I know I’ve mentioned Wife Swap before. It’s like a guilty pleasure. I don’t like to admit that I watch it – and I definitely don’t follow the show – but I do, on occasion, like to catch an episode.
One thing that I think really turns people away from the show is that the families are it are SO EXTREME. A mom that works 3 jobs and does all of the housework swaps lives with a mom that has nannies watching the kids and housekeepers cleaning her house, while she goes out to shop and get pampered. A mom that believes her kids should have the freedom to make their own choices about EVERYTHING swaps with a mom that schedules every minute of her children’s lives and enforces severe disciple to the most minor offense. Sometimes it does seem like they learn something from each other, but often they spend their time defending their choices and pointing out how the other people are wrong.
I’ve seen these extremes in teaching styles in classrooms, and in available curriculum. It just makes me wonder why the middle of the road isn’t an option for some people. Do you really feel like you have to choose between having children that are free thinkers and children that are well-behaved? A huge movement in parenting right now is what I’ve heard people call the “yes” movement. It’s like the Montessori teaching philosophy taken to the extreme and applied to home life. Allow children to explore and do what they want, and they will naturally learn because it follows their interests. They will also learn natural consequences to control their behavior.
I do think that children are often more intelligent than people give them credit for, and their ability to learn their desire to explore is phenomenal. I think this movement is particularly seen as being needed among those parents that take an extreme view of discipline as reaction to the belief that young adults now are lazy and feel entitled. However, I don’t think using it 100% of the time is best for kids, and seems like many are taking it as all or nothing.
Anyhow, watching Wife Swap makes me want to scream, “Compromise! Take lessons from both sides! Use the best of both worlds!” Also, sometimes reading other mommy blogs and parenting philosophy articles makes me want to scream the same thing.
So yes, relax and give your children freedom. Realize that you can believe in them and trust them, but also don’t be afraid to teach them. Teach them what is important to you and what you believe. You are their parents!
What extremes have you experienced?