Anxiety and Liberal Parenting – The Positive Aspects

Since this is my third blog post, equivalent to a third date in my mind, perhaps a more in-depth explanation of my blog-writing motives can be explored.

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I have developed a discreet (or not so) theme in my first two posts – control. I want to take back control. I am a bit of a control freak.

It explains my fear of flying. I hate the sensation of not being in control, and there are very few people I would trust to be in control, especially where my child is involved. Hence my distrust of schools. It’s funny, though, that I really can’t control my child! She’s too much like me, too stubborn and strong willed! And I wouldn’t change it for the world…most of the time…

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There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take control of your own life. Some people function well under the control of others. I assume a lot of people barely think about it otherwise we’d have a revolution on our hands. Up until I had my daughter I was able to deal, to some extent, with being told what to do and where to be much more easily, but it’s different now that I’m responsible for her as well.

Don’t be fooled into thinking I’m an overly picky  and controlling mother. If anything, I’m quite the opposite, and my daughter gets away with murder with me! But since she is my daughter, I will only allow her to be brought up the way I (and my partner, when I’m feeling pleasant…) think is right.

It really bothers me when people say what ‘normal’ child development looks like. My child is extremely well-developed in most ways but she still doesn’t like to sleep in her own bed, loves a bottle of milk and has a dummy. Yes, we would prefer her not to have a dummy but her speech is better than a lot of 10 year-olds and her teeth are perfect so I personally don’t see the harm in it.

As the title suggests, both my daughter and I have problems with anxiety. This is very likely to be the reason we both like to be so much in control and it has contributed massively to my recent choices.

Because of my own anxiety, I am able to see the causes and symptoms of my daughter’s, and I know that it is something we can all work through together, as long as she has me to kick against. As a parent I work by instinct more so than anything else, and my anxious mind feeds my instinct. It doesn’t control it – I have dealt with these feelings for so long now that I have learned how to rationalise things in my mind and balance them out to a great extent. I am happy to take advice from others with regards to parenting, for example, but if my gut says I don’t like it then that’s that, I don’t like it.

A good example is the ‘cry-it-out’ method that so many people are so enthused about. I hate it, and I will NOT practice it. I will not go against every instinct in my body and leave a young child to cry and cry and cry until they fall asleep exhausted. Doesn’t the whole idea of ‘sleep training‘ seem ridiculous to anyone else? Do you see any other mammals putting their young children 20 feet away from them and ignoring them when they are in distress?

So I think I am a liberal parent. This does not mean that my child is in charge and I let her do what she wants without caring. That is absolutely not what I mean. There is a lot of bad press about this but it clearly doesn’t mean to me what it must mean to a lot of other people.

What I mean is that I let my child grow and learn as naturally as possible, giving her opportunities to learn and make her own decisions about things based on what she has learned. It means that if she wants to dress in a princess costume with a fleecey pyjama top and a tutu, she can. It’s all within reason, I obviously wouldn’t let her go to school like that.

It also means that despite what society likes to tell me, if my daughter is scared at night and doesn’t want to be in her bed alone, she can sleep in our bed, or I will sleep in hers. It means that whatever question she asks me I will do my best to answer her honestly.

It means that, although I would like to think I have things planned out, her personality and her talents may not be what we expect. We will give her every opportunity to find out who she is and what her talents are, and we will encourage her in whatever she chooses to do in life. Again, all within reason, I’m not going to encourage prostitution and the like!

I never expected to have such an intelligent, strong-willed, imaginative, hyper-active child. She’s got a crazy temper and she really knows what she wants.

But in the last 3 and a half years I have learned the following:

  1. If your child won’t eat, you’ll give them what they want just to see them eat something.
  2. When your child refuses to sleep and you can no longer keep your eyes open, putting ‘Tangled’ on TV on a loop is extremely helpful.
  3. Sometimes discipline is hard when you love someone so much you’ll let them wipe their nose on your trousers.
  4. When you love your child to the point of madness, you spoil them sometimes. It happens, and it’s ok.
  5. Your plans are irrelevant.

We must have done something right, though, because although my child can throw the tantrum from hell, hates sleep and will argue her point until you are all blue in the face, we have so far brought up a child who,

  1. Won’t take any crap from anyone.
  2. Absorbs information like a super-sponge.
  3. Is immensely loving and has an amazing sense of empathy, especially for  a three year old!
  4. Her imagination has imbued her with enviable confidence, despite underlying anxiety 0- her super powers, her magic, and her guardian angel combined mean she can do and be whoever and whatever she wants.
  5. Can win any argument.

Going back to the issue of control, I cannot truly ‘control’ my child and I wouldn’t want to. But I can’t help wanting to control the things around my child so that she can continue to thrive. I want to be absolutely sure that everything around her provides the best possible environment for her to carry on on this path towards awesomeness.

 

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