Why I Want to Be a Weird Parent

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’ve been really inspired by a style of parenting known as ‘RIE’ (Resources for Infant Educarers), which I discovered via the writings of early years expert Janet Lansbury. It is a way of relating to babies and toddlers that really focuses on respect, connection and trust. Among the guiding principles of RIE are natural motor development, self-directed play, and accepting and acknowledging feelings.

The trouble is, I think parenting this way might be making me a little…weird. I can see other mums in the playground giving me sideways looks as I let my fifteen month old happily toddle along by himself, without me following a few steps behind or directing him towards the play equipment. A few weeks ago, a mum actually sent her six year-old over to ask me to come and get my baby (he was happily poking a tree and was absolutely fine).


The trouble with Tom being my first is that I don’t currently have much experience to back up my convictions. Tom seems to be a happy, confident and well-adjusted child, but who knows if that is my parenting approach or just how he would have been regardless?

But despite the questioning looks of other parents and the occasional wobble in my belief that we are taking the right approach, I fully intend to carry on embracing the principles of RIE. Trusting Tom to play and develop in his own way, at his own pace and pursuing his own interests, has been a revelation. I get so much from watching him conquer new challenges and meet new milestones, knowing that he completely owns all of his achievements – I haven’t pushed him along, but have just stood back and given him the space to succeed.

Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. And RIE feels like the best approach for our family. So I’m going to embrace being a weird parent all the way.

Anyone want to join me on the weird parent wagon? Let me know what ‘odd’ approaches you have taken to raising your kids.

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13 thoughts on “Why I Want to Be a Weird Parent

  1. I find myself so, so overprotective as a FTM but this sounds like such a great approach. Of course, I want my little one to be able to grow and learn the way he sees fit so maybe I should back off a bit. Will definitely look into RIE. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Kaye xo


  2. I’ve never heard of RIE and will definitely be looking into it. I don’t know if this is what it’s about but I admit I already try not to “micro manage” my son, or be a “helicopter parent” I feel that these days there is too much pressure on parents to be CONSTANTLY part of their child’s play experience, being involved (and yes, sometimes pushy) in every moment. Whereas, my favourite moments are when I’ve taken a step back and I’m watching T achieve something independently.

    When we were growing up I don’t remember my mum constantly doing activities with me, she would be busy and would often leave me to my own devices which helped me become independent and establish a good imagination. This doesn’t seem to be encouraged much these days. I’m not saying I don’t do a lot of activities with my son, but I definitely think it’s important not to constantly hover and to give him the space to learn and grow on his own. If this is something RIE encourages then it could definitely be something I look into. Off to research now 🙂

    Thanks for sharing #marvmondays


    1. Definitely sounds like you are already pretty good at letting your son self-direct his play. I’m a big believer in the creative power of boredom as well. My parents weren’t constantly doing stuff with me either so my siblings and I had to learn to entertain ourselves. Which is a great skill to have for life!

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  3. I have three girls 15, 4 and 17 months and think you are absolutely on the right track. The key thing you said for me is ‘given him the space to succeed’. We can over parent and over educate. Children know how to learn. The way I see it is our job is to create the environment within which learning and discovery can take place. We need to be there to help when they get stuck or to reassure when they are worried. We also need to pose them challenges and ask them questions but they should answer them. Sugata Mitra talks about his in his experiments with children which you might find interesting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpcEpmNbHds Good luck with your little one.


  4. We tried to avoid doing things for the Tubblet that she could do herself, to help her become more independent. And we didn’t push, if she wanted to go to after school clubs etc, then we’d take her, but she didn’t have an activity every night. It seemed to work well enough. Keep doing what you believe in as you’re the ones who have to live with it! 🙂 Weird is good


  5. I love this idea, as a first time mum myself I have no idea what the hell I am doing really. I let Clem explore and play around in the mud/leaves in the local park all the time. She loves it so I just let her get on with it. I’m defintely more of a ‘weird’ parent than a ‘normal’ one.x #marvmondays


    1. Hurray for being weird. I am unconvinced that anyone really knows what they are doing as a parent – we may pick up a few tricks but really we are all just making it up as we go along…


  6. Self-directed play is wonderful! Personally, I got funny looks when I created my baby (now toddler) a treasure basket filled with wooden utensils, pastry brushes, and natural sponges…little bear loved it though! Keep up the “weirdness”! X


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