For the greater part of my maternal experience I have been incredibly inclusive of my son.
I am not sure when I made the decision to fully include him in my life but it evolved into that. I told you how he has been out with me while serving the community since his birth but I don’t know that I have ever talked about the way that has played out with my peers.
One of the bigger surprises was when I was called a helicopter parent for taking him so many places with me. He was young, maybe three or so, and it was the first time I heard this turn of phrase.
The first thing I did when I got home was to look up the term and realized that I was not a helicopter parent. I don’t make his behavioral choices for him, I don’t manage how he behaves, what I have chosen to control was his place, as in location.
I think the irony was in where I think this came from. I had read a book called Freakonomics and was pretty impressed with its look into how readers are created. My understanding was that the biggest factor in reading was if the parents were readers, that it indicated that modeling the behavior was as important as asking them to experience reading.
So, when I would model reading with him I would often think about modeling other behaviors that I considered important. One of those was that of giving back to his communities, volunteering and while I don’t recall making that a conscious decision I do recall taking him with me to meetings and events thinking about what he would infer from these experiences over time. In time, it became a norm and just what I had to do based on other choices like which school I enrolled him at, where my husband and I work and so on. I am so very lucky that he is often really well behaved.
I don’t know what he will do with those experiences, he doesn’t get upset with having to go to yet another meeting, and I try to fend off only child syndrome as much as I can. I do know he is a wonderful little boy and that I am excited to see how he grows and finds his place in the world.
So, I do the best I can and take a deep breath when another parent vocally makes an opinion on how I choose to rear my son. The greater courage comes from ignoring most other parents and to keep following my gut.
“Perhaps it takes courage to raise children..” ~ John Steinbeck, East of Eden