What is a progressive parent? Someone who does not go by the conventional rules of parenting and either introduces more modern outlook to life or help their child carve their own path. Starting from prolonging breast feeding, depending on formula feed, homeschooling, preferring extra-curricular over academics, not imposing their beliefs on the child etc. A progressive parent is someone who is clear on how they wish to bring up their kid; away from the traditional norms.
And then there are ‘wannabe’ progressive parents like me, who are wedged in between trying to give the child a more contemporary approach to life but stuck in ways because of societal expectations. I am often left wondering if I am doing the right thing trying to be different.
To start with, I breastfed my child for 2 years and 2 months. Most parents known to me stopped at the one-year mark, but I felt that one more year of breastfeed could greatly help him despite being constantly told by many people to slowly wean him off. But I took my time.
With the online classes today, I have got a better and more tiresome glimpse into my son’s academics, needless to say my 8-year-old clearly finds it a bore and instead prefers sports. Of course, he is too young to know what he needs to do with life, but at this moment, this is what works for him best. We have never been strict about it and given him a rather long rope to figure it out. While we say it doesn’t bother us, truth is the peer pressure gets to us more than him and evidently, and we find ourselves drawing comparisons. As a ‘wannabe’ progressive parent we take great self-restrain from pushing our thought process on him.
Even when it comes to religious preferences, we have never imposed it on our son to follow most of the practices. Matter of fact, he doesn’t even know which religion he belongs to. Frankly, it was not intentional. But our focus was on more important things.
Another aspect that is unconventional in our parenting is us not restricting our language in front of him. We try our best to not use cuss words in front of him, but we cannot expect the same from everyone else and of course, we also have serious Netflix addiction! In a social get-together once he blurt out the f word to everyone’s horror and immediately, we knew boundaries have to be drawn. We have told him that cuss words are not bad. It is just a way adults, who are above the age of 18, sometimes express themselves. He can use them too but only after 18. This has made it extremely easy for us and we are not bothered about him hearing those words because I am fairly confident (so far) that he won’t repeat.
He doesn’t shy away from showing physical affection. As a matter of fact, he does not see anything wrong in expressing his fondness through hugging and kissing, ‘everyone’ he loves. But being a boy, I know he needs to be more aware of how he behaves around his peers. Although I clearly handled it poorly initially, I have come to a better understanding of this over time. It was an uncomfortable conversation, but is an important one. When I spoke to him about ‘touch’ and respecting another person’s boundaries, he took it to his heart. I even had an earnest conversation about feminism. Too small for it? I don’t think so. If we start young, he will have a more open and broader idea of life. And maybe, just maybe, understand the world a little better.
What did I learn so far? Just let the child adapt to new things at their own pace. Instead of pushing my ideologies, I think teaching about kindness, respect and generosity will go a long way. When it comes to religion or understanding the nuances of genders, I hope he learns on his own.
A child should accept what the world has to offers with open arms, not because he was asked to follow something but because he decided what is good for him to be a responsible citizen of the world. While I continue my journey on being the ‘wannabe’ blend of tradition and modern, I hope that my ways help my son and also teach me a few lessons along the way.
Photo credit: jcomp