But I digress.
The thought occurred to me today that, just like any other hard pill to swallow, if I want to succeed in this attempt at getting the hippie mom crowd to realize just how much closer they are to the (shhh!) conservative side of the political spectrum, I have to speak to them in terms they can understand.
Pause. I DO NOT mean that they can’t understand me. That is not an insult to anyone’s intelligence. (After all, how intelligent can I be if I’m publishing the very strategy I mean to use against them?) I mean it’s always more effective to use common terms, that is, something we both have in common so that comparisons are made more easily and people don’t get bored.
Anyway. Possibly the most central idea to all of attachment/gentle/natural parenting is respect. I respect your body (I won’t circumcise boys; I won’t spank you). I respect your choice (I won’t force-feed you. I will let you pick your own clothing). I respect your instincts. (I won’t force you to sleep away from me. I won’t make you kiss someone if you don’t want to).
Centered in this is a very real belief that children know what is good for them. Their instincts tell them to be wary of people they don’t know, and so they hide behind our legs. When we respect the choice they are making — even if it hurts Aunt Sally’s feelings — we are reinforcing their ability to trust themselves. We are saying, “You are right. Be cautious. Trust people before you go with them.” Their body tells them when they feel full, so they begin to throw food or stand up in their seat at the table. When we see this behavior and respect the choice they’ve made, we’re are teaching good eating habits, “You are right. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full.” When children grow a little bit older, they will show us what they want to learn about and how quickly, and by what method. When we allow this to happen organically, when we respect these choices, we are saying, “You are right. You know yourself better than anyone. Tell me how I can help you.”
We do not tell them that we know better, that we can make better choices for them. We don’t require a certain number of bites at the kitchen table because we know that kind of rule teaches them not to trust their bodies. We don’t strike them. It only teaches them that whoever is biggest wins. We don’t require them to share when they don’t want to. Instead we model good and empathetic behavior. We show them how we share, and point out that it makes others happy. But we don’t force it on them.
The incredible majority of the parents I know who bring their children up this way also vote strictly down the liberal side of the ticket, and I don’t understand it.
There is no secret about the two major political parties in the U.S. today. No matter what side you like (and I hate both), everyone knows that the left likes “big government.” The simple explanation for this is that when the going gets tough, the left is most likely to come up with some kind of “solution” (I have never used a word more loosely than just now) where the government gets involved. It means that the left is more likely to think that if we can just get the rules right, the government can fix it. The answer is always “the government should…”
Pause again. I know the right does this, too. But, by definition, and based on the history of the Democratic party, what I am saying is true. Take it or leave it.
So this is the point. We are raising our children to trust themselves, to be self-reliant, and to follow their instincts. We are telling them they do not need someone else to make decisions for them, and we are trusting them to make good choices by modeling good behavior. We allow them to be people first, and children second.
But the world we are sending them out into is one where the government makes their decisions for them. About health care. About how or when they are allowed to defend themselves. About what they can do with their bodies. About how much money they are required to give away every paycheck to support programs which are failing. Every time a liberal politician gets a vote from us, we are allowing them to take more of our childrens’ autonomy away. We are saying, “You can’t be trusted to save money for yourself. Let me elect someone who will save it for you. You can’t be trusted to help your fellow man. Let me make sure someone is there who will require you to do so by law. You are not responsible enough to protect your family. Let the government to that.”
I’m not asking for a vote for any politician here. If I had my way, the federal government would be virtually non-existent. States would make their own rules, and the Fed would exist only to defend its land.
But it’s something to think about. We raise our kids to trust themselves, and then vote for men who think they ought not to be trusted. We gentle, attachment-style parents seem to avoid the government like the plague (the CDC and its push for routine vaccines, the public education system — both created by liberal presidents) until it comes to voting time.
Don’t get upset with me yet. There’s more to come. I’m just getting started. But for now, this is enough to ponder for a bit.