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.