A question that comes up a lot in unschooling / freedom minded circles is: Would you let your child cut their own hair? What about washing or brushing it? If it is their body, doesn’t that mean that it is their choice? What if they don’t want their hair cut? Well I won’t say our family tends towards absolute and total freedom for children, or that my version of homeschooling is all unschooling (although it does include plenty of that)… but we do try to respect our children, respect the ideas that bodies and property belong to their owners, and make peaceful choices.
For a long time I wanted to let Miriam’s hair grow until she asked me to cut it. I thought, well, there’s a possiblity that she’ll never want to cut it and that should be her choice, not one that I make for her. I let it grow to about this length before I decided that wasn’t working for us:
Maybe you can see why, eh? Bangs in the face, in her eyes, alllll the time. I was a kid her age once, I had bangs, they grew long. I remember just how well you can see out of long bangs. That is, not well at all. Miriam absolutely refused to keep hair clips in, or let me do side pony tails, or anything other than a quick brush.
It feels like your baby is manipulating you– she won’t stop crying, she won’t sleep in her crib, she is asleep until the SECOND you put her down, she demands to be held all the time. Your friends kids don’t do this do they? Maybe your relatives think you’ve spoiled her by holding her too much and just need to suck it up and let her cry.
Does this sound familiar? To many moms, it does. You are not alone. You are among a sea of women who have heard this before and have talked about it and searched for solutions. Much research has been done. Many theories have been tried. Now let’s find what works for you.
I have yet to meet a parent or child who says, “I love time outs, I think they are such a great and effective tool”, and yet, the use of time out as a discipline method is still extremely popular. Trying other options, new parenting techniques are slow to catch on because people have a “well this worked for my parents” or “why test it out on my kids” approach. I won’t write you some hooey story about how letting your kids run wild is best for them, or that setting boundaries is wrong. What I will try to do, is empower you to set comfortable boundaries and teach what is right and wrong in a way that you and your child both feel good about.
There are all these debates popping up about which parenting style is best. Whether helicopter parenting is damaging to college students, or free range parents should be arrested for neglect, etc. etc. The truth is, most of us do not really ascribe to either party. We do things our way, a way I like to describe as “balanced parenting”.
So what does this look like? Well, you’re probably doing it already. Balanced parenting means making decisions about how much involvement to have in your child’s activities based on factors that change, including situation factors, and the individual needs of your child.
I came across a comment from a parent today that said she had to use the “cry it out” method of sleep training because her baby was crying for about an hour in the evening no matter what she did. When Miri was an infant, she also had a very rough hour or two right around dinner time. My mama said that I had a fussier time too when I was a baby, in fact, she called it “the witching hour”.
For us, the witching hour fell when Daddy came home from work and everything was busy. He thought it was him coming home that made her cry. The thought crossed my mind that maybe she just didn’t want to let me eat. Of course, since we know that babies are not manipulative, my sweet girl didn’t hate her father or want to prevent me from eating… she just was a normal baby who needed a little bit of extra attention at a certain time of day.