Why I am a mother hen and why this is not as bad as you may believe
Today’s topic is pretty close to my heart. This subject got me into trouble a few times now since I am a mom. People have been telling me, that I should let my children be more independent, teach them not to cling as much to us as they do, and take time out to be as a couple or simply to do what I “need to do” to relax in life and take care of myself too.
I do agree that there is an importance to take care of our relationship as a couple. To look after myself too, and even to not cling to my children, because it can hinder them to become what they ought to be.
However, there is a reason of almost everything we do. Thoughts we had about being a mother (hen), and decisions we make as a result of them.
To illustrate a bit what I am talking about, here are some things I am letting my kids do:
I do let my children have their experiences in eating…
… have fun with his dog friends
Play in the water (as soon as they know how to swim, without swim aid)
Climb a steep stairway with 12months of age
Do scary stuff they love to do
Go with them for tent holidays all by my own
Go on a roller coaster as soon they have the age to be allowed (here aged 5 and 6)
Go with them all the way up to 3000m, to look at a glacier.
We trust them in handling real tools (after having explained to them how they work and what not to do with them)
As you see, I am not that kind of mother hen.
But there is another kind of attitude we do have, seen by many western people as “mother hen” – and they tell me so)
We sleep in the same bed as our kids (not always that close, but such situations are common and every one loves it)
We delayed the kindergarten of our girl for one year, feeling that she needed to become more stable in her emotional maturity when we were confronted with her refusal to go
We always see that we have our family-time. Holidays, trips, or just being together, without people from the outside.
We don’t let our kids play with other kids if it results in them being rude with their own siblings.
Neither is being bored a reason to go out and play with other kids. (being bored is a perfect opportunity to get creative)
My kids didn’t go to playschool and we send them to a private school we have nearby – instead of a (not so bad at all) public school, having much more “work” and financial expenses.
We don’t give our babies away in order to go for an “important” event. If we can’t take them with us (like here on a business-dinner) only one of us goes.
This as long as they are under 1 year old – or until we feel that they are ready and willing to be taken care of by someone else. And this is even for our dates-nights.
I stayed the whole time at the hospital with my 3months old, when he got an infected bladder. Benny was taking a couple of days off until help was available to look after the other 3 kids.
We invest our needed rest into the kids, that they may come and be close to us, even when we’re tired.
Since the beginning of forming a family our lead-statement concerning the education of our children was:
Without relationship, there is no successful parenting.
We’ve are learning by doing what this really means
And we really got inspired by reading the book “Hold on to your Kids – why parents need to matter more than peers” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté.
We understood that the secret of parenting is not what I do as a parent, but rather who I am as a parent to a child. It’s about the compassionate wisdom we as parents can implement in a child.
When a child seeks contact and closeness with us, we become empowered as a nurturer, a comforter, a guide, a model, a teacher or a coach.
We firmly believe that only children well attached to their parents will be able to receive the unconditional love and acceptance.
Why? Because every child needs attachment and simultaneous with that comes orientation. Inside every child, there is a compass. We as parents are supposed to be their “north”, the place they orient themselves with, the place where we can transmit healthy attachment, values and reach out to them in any situation, finding an open heart and willingness to follow our lead.
For a child who is well attached to us, we are “home”. The place to hide, the place to be real, to expose its deepest desire, fears and wants. Such a child is open for our love and care. With a child well attached to us, a mutual relationship is possible and the openness to follow our lead is present.
Only then the child will come to us, share its heart and even its mistakes and failures.
That is our number one secret for a successful family as well as for successful education.
The above mentioned book talks about the human brain being made in a way that this attachment, this need for orientation is built up deep inside of us. Orientation voids or situations where we find nothing or no one to orient us with are absolutely intolerable to the human brain.
Even adults who are relatively self-orienting can feel a bit lost when not in contact with the person in their lives who functions as a working compass point.
If we adults feel that way, how much more will our children?
As parents we are the very best orientation point. When parents aren’t present, another adult like a teacher who acts like a parent can substitute.
Therefore as a logical result, if we don’t provide this orientation, this attachment to our children, they will turn to peers, whether singly or as a group, and they will become the child’s working point – and we are “replaced”.
We know that peers are not capable to give to our children what we are called to give them: The security to be loved for who they are and that in an unconditional way. Healthy orientation. The natural transmission of our values. Our live experience. The willingness to sacrifice ourselves that they can thrive. Emotional, physical or spiritual nurture. And even worse: the more peers and other people matter, the more children are devastated by the insensitivity of their peers and other people by failing to fit in, and by perceived rejection.
This is, in short version, the reason why I say that what the western world perceives sometimes as “mother hen”, as something bad is actually vital for our children.
And here again, this is not an article about parenting to be followed point by point. You don’t have to share bed with your kids, or banish any babysitter out of your home. You have your unique personality, your unique life situation and capacity, there is no better parent than you are for your child. The challenge of this article is this:
The relationship, the attachment you have with your children is vital for you to be able to implement your heart into your children in a natural way. It is a vital foundation for us to be this home base, this place of security, of orientation and love.
The insights of this article ar coming from the author (Jeanne from familythatmatters) and from the book chapter one and two mentioned above.
Hold on to your kids -why parents need to matter more than peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté. I can not enough recommend to read their whole book!