly daughters, go where your heart calls, be unafraid to be all of who you truly are and never let anyone tell you different, use your voice as you have been blessed in this life to speak up, use it to really make a difference whether it is to one person or a country, and know that You are always divinely equipped to do this, And know that whenever life moves you in such a way that you need to fly home, just fly home.

Happy Birthday Girls.

 

thoughts for mothers

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Children are savants when it comes to feeling where we are as mothers. Not just on any particular day, but on the whole on where we are standing within ourselves in our lives. When i look back now, it is clear that the times i was a little lost within who i was or where i was standing, were also the times when my children also struggled within themselves the most. These times on the surface would have seemed to the outsider to be no different, children were well taken care of, there was always love, nourishment, warmth and routine, our faces friendly and smiling. I knew well how to play happy. On the inside though, i was always wondering if i was truly standing where i was supposed to be. I was unsettled, feeling lost in my created world, like something other was always calling me forward. There was a search going on inside, i never really understood or even realised this at the time. Life was not allowing me to really settle anywhere that was not serving my highest self, not even for the sake of the children. The uneasy, unsettledness that was a continuous flow for quite some time within me, was i am certain now, mirrored back through my children in their movements and sense of being. I realise like a ballad, they are fine-tuned to our frequency, and that the music we are playing at any given time is going to be reflected in our children movements no matter how young they are. At times,  i have been naive to think that they would be oblivious to the rhythms i was flowing to. That as so long as they were bathed, well fed and taken care of on the outside, that all the rest of what i was feeling would not be effecting them. I was so very wrong. I have come to a place of understanding now of how much it matters. That as mothers we don’t deny ourselves our lives or  our truths. The ways in which we strive for ourselves and our worth are the ways in which we teach our children to strive for themselves, to strive for their own worth. My young children are still flowing to my rhythms, my older ones are recognising their own and transitioning from mine towards that of their own. Right now i am living truthfully, not just on a surface level but deeply within the layers of my being. Perhaps my inability to settle for anything that isn’t a true reflection of who i am or my simple unwillingness to sacrifice myself wholly, is what has now brought me to this place of divine contentment. I know that i have arrived within a place of my own being where i will never again ask permission from anyone to be who i instinctively am. I am flowing to a rhythm of truth, following towards my own wild heart. This is having a beautiful ripple-stone effect on the children’s sense of being. They too are content, happy within themselves and for now, riding on the frequency of my authentically living.