Empty Threats don’t belong in Fun Playgrounds!

Sam and I went to the playground today, the first day of spring.  It was a lovely breezy day.  He was laughing as I pushed him in a baby swing.  We had the playground completely to ourselves (where are all the other parents and kids when it’s so nice outside?)  Then another mom showed up with her kids. Playgrounds are often divided into sections for little kids and bigger kids. I saw her younger boy go running toward the set of play equipment where Sam and I were playing. The mom yelled at him to follow them to the other end. Little boy didn’t want to play on the other half. Other mom yelled at him, “We’re going to go home if you don’t obey!”

I realize I’m new at the whole mothering job, but I didn’t believe for one second that this woman had packed up her two kids plus a baby in a stroller, driven to the park, just to turn around and go back home. I’ll file this in the Empty Threats file. I could also name this the Useless Threats file. And the terrible misbehavior that prompted the Empty Threat? The little boy wanted to play in a different part of the playground than his brother. Oh no! That definitely deserved a Useless Threat! (I can imagine the wollop that Older Brother would have given Younger Brother if the mom had indeed followed through on her threat to take them all home right then.)

And I hear parents threatening their kids with punishment all the time. One might hope that on a springy and fun morning at a playground, there could be an escape from the constant threats of punishment. It just seems so dreary to live that way, for the kid and for the parent. I’m definitely treading into some crunchymunchy Alfie Kohn parenting philosophy here. I really must get back to reading Kohn’s book, if I could just get a spare few minutes, whenever that may be. Speaking of spare time, I can hear Sam clearly now, not napping. Actually, I would’ve been surprised if he was asleep since he napped once today already, and he usually only takes one nap a day. He just seemed so sleepy as I nursed him that I thought I’d give him a chance to nap if he wanted. God knows I would happily take a nap this afternoon!

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I need to decide how crunchymunchy I am. Really, what kind of parent do I want to be?

Am I one of those “crunchymunchy” parents?  You know what I mean. “Crunchymunchy” as in the type of people who eat crunchy food like organic granola, wear hemp, and nurse their babe until he’s headed to kindergarten.  So, in terms of parenting style, where do I fall on the authoritarian-to-crunchymunchy spectrum?  I need to decide.  And the thing is, I find myself leaning more and more towards the crunchymunchy end of things.  But don’t worry, I won’t be showing up for kindergarten snack time to breastfeed.

The recipient of my parenting attempts and efforts is my son Sam.  While I was pregnant, people told me that Sam would be the joy of my life.  I was a smidge concerned because after all I’m not really a “baby person,” but they were right.  Sam is now seven months old, and he is indeed the joy of my and my husband Jack’ s lives.  I want to do this parenting thing right.  (I’ll make mistakes of course; no one is perfect.)  I don’t want to raise Sam a certain way if it is for no other reason than that was the way I was raised.  Frankly, I’m not too thrilled with the way I was raised.  I need to find a new parenting style, a different way of relating to my child.  And it looks like it’s going to have a crunchymunchy flavor.

During my spare few minutes here and there, I’ll be blogging about my trials and experiences with a more crunchymunchy style of parenting.  I expect to cover topics such as sleeping, pacifiers, eating, discipline, gender, and health, to begin with.  Of course as he gets older the issues will change.  I’ll also share a lot of my thoughts on some parenting experts.  I’ve been particularly taken with Alfie Kohn’s book Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason.  I haven’t yet finished it, but I agree with a lot of what Kohn is asserting, and I’m excited to see how his theory works in real life.  Mostly though, I am excited to spend my days with Sam – teaching him, loving him, laughing with him, and showing him the world.  You may not get to go to the farmers market or playgroup with us, but I invite you to laugh, learn, and share in our experiences right here.