Respect the Child

May 6, 2009 at 4:51 pm (Uncategorized)

One of the major tenets of Montessori philosophy is Respect the Child.  And I think it’s also the one I have the hardest time swallowing.  I was raised to understand that respect was earned, and generally not given to children.  I have to tell myself to knock on her bedroom door.  I’ve essentially given up control over her wardrobe and hair.  Special functions excluded, of course.  I try to respect what she feels beautiful in. 

Now this totally doesn’t mean that she runs around crazy all the time, with me respecting her decision to run around like a crazy person.  She is responsible for her decisions, and the ramifications of those decisions.  If she wants to bring a big book into the store, she is responsible for carrying that book around the whole time.  There’s no leaving it in Mommy’s purse.  If she decides not to use the bathroom before leaving the house, I respect that.  But I also don’t stop the car five minutes after we leave the house so that she can use a gas station restroom.  
Anyways, I’m following tangents today.  Respect the child.  Sunshine came downstairs this morning.  She told me she didn’t feel well, and she didn’t want to go to school.  Everything in me screamed to send her to school.  She didn’t have a fever.  She didn’t look sick.  But she loves school, and I had to respect that she would know if her body didn’t feel well.  Sunshine stayed home.  I debated that choice all morning.  She seemed fine, happy even.  But when we went upstairs to take a shower, she wanted to lay in bed instead.  And at around 2:30, she walked her little tush upstairs, and went to bed.  Without even telling me.  I don’t think that’s ever happened before.  
So I’m going to say that I feel like a better mom for listening to her, respecting her.  I’m trying to raise her to make good judgements.  How can I do that without letting her flex her little judgement muscles.  That’s the way they get stronger, right?  
There are people who would say that I give her a little too much freedom.  She walked out of the house the other day wearing a pair of bermuda shorts, socks pulled up to her knees, and patent leather shoes.  Oh, and her socks were 2 different colors.  (Mom, I can practically hear you groaning, from hundreds of miles away.)  But really, peer pressure will be upon us in the not too distant future.  And then she will spend entire mornings stressing about what to wear.  She feels beautiful now.  And trust me, every other kid in her class comes to school dressed just as strangely.  It’s wonderful to have a class with such like-minded parents.  
The bottom line is that I hope this will eventually translate into a healthy respect between the two of us.  And in the short term, there are far fewer tears in the morning.  Sweet. 
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