Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How we live at our house

While trying to come up with useful suggestions for a friend who is interested in changing her parenting I wrote down how we try to live as a family. While I was sorting through my ideas I realized that when we say "mothering" we think of nurturing and warmth and love, and when we say "parenting" we think of discipline. Parenting in the conventional sense of the word speaks of getting our children to do what we want them to do, shaping them as they grow up so they will meet our expectations. I wouldn't use the word "parenting" to describe what we do at our house. If you are interested in learning more about how we try to live each day as a family here is what I came up with today:

We are all partners in our life together. Everyone's needs are equally important.

We acknowledge that our children are people. We respect them for who they are and do not try to mold them into the kind of people we think they should be. They are free to express who they are in what they wear, what they do with their hair, what they eat, when they sleep, how they spend their time, the kind of friends they have, what they believe, and any other way they can come up with.

Our children have choices and we have choices. When we are making choices that affect other members of the family we try to take their needs and feelings into consideration.

We recognize that we chose to bring these children into our life, they did not choose to be here. Because of this we are aware that it is our responsibility to meet their needs, but it is not their responsibility to meet our needs. Our children are not here to meet our expectations of what it will be like to have children and be a family.

We do not control our children. We do not use rewards or punishment, we do not threaten or bribe. We do not use love, praise, negative attention, disapproval, or the withdrawal of love and positive attention, to manipulate our children's behavior.

We know that nothing is more important than our relationships with our children. We are respectful, honest, and dependable. We validate their experiences, take their feelings seriously and make their needs a priority. We do not tease, discount or belittle. We avoid saying anything that is followed by "I was just joking."

How do you live at your house?


  1. "Mothering," of course, leaves me out in the cold, genetically/linguistically speaking, even though I have often been called a mother, with two additional syllables included at no extra cost. I guess I'm stuck with "parenting" but I mean it in the "mothering" way, ok?

  2. "Because of this we are aware that it is our responsibility to meet their needs, but it is not their responsibility to meet our needs." such an important distinction to make!

    I never really deconstructed the two words like that before - maybe that difference it why I'd much rather call myself a mom than a parent. Mom sounds so much warmer and inviting and parent, well, parent does bring to my mind obeying and ordering and judging.

  3. :) Frank, notice I didn't even touch "fathering." The word father for some brings thoughts of "Wait until your father gets home!" However, I don't hear the world "fathering" used in society all that often. I'm sure plenty of people would agree that you are a mother... I mean that you parent in a mothering way ;)