This is a guest blog article, by my friend Walker Powell.
my feelings. Or I can choose to sit down with him and play with his train set, but if I do it grumpily, silently blaming him for being so needy, then I am simply letting him take control of the situation. Is it any wonder, then, that so often in these cases he is unhappy even though I’m playing with him?
The choice I’m making is not whether to do what my son wants or what I want. I can pay attention to him while I’m doing chores and I can equally shut him out entirely while ostensibly playing with him. The choice is both deeper and simpler than that. It’s the weighing of whose needs are more important in this specific situation. Does his need for connection outweigh my need for a clean house? Usually, there is a way to meet both needs. But there are times when he really needs me to lay down with him and nurse for a few minutes, or we need to drop what we’re doing and take a slow walk to the park. I can see this, and I can meet these needs, without losing the stance of leader, if it is my choice to willingly do this with him. I can choose, consciously and happily, to lie in bed and let him nurse for twenty minutes.
A leader, I have found, does not need to be always physically leading in every situation. I don’t need to plan out every moment of our day so that I always have something I need do to. I can let him share in the routine, and make a day that works for both of us. It’s a matter of choosing to put his needs at a level with mine.
The best part is, even if it may seem as though I am getting less of my own stuff done in a day, the truth is that I am far more in control of my day than I was before. I feel empowered to choose to meet my own needs, calmly and without guilt, or to choose to meet his, joyfully and knowing that I am still in charge of the situation. Hopefully, I am also teaching him to take responsibility of his own choices and emotions, and as he gets older, there will be more give and take in our relationship, more flexibility in meeting both of our needs at once.
Walker Powell lives with her husband and two-year-old son in Colorado, where they enjoy home cooking, taking long walks, and trying to live a simple, balanced life. They believe in the Continuum Concept, Equally Shared Parenting, and living in harmony with the earth.
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