22 December 10
Over the past couple months, I’ve started chronicling the changes we have made as we have reversed previous parenting decisions. We have always wanted the best for our children, but previously we imposed “the best” onto them without listening to their hearts and understanding what their desires truly were.
In August this year, when Brioni turned four, we asked her to give up her security blanket — Boolah — in the interests of stopping her thumb-sucking and growing her up faster.
We didn’t ask Brioni if this was something that she wanted to do. We told her she needed to do this.
Selfishly, I wanted to stop Brioni sucking her thumb because I have held a negative view of children who suck their thumbs. I have had this idea that children who are older than three should not suck their thumbs and those that do are babyish, mollycoddled and generally bratty.
Why did I come up with such a idea? It’s foolishness!
It has led me to judge other children and their parents without looking at the child in love and understanding. To all those whom I have judged in this way, I am so sorry.
I have also heard stories about how thumb-sucking can harm the formation of the mouth and lead to “imperfect” teeth later on. And so, in fear, in selfish protection of our money and in accordance with popular culture’s views of what makes a mouth beautiful, I forced Brioni to stop by taking away her cuddly friend Boolah.
The reality was that Brioni still sucked her thumb when she was falling asleep or very sad. However, she would recede into the corner of her bed and hide under her doona to do so. Instead of openly displaying who she was, she hid in shame — knowing that I would chastise her.
It was so sad. Instead of offering comfort, I continued to judge our beautiful child. Instead of drawing Brioni out of her sadness by coaxing a smile and some cheerful chatter, I would berate her for displaying her … childishness!
Why did I think that our four-year-old needed to act like a twelve-year-old? Why did I try to change Brioni — even if it’s for her long-term good — before she was ready to initiate that change within herself?
I’m so sorry, Brioni. I love you dearly and I am learning to love you better. I’m glad that we gave Boolah back to you.
And while we were at it, I also found Aisha’s security blanket Aya and returned it to her. She’s been playing with it non-stop ever since. It’s been great to watch.
This parenting gig is harder than I thought. I thought if I did everything right, I would be a good parent. Slowly I’m learning that if I love our children right, I will be a good parent. That’s something to aspire for — more love!