My Children Have Taken Over

I’m lost and I am stuck. My children do whatever they want to do. I don’t want to fight but it feels like I am just letting them do what they want to avoid conflict. One is three and one is a year and a half. I feel used. They had a foot high chocolate santa for breakfast today. My daughter got it, opened it, and ate it without even checking in with me. If I work on the computer she takes it over. She restarts it in middle of what I am doing, types over me, takes the mouse. I feel railroaded. Am I expecting too much for their ages? Miriam

Dear Parent,

It is wonderful for children to have the freedom to direct their own lives. However, like adults, their autonomy does not mean having power over others. 

Guiding does not have to create conflict. On the contrary, as you can see, absence of guidance creates inner conflict and inauthenticity. Children need parents. They are not ready to run their own lives with awareness of the needs of others. Leading the way does not have to be controlling. Instead, leading means that you make the conditions such that the children can be free without harming themselves and others, and, that you let them know how things work.

For example, if you bring a treat that has to be divided, put it out of reach and offer it when you can be present and in charge. Likewise, if you need to do computer work, do it at a time that someone can care for your children and not while they need you. 

Being in charge is not domination; it is care of meeting needs and removing obstacles.

If you do offer a treat, it is better not to buy one piece of chocolate that is hard to divide, but a bag of small identical items (ideally home made with whole and healthy ingredients.) Make the environment less challenging by removing anything that is not safe or and nurturing of your children’s health and development. 

Likewise, at these young ages, children cannot sit and look at you while you sit at the computer. They may be able to play for a short while if you provide something engaging, but if they need you, it is best to turn off the computer and be with them. If you don’t try to accomplish something in the first place, they will have nothing to “railroad” over. Child care and computer don’t usually go together. 

Children can do things side by side with you in the kitchen or the garden where there is action and they can be part of it. The computer is motionless and there is only one, so it is difficult to meet their needs. Even if they participate with you, they need guidance on how things are safe and productive for themselves and for others.

But being with young children alone for hours can be challenging. Planning what works may therefore include getting a teen mother-helper, so you can have a break, or asking your partner to give you a break every evening and a few hours on the weekend so you can take care of your needs. 

Freedom does not mean license. None of us get to do whatever we want all the time.

Create a life that works for everyone (as much as possible) and let your children know what is available for them and what is not, or how and when. They thrive on such clarity. You may want to watch my video: You are the Leader: http://authenticparent.com/lectures.html

Warmly,  Naomi Alodrt   www.AuthenticParent.com

 

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