I’ve never had the intention of being a stay-at-home parent; my mother didn’t work when I was young, so it’s not like it wasn’t a viable option to me, it was just never what I wanted to do. I want to have a career, or at any rate, I want to have a meaningful and influential impact on the world beyond my family. And so as much as I have always wanted to have children, I’ve never imagined myself as the primary caregiver. It’s unlikely, really, that either my husband or I will choose to be at home with the kids full-time, and that’s always been fine to me.
Except, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way that I want to parent. I just finished reading It’s OK Not to Share, which is a seriously fantastic read that, starting from the first principles of:
- Kids are people, with all the rights that implies; and
- Kids have unique needs and values that may not make sense to adults, but that are very real and need to be respected
develops really rich parenting strategies that, quite frankly, model exactly the kind of parent I want to be. It’s seriously worth reading.
But the problem, of course, is that these strategies involve establishing and maintaining certain kinds of environments for your child, and having ample opportunities to support and model conflict management techniques and other behaviours. And short of finding a daycare and/or preschool that upholds the same kinds of ideals of care that I would like my children to be exposed to, I worry that we simply won’t be able to have as much influence on their development as would be necessary to really teach them the kinds of things I’d like to impart.
I also realized today that the one person I know who is raising their (truly amazing) kid with awesome social justice ideals and respect for the kid’s autonomy and the like is, in fact, a full-time caregiver to their kid.
So now I don’t know what I want to do. I used to just worry about things like being able to get my parents to accept and respect the fact that I will under no circumstances be spanking my children, and that if they were to spank them, that would be grounds for them to never be alone with my kids again. Now I’m worried that I simply won’t be a big enough presence in their lives to combat the messages they’ll be getting from the world at large.
I’m sure it’s mostly an irrational fear, and I know that people who had two working parents were still deeply affected by their parents’ parenting choices and styles, but I also know that it’s going to be harder to make sure my kids avoid indoctrination into a lot of mainstream societal things, and are able to understand the difference between what’s normal and what’s right and wrong. I’m sure it’s just something I’ll have to play by ear, and it’s not something I need to figure out right now, but it’s what I’ve thinking about lately.