Raising Men is a blog written by Natasha Clark. You can read an interview that she recently partook in here . I recently met Natsha via Twitter and then in the real life at the Cape Town Blogger Meet up. She is such and awesome girl/women/mom. She is funny and witty and I just want to marry her, that’s now if I was into that kind of thing. She is a mom of 2 little boys, N & B and they are some of the luckiest kids int he world! So without wastting anymore of your time on who and what she is, here is Natsha’s take on Parenting…
I think I would summarize my parenting style as “Love. With boundaries”. I am very playful and loving with my boys. I am pretty chilled and I’m not fussed about things that I find other moms fuss about. I think that all parents have their own priorities based on the way that they were raised.
Like, I am not stressed about letting the boys eat sweets, and I am not fussed over extra murals or playgroups and I’m that mother that forgets to bring the cupcakes on “Baker’s Day” at school. I have certain things that I feel more strongly about.
Like we don’t have access to any television networks at home. Not even SABC. We don’t own an aerial cable / dish / decoder whatever. We have a little old TV next to the kitchen, and there the boys watch their (read ‘my’) favorite cartoons like Baby Einstein, Postman Pat, Noddy, Teletubbies, Lady and the Tramp, Despicable Me and so on. They can watch those as they please, but Noah generally likes to fall asleep on the couch watching one of those while us grown ups chat about our day. I just don’t want my kids subjected to advertising or daytime Channel O or anything like that. I really want them to form their own personalities and viewpoints before they’re subjected to such a mass media.
We don’t really do routine. Well, we don’t do it very well. We’ve tried sometimes, but it doesn’t work with us. Everything is pretty slack. Even with breastfeeding I fed on demand, and not to a schedule. I feed my kids when they’re hungry. I give them juice when they ask for it. I’m lucky that they both really love fruit, veg and water. I think I just got the luck of the draw.
I want my kids to learn things for themselves. Benjamin crawls himself in to all sorts of situations. One afternoon he got ‘stuck’ under a bench. He kept popping his head up and banging it against the ‘ceiling’ of the bench and getting really angry at life. I didn’t rush and go rescue him, because that wouldn’t help anyone. I sat in front of him and watched him like “I’m here, but I’m not helping you out of this”. After a while and more headbumping and more tears, he figured out that he needed to lower his head and snake-crawl out of there. Sometimes it’s a bit like being a wildlife photographer in the bush. You see that Lion about to eat that Zebra, but you can’t interfere. You know? I mean, I wouldn’t let my kids play with a steak knife, but I do let them learn on their own, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable.
I am big on manners. Huge. It’s the thing I am probably the strictest about. Graeme sometimes feels that I am a bit hard on Noah, but after a year of ‘drilling’, we have a wonderfully polite little guy living in our house. I feel that manners are a way of showing others that we respect them, and that’s really important to me.
I do cringe my heart out when Noah doesn’t finish his food, but I don’t want to force him to eat. My parents made me finish all the food on my plate and to this day, no matter how full I am , or even if I am not hungry at all… I ‘can’t’ decline food when it’s offered to me, and I finish everything that was dished up. It’s a problem. One thing that mommy shouts about is throwing or playing with food. In fact, that is pretty much hiding material in my house. I would like my boys to be grateful, and appreciate that they have never really been hungry.
With food, I don’t want the boys to be brand-concious. Like, milk comes from a cow, and not from Clover. Fish don’t come from I & J, they come from the ocean. I need them to understand the earth and soil and rain and how they all work. I don’t want them to learn it in a text book, I’d like them to really understand and appreciate it. I’d like them to be able to survive without shops if need be. We don’t need Pick n Pay to survive as human beings. You know?
I give Noah hidings (a smack on his bum with a wooden spoon) when he is out of control. I don’t feel that I am abusing my child. Some kids respond to ‘naughty corners’ or ‘go to your room’ but mine doesn’t. He is sh*t scared of that spoon and will do anything I tell him when it makes an appearance. I need that control sometimes, especially when he is a bit rough with Benjamin, or might hurt himself and to teach him certain boundaries. Like “Noah if you try to climb on the roof one more time you will get a hiding”. Sure it instills fear. I am shitscared of my child ever gaining access to the balcony when we’re not there, and falling off the roof. He doesn’t understand that his life could end that way, but he does understand that he doesn’t want a smack on the bum. Ever.
I guess I don’t need my kids to be achievers or the best at anything. I feel that if a child is well loved and encouraged, then they should grow up to be confident and motivated. My boys are really confident at everything they do. I cheer them on and reward them when they do something really awesome. Even small things. The other day Benjamin figured out how to unscrew the cap of my lip-ice. It seems to simple, but for a baby to figure that out is a big deal for HIM. He was well impressed. I need him to know that I notice things like that, and that it matters. HE matters. You know? All I want is for my kids to feel loved, be good -hearted, kind, respectful and to feel important and confident. So far, so good.
I don’t fuss on brands and I don’t spend crazy amounts on clothes and toys. I would never dress my kids in Gap and Nikes. They don’t even know what they’re wearing or what the labels mean. You know… You wear a plain t-shirt with the big letters “GAP” on them. You paid for that shirt, containing that branding. You are PAYING GAP to advertise FOR them. Really. Think about it. I don’t want to use my kids as billboards. I do not buy in to mainstream at all, and I don’t want my kids to grow up being brand-concious. Material things don’t matter, and you can’t take them with you when you die. Sure, buy a good quality shirt, but it doesn’t have to have the words LEVIS printed on it accross the whole thing. Why do you so badly want everyone to know what brand of shirt your kid is wearing, you know? Why does it matter so much to you? Do you want people to know that you spent R400 on a shirt for your kid? Rather just have that printed on the shirt: “I spent R400 on this shirt”. It makes you look like less of a douche. At least it’s honest. You know, my brother begged my parents for a nice phone and he got it. Then he died. Nobody wanted his phone, people just wanted to phone it to hear his voice on his voicemail. Perspective. Now you have it. Spend your money on memories, holidays, life experiences. Not things. “Things” don’t matter. People matter.
Well, this is me now. I’m sure that things will mould and change as the boys get older and we will negotiate in certain areas. I just want them to be good people, good men. Happy.
Natasha I am so very happy and lucky that you did this post for me, I will proudly stand behind you and say that I am PRO hiding. Run on over to her blog and show some support to this awesome Mommy of 2.
Please note Raising Men was recently set to private, so please follow Natasha at Happy DuckNext step will happen on 12 Nov 2011… Watch this space! Can you say Tales of an Unlikely Mother? 🙂
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