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A Philosophy of Mothering

Jennifer Pepito

I have a confession to make. I might have a slight addiction to parenting books. I am so enamored with my children, and with the high calling of raising them, and this drives me to read and study all that I can about how to do this well. The only problem with all this study of parenting is that it can often lead to confusion about how to actually parent. Since every book that I read has a slightly different take on the job, It can lead to feeling overwhelmed as I try to actually navigate our day to day life.

If I think back on all the books that I have read, a few of them stand out as being very insightful, and there are a few that might have offered some helpful advice, but overall are hardly worth mentioning.

Aside from "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" from the La Leche League, most of the earlier books on parenting that I read, favored a very traditional approach to parenting, bordering on authoritarian. They focused on teaching your children to obey, to be respectful, and polite. The upside of those books, is that I started out with an expectation that children could be polite and fun to be with.The downside is that they didn't address development at all, and when my second daughter was having a hard time following my directions, because of auditory processing difficulties, I was completely lost about how to proceed.

This led to a new phase of parenting books, as I read everything that I could about special needs and child development. I became much more attuned to my children's physical and developmental needs, while still expecting them to follow my directions to the best of their ability.

Even as my oldest has entered her twenties, I still love to read about parenting and child development. As I offer guidance to young moms through my preschool curriculum, I am constantly thinking and researching about how to help children learn and develop. As I read and observe, a philosophy of mothering has taken shape, which helps to guide me in these golden years of motherhood.

Although there are so many ways of mothering that work just fine, for us, we have settled on a philosophy that I define as freedom parenting. We are still parenting our children, which assumes that we have the ability to say no to playing video games all day, or that we can ask our children to read a book, or complete a math lesson. However, within our parenting structure, there is great freedom. My child can start a business, or make plans with a friend, they can choose to read before doing math, or do science experiments instead of a history lesson. We desire to provide a beautiful atmosphere for our children which allows for many choices, while still offering gentle guidance.

We tried being permissive, but that led to way too much work for me, as I struggled to clean up after my little creatives, who seldom took notice of the chaos they were leaving behind as they jumped from project to project. Having my youngest child believe that he didn't have to follow any of my directions, also made it very hard to homeschool. As much as I want our learning to be fun, and interest led, there is a point where my children must settle down for a few minutes and tackle some math problems or write down some words, and although absolute freedom in school choices may work well for some children, it wasn't what I was seeking to build. I wanted interest led, with a side of self control. I wanted a balance of reasonable expectations and rhythms, coupled with plenty of free time.

We also tried being authoritarian, but being too bossy with our kids, robbed them of the confidence that making decisions for themselves can bring. With our older children, they have developed that confidence through going to college as high school students, and through working for other people, but it was a harder process for some of them than it would have been if they had been given more leeway and support in their decision making earlier on.

Despite our parenting mistakes and pendulum swings, we are fortunate to have seven healthy, happy, hardworking, and fun children that we are privileged to be in relationship with. One of my highest goals as a mother has been to have children who love God and love us, and so far, my dreams are realized. We have asked their forgiveness for our mistakes, and we have grabbed onto grace for ourselves, for those same mistakes. We greet each new day as a clean slate, and do our best to love our children well, and to guide the young ones gently. As we love with all of our hearts, and maintain a home that is characterized by rhythms, balanced with grace and freedom, we are building powerful people who can face each day with hope.

Visit Jennifer Pepito's site: The Peaceful Press

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