Most people, I believe, think that you choose your parenting style. To some extent that’s true, however, so much more dictates how you parent than one’s personal preference. A huge influencing factor is culture and environment.
The Tight Reins of an Urban Parent
We learned to parent in a bustling urban city, and with that comes a certain mindset. Once your little darlings are off and running, the mental checklist goes a mile a minute…”Ok, we are going to the playground! Do I have the diaper bag? Stroller? Baby carrier for when they inevitably get tired of walking after they inevitably want out of the stroller? Snacks? Which route has the least number of busy intersections…Don’t cross the alleys by yourself! Are all the dogs on leashes? Watch for the presents left behind by said dogs with owners who can’t be bothered to clean up after them. Distract children while going past the neighborhood tourette’s lady so we don’t have to explain what the f-word is just yet.” The narrative goes on and on.
And then, add in going somewhere with multiple children, say, riding bikes or scooters. Mental and physical olympics. You wouldn’t consider letting them go ahead up the street still in your sights let alone, say, go to the playground next door by themselves. Even playing outside in back of our apartment was something that needed frequent checking in on, if not actual supervision.
Loosening the Reins as an RV Parent
So to say there’s a certain level of constant tension and being on guard as a city parent is an understatement. But it has been our norm for the 8 1/2 years we’ve been parents. Having now settled down for a couple months, we are starting to see a gradual switch over of the pace of life. Letting go of the constant and involuntary parental anxiety (ok, not completely letting go, don’t worry) feels like a betrayal to common sense.
It is a daily, no, hourly conscious effort to loosen the tight grip on the children’s every move and let them, especially Lina, take the reins a little and feel out what a bit of independence feels like. It takes a lot of trust in them and everyone around you. But seeing the pride in their faces as they bike around our campground with neighbor kids or get to go “run an errand” without us makes it worth it. We are testing the waters in many different areas like letting the older two “go on ahead” when we are walking to different activities. This may even involve them *gasp* being out of sight for a short while. Relaxing at the beach a little more and letting them play a little farther away – without compromising water safety, of course. Or letting them go get the mail.
Being Shaped and Taught as a Parent
I, for one, may never get to the point of letting go of that unrelenting stress surrounding my children’s activities and well-being, but I’m hopeful this year will help me continue learning as a parent – for I believe parenting should be a journey of not only teaching and shaping, but of being shaped and taught.