Dear Mama: It’s Time to Rise Up and Stand Down

stand down

Some believe the older we get, the more introspective we become.

Likely so.

But if you want to learn the most about yourself, take a look at your child.

Rearing these treasured beings has made me more self-aware than any other life experience.

Yes, watching my little ones develop is like holding a magnifying glass to my personal psyche.

It’s just as terrifying as it sounds.

So naturally, we endeavor to nudge and influence our precious offspring away from whatever weaknesses and insecurities we as parents see in ourselves. We bend our babes toward the strength and good we personally hope to attain. We shelter them from risks and harms we individually experienced or seek to avoid.

stand down

We insert ourselves in our children’s development, to create the best life experience for them, to shield them from imperfections.

Nothing is wrong with hands-on parenting. This world needs engaged parents more than ever. Our babies flourish when we actively participate in their lives.

That’s a no-brainer.

But what about the moments where we need to stand down?

The moments where, as a mom, I exercise self-restraint and deliberately avoid intervening in a less-than-ideal situation, so my child can develop.

As a recovering idealist, I cringe.  Though context is essential–because I’m merely referring to limited situations where children are safely learning and gaining independence. I am absolutely not talking about situations where my child might be in danger of harm.

And I’m mostly preaching to myself, here.

Because I want my child to be the best he can be.

Because I want my child to have a pleasant existence.

Because I want my child to avoid my mistakes and personal shortcomings.

But I’m gradually learning that sometimes parenting is less about intervening and more about letting. . .

Letting my sweet boys dig in the dirt.

Letting my toddler eat chili with his hands while he dons a new shirt.

Letting my little ones hold worms and frogs and snails.

Letting them “organize” their toys in a way that differs from my preferences.

Letting my three-year-old brush his face teeth by himself.

Letting my boys [sometimes and gently] disagree with one another.

Letting them make mud pies.

Letting my son make his bed without my subsequent improvement.

Letting my three-year-old make his own peanut butter and jellies.

So much of parenting is about intervening.

But maybe we need to make space to stand down.

Maybe the most hands-on parenting we can do is sometimes hands-off.

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Paige Pippin
Paige Pippin is a wife, mama, attorney, and blogger. For more laughter and encouragement, visit PaigePippin.com