I have read your book, and some articles since my son was born (2.5yo) and found it an inspiration, guide and food for deep thought, as well as a road to The Work – which has had a big impact – thank you so very much. I have many questions, but the main one at present is that my partner feels he has to compensate for me being ‘nice to our son’, playing lots with him or letting our son decide where to walk, etc. I try to explain where I am coming from and that we have a choice about how we act and behave and love our children but I am not good with words/explanations – particularly spoken. It is explainable but it also just FEELS good. His main concern is that giving such freedom will result in a tyrant/serious criminal (our DS also has boundaries as well of course). But does freedom create tyrants in the long run, or just people who know their own mind? Hope this makes sense and is a relevant query.
Growing up free does not lead to a tyrannical child or adult. Freedom, when authentic and respectful, creates people who grant that same freedom to others. Being content, they pass on kindness. Statistically (and it makes sense) all criminals come from controlled childhoods, not from freedom. They are in pain, angry, looking for autonomy and power to undo their childhood sense of helplessness. Therefore, freedom leads to caring self-generating people.
The question, however, is “what is freedom?” And, does your parenting way provide freedom, license, or autonomy. Explore your ideas of freedom. Does it mean the child must get whatever he wants? Does it mean he should always be happy? Never cry? Doest his upset mean something about you (that you are not a good mother)? Or, is he being content and autonomous even if not always getting his way?
A child can be autonomous yet able to accept reality. We are not free to do whatever we want. But, we can be autonomous in responding to reality with its opportunities and limitations. You can protect and nurture your child’s autonomy even when he is not always free to do as he wishes and things don’t go his way. You can provide a life that flows with his direction yet includes times that he is not the center or the director of this flow.
Without knowing you, your child and your husband, I cannot know why your husband is concerned. If you are not sure, I highly recommend that you set up a phone session with me to sort this out, as this is a very crucial element in parenting (http://naomialdort.com/guidance.html).
As for your husband; keep in mind that fathers are not “mothers in training.” Do The Work on “My husband should understand my way.” How do you react when you believe this thought; feeling separated, stressed, confused? How would you be without this thought? Can you find peace in loving the way he is? Your child has two different parents, can you see the benefits? Find three reasons why he shouldn’t endorse your way. Then explore the actual idea he presents and find three ways that he may be right.
Your job is not to explain to your husband how to be like you but to respond to the way he is. In your current response to him, you are modeling struggle. Become free of your need to have him understand your way and you will be the teacher of freedom. Obviously you can give your husband my book to read, or one of my CDs to listen to. Only don’t expect him to read, listen, or change. It is your job to respond to the way he is, not to be dependent on changing him. Your inner peace is the best teacher for your son.
Warmly, Naomi Aldort www.AuthenticParent.com