I can’t believe I’m about to write this but Hugh Hefner’s ex-girlfriend Kendra Wilkinson and I have something in common.
Something in common aside from the fact that we both think sex with The Hef is pretty gross, that is.
Kendra, who is blogging over at Parenting.com, says she’d prefer to let her kid burn his hand a little so he learns what hot means rather than prevent the accident altogether.
If there is one thing my husband and I argue about the most, it’s our different parenting styles. I tend to think he’s a hoverer, a helicopter dad extraordinaire. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great dad. A really great dad. I just want to scratch his eyes out when he thinks that because I don’t hover I’m not as good a parent as him.
I’ll plop down on the couch and let Henry, who, at ten months is crawling faster than most people walk, have his run of the room. I’ll even let him disappear into the kitchen for a minute or so before I chase him down.
His movements are predictable – dog food and water bowls, the alphabet magnets on the fridge – the usual suspects. And the area is pretty much child-proof. At worst he might eat dog food. Big deal, I say. However, Serge gets antsy the moment Henry disappears from view. In fact, Serge is uncomfortable just letting him crawl around on the floor. I don’t mind if he eats a clump of dirt from the potted plant. Serge is worried the fertilizer in the dirt will kill Henry. He actually said this to me one time and I just laaauughed. “It’s just dirt.” I said. “It’s good for him. It’ll toughen his little immune system right up.” But my entreaty fell on deaf ears for Serge was already rinsing out Henner’s mouth and trying to pour water down his throat to lessen the poisonous impact from the deadly dirt.
Yesterday we went Christmas shopping at the mall. At one point, for no obvious reason, (when is the reason for why kids do what they do ever obvious?) Violet decided to lay on her stomach on the floor of the mall. We were browsing items at a jewelry display and her groveling around on the floor didn’t bother me in the slightest. Do your thang, kid. Just so long as you aren’t eating anything, breaking anything or trying to kill your brother. Serge was immediately distracted from browsing while he tried to physically pull her off the ground and, when she thwarted him with the old sack of potatoes maneuver, began convincing her to get up because the ground is “gross”.
And so it is, that one free range parent and one helicopter parent try to parent together. It’s tough, ladies and gentleman, I’m not going to lie. Serge is convinced I don’t do enough as a parent and I’m just as certain that he needs to chill the eff out and let stuff happen because, as the great Kendra Wilkinson opines:
We can do our best as parents to teach him, but it is up to him to learn. For example, he used to love to play with water; he would sit there and turn the faucet on and off and get the biggest kick out of it. One time the water was pushed to the hot side—not all the way, but still on the hot side. I kept telling him “Hot, Hank, No, Hank, Ouchie.” But I DIDN’T turn it off. I told him why not to touch it. He looked up at me and said, “Hot!” and didn’t touch it. If I had turned the faucet off he probably would have burned his hand at some point because he wouldn’t have known better. I would have prevented the incident instead of teaching him to learn for next time.
My sentiments exactly. While Serge is worried that Henry’s renegade crawling will result in a bonked noggin, I don’t mind if it does. It’s how he learns. And I want my boy to understand early on that learning life’s lessons is up to him. Do this and that happens. Do that and this happens. Sure, it’s all a balancing act. That’s all parenting is, really. One big balancing act. And basically just keeping a tiny human being from killing themselves. And part of keeping them from killing themselves is letting them learn from hurting themselves. Because eventually, I won’t be there every second of the day and I want to know that my kids can learn those lessons on their own and not rely on mom to constantly yank them back from the edge. Again, I defer to Kendra:
It’s funny, at the park sometimes when baby Hank is running and he falls, SO many parents’ heads turn, and they automatically jump up and say “Oh my gosh, is he OK?” Of course, he’s OK, kids will fall—especially when they’re running around, playing and having fun! They won’t go through life without a cut, or a scrape or a bruise. He will run as fast as he can and fall, but then the next time he will know to run a little bit slower until he figures out on his own how fast he can run without falling.
For now, Henry has earned the independence to crawl into the next room for a minute or so without me hot on his tail. Pretty soon he’ll prove he can play alone in his room for several minutes at a clip. And then the backyard. And the neighbor’s house. And his girlfriend’s house… But he’ll never get there if we don’t start here.
Do you and your spouse have different parenting styles? Does it lead to arguments? How does it play out in your household?
You can also find Monica over on her personal blog, The Girl Who.