This morning, I peeked in on my 2y8m son playing quietly alone. Finding him breastfeeding his babydoll, I tiptoed out to get my phone so I could capture it. He heard me in the hall and followed me. I didn’t get to catch the breastfeeding, but I did catch the babywearing (at least, until he figured out he was being recorded.)
Both of my oldest sons toy-wear and breastfeed their toys. Especially if a toy gets an “owie,” they’ll soothe it with some pretend breastfeeding or wearing. They also bring things to me to breastfeed like trucks, legos, and swords-their most prized toys. I have breastfed Jedi, but haven’t nursed any Sith except Darth Vadar so far.
I like that my so-called “all boy” boys know it is fine to pretend to cut one another to ribbons on the battlefield then turn around and cook play food, nurse sick toys, and swab the deck with the floor mop. I owe much of this to their father whom they observe fulfilling any task necessary in natural partner parenting and householding.
I know they are beginning to understand gender stereotyping because I’ve started hearing “that’s for girls/boys” statements every now and again. We talk about it and I leave it up to them to decide whether they want to accept the limitations that those labels provide. My goal is that they will get in the habit of thinking about a presented idea critically then decide whether to keep it or toss it aside. This can make for some parenting challenges because the critical thinking and questioning transmits into every area. I’ve got to be confident in my reasons and I’ve got to be willing to be flexible when questioned by my kids.
It takes a lot of patience and truthfulness with myself. It would be easier and faster to simply override them and decide everythingwithout input from the citizenry. But, I try to remember that I’m not raising children, I’m raising people.
I don’t want to raise tyrants. I want them to grow into compassionate, self-contained, capable adults. This means equipping them with the skills to question authority figures and ideas, while being respectful and empathetic.
When I’m in the midst of the barrage of questions, it sometimes feels like I’ll never get through it. But, then they’ll be a moment when my fumbling for lost connection stops because one of my children will pick up the connection and hand it back to me. It’s in those rare moments that I know it’s worth it.
Which brings me back to their imaginative play time. I often see them modeling our reflection sessions, when we talk simply about earlier disagreements without judgment. Obie Wan and Darth Vadar are often negotiating empathy during play time. All out mêlée is often talked down to training mêlée level, which to the untrained eye looks just as pretend deadly but is actually saber bashing with pre-agreed compassion. I notice they discuss things with each other more and actually end up using more creativity because they vibe off one another.
With all the rambunctious activity going on, I like to remember these quiet, nurturing moments of play. It pleases me immensely to see them taking what they observe and using it in their free, imaginative play.
Do your children enjoy play nurturing like they see modeled to them? If so, what are their favorite toys to nurture? How are you defining or undefining gender roles in your family? I’d love to hear from you
Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry (and probably while NAK in the dark)
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