How to Do Less, Trust More, and Become a Simplicity Parent
by Kate Saffle
A year ago
What would it look like to parent from a deep core of trust and acceptance? And wouldn’t it be great to take a step back from all the “shoulds” of parenting, and instead operate from your own intuitive understanding of your child? Parenting today often feels complicated and fraught with anxiety, as though our worries should be enough to keep our children safe, healthy, and happy. When I was a new mother myself, I thought that if I was vigilant enough for every possible threat, I could keep my child safe. The reality is that not only was it exhausting, but it sucked the joy out of the very reason we have children. Helicopter, anxiety-driven parenting is all too common today, and our children are feeling the negative effects of it.
There is a more intuitive and peaceful approach to raising children that can be found within the simplicity parenting method. Imagine raising children that feel secure, confident in themselves and relatively immune to social pressure, and are growing in their independence and skills. Also imagine parenting in a way that sets healthy boundaries, creates greater trust in society, and allows a deeper relationship with your child. In today’s article, we’ll examine the simplicity parenting approach to raising children, and the steps you can take today.
One of the biggest obstacles many parents experience today is a fear of “what if.” Often it’s not a specific fear, but rather a compilation of worries fueled by sensationalized media stories and urban myths passed around parenting circles and at the soccer game. We believe that if we worry enough, our children will remain safe, however, this is superstitious at best. Rather, we can create the outcome of safety and security we desire, by first believing and trusting in the relative safety our children already experience today. If we closely examine the safety statistics (see at end of article), it’s easy to see that children are safer today than they’ve ever been. Yet, many parents today operate daily from a fear of the worst-case scenario, and it is negatively affecting our children’s independence, their growth and resiliency, and their confidence.
Surely you're familiar with the term helicopter parenting, which describes parents who hover and tend to be over involved in the lives of their children. This is a form of parenting that we might think of as being “best” because it means that the parent is intimately involved in every aspect of the child’s life and able to protect them from any dangers. In the simplicity parenting method, however, parents understand that children need opportunities to grow in their independence and practice making good choices.
One of the ways to take a step back is to talk less. Parents today are often encouraged to verbalize everything their young child is doing as a way to encourage the child’s vocabulary and understanding of the world. While it is important to talk with our kids, many parents today give too much information that can be overwhelming to the child. As Kim John Payne says on the subject, “Our intention may be to acknowledge something, but very often we describe, praise, instruct, and embellish it as well. Like a dancer who is leading too much, we lose the chance to see how the other person was going to move. After a while, he or she may simply let us carry them along, their little feet never touching the floor.” (pg 190, “Simplicity Parenting.”) As parents, we have the opportunity to hold space for our children--their feelings, their thoughts, and their actions--without applying our own meaning and expectations to it.
Another way to practice simplicity parenting is to be conscious of the emotional energy we bring to our relationships with our children. Kids are like little mirrors and often pick up on our emotional state subconsciously and even without us realizing it. If you’ve ever been in a bad mood and then noticed your child misbehaving, it’s most likely because she is feeling disconnected from you. One way to manage our emotional energy is to disengage from any news sources, television shows, social media accounts, or activities that chronically create negative or anxiety-fueled moods. I’m not recommending that you become a recluse and avoid the world, but rather be aware of your triggers. For example, I don’t ever watch the news as the sensational reports trigger my anxiety, however, I find that reading news articles doesn’t bother me. It may take some experimenting to find what works best for you and self-awareness is key as you work through your triggers.
Finally, experiment with giving your child more freedom to explore, experiment, and make mistakes. There’s no doubt that we all want the best for our children. However, I often see parents who believe that by providing every opportunity, activity, and learning experience, we can mold them into the adults we think they need to be. Furthermore, the parents are typically the ones guiding and leading those experiences rather than the kids themselves. Our children need opportunities to be the captain of their own ship, to try to climb the tree or create a new recipe in the kitchen; and we can provide the scaffolding that encourages independent growth.
Ask yourself: is my child ready for a new level of independence that I am holding her back from?
Recently, my 8 year old daughter has been expressing a desire to cook independently, and I had been resisting her request. After more careful thought, I realized that while she had grown in independence and skill in the kitchen, I was still imagining her ability as that of a much younger child. This morning she independently cooked me an omelette from start to finish, safely and with pure pride in her own skills.
We might then ask ourselves: what opportunities and responsibilities is my child now ready to take on?
Our goal for our children is to raise them to be self-sufficient and confident adults and doing so requires providing them with the opportunities to take risks, work independently, and learn new skills.
The good news about the simplicity parenting approach is that there is no checklist that must be met or strict Do’s and Don’ts for how you raise your children. Instead, it operates from the assumption that love, connection, and trust are the main ingredients for creating a peaceful and rhythm-based childhood. We can trust our own intuition as to what our children need to thrive and grow, rather than succumbing to the media’s fear-based reports or the latest fad parenting book. As we grow in our parenting approach and trust that we know what’s best for our children, we become the adults our kids need us to be.
- 0.1% of missing child cases are stereotypical “stranger abduction” cases; the majority are from family members or acquaintances
- Missing child cases have fallen 40% since 1997
- Between 1993 and 2013, the number of children killed by street accidents (whether walking or biking) drop from 800 to less than 250 per year in the United States.
You can catch more from Kate by visiting her at https://thestreamlinedlife.com.