When you go to a restaurant, do you let your kids run around between other people’s chairs, licking butter off the table and flinging food across the room as well as onto the floor? No, that’s not my parenting style, either. My son gets strapped into the high chair, and there he stays. If he gets too restless, we will hold him on our laps or one of us will take him for a walk outside. Yes, you have the right to take your child out to eat, but other people have the right to enjoy their meals, too. As far as mess goes, I have this wonderful little place mat made of a rubbery material that suction-cups to the table. It has a sort of reservoir that hangs off the edge of the table that catches bits of food the child drops. And even if my son does get some food on the floor, which inevitably happens, I use a napkin to clean it up before I leave the restaurant. Wait staff are paid $2 an hour. They shouldn’t have to clean up after your kids. You do it at home. Do it at the restaurant. Cleaning up after your kids is part of having a responsible parenting style.
Do you allow your child to run around in the backyard, dig in the dirt and splash around in the dogs’ water bowl? Why not? If you want a nurturing parenting style, you’ve got to let your kids explore their world. So what if they get a little dirty? Kids come amazingly clean given a bath or a wipe down, and clothes do, too. It’s amazing the clothes I’ve salvaged with some stain remover and bleach. I think that if you don’t let your kids experience their environments, they’ll never learn to live safely in them.
Another way to add “nurturing” to your parenting style is to make your kids feel important. When your baby babbles something incomprehensible to you, act like you know just what she’s saying. “Oh, really! Wow, that’s great!” is a response I give my toddler when I can’t understand him. Sometimes I mimic the sounds he uses, to his delight. Another way to make your kids feel important is to applaud their “little” achievements and times when they help you. When my son sees me putting on my socks, he brings me my tennis shoes. I think this is amazing, considering he just came out of the birth canal 16 months ago. So I clap my hands and say, “Yeah, good for you. Thank you!” Sometimes, he claps for himself, too.
Now, as I said earlier, we all have different parenting styles. But being loving to our children should be part of everyone’s parenting style. Hugging, kissing and saying, “I love you” to our kids is crucial for their emotional health and growth. If you want your kids to love and be loved in this world, you’ve got to show them how.