Don’t call CPS or anything; I keep the booze and medication out of reach, but there definitely are a few things I let my little ones do that might make other moms give me the side eye. These are my favorites, but I’m sure there are others!
- Use knives/scissors/other sharp objects: No, I’m not giving the 1-year-old an Xacto or anything like that, of course. But, starting from when she was about 2-and-a-half, I’ve let my older daughter use plastic knives to cut things. We started out with easy, soft, relatively flat stuff (for example, cutting butter into pats for toast), and at this point she can de-stem and slice strawberries. Good thing, too, since another thing I let my kids do is…
- Cook: I know so many adults who don’t know how to cook! As a result, many of them began to suffer from health and financial problems once they left their parents’ house. Between that motivation for ensuring my kids’ future fiscal solvency and my own love of cooking and food, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone that starting from the 1 year mark, my kids are helping me in the kitchen. Admittedly, there are quite a few months at the beginning where helping consists mainly of tearing lettuce for salad, but I still think it’s important (and fun!) for them to know where the food comes from. At 4, my big girl has already used the stove (with supervision), and other than the tricky wrapping part, she can make a damn fine breakfast burrito.
- See me naked: I consider this a no-brainer. If I want my girls to be comfortable with the way their bodies will change, I should at least let them see what they will change into! The pro-nudity stance also makes bath time less stressful – I don’t worry about getting splashed, I can climb in along with my kid when it’s time to wash hair, etc.
- Pick out their own clothes: Sometimes this means that my kid wears shorts, flip-flops, a heavy, winter coat, and a knit hat. Sometimes she goes for a week wearing jammies. This is Not My Problem, even when other kids and/or their moms make snarky remarks.
- Ask the hard questions: The 4-year-old knows that grownups have sex, and that sex is one way that grownups make babies. She knows that some kids are adopted. She knows that some men are married to women, some are married to men, and some women are married to other women. She knows that sometimes grownups who love each other don’t get married. She knows that everyone dies. She knows that not everyone believes the same things that her dad and I believe about religion. She knows this stuff because she asked, and I gave her truthful (if somewhat simplified) answers. This, as you might expect, makes for some super awkward grocery store moments.
All these things work for our family, but I definitely don’t think they work for everyone! What are some interesting parenting decisions you’ve made?