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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mountain Lion Mom

The Lion Mom philosophy on parenting is one of many child rearing philosophies. There are many "right" ways to parent and even more "wrong" ways. Parents need to be open to both new and old ideas, constantly shifting their philosophy as new knowledge is learned. I support all mothers in the seemingly infinite sisterhood of moms. I have yet to meet a mom who isn't giving it all she has to provide the best for her children.

First, I must state that I am a lion. I am Canadian, so I guess that means I am a mountain lion. I'd call myself a cougar but that has taken on a whole new context lately.
A lion mom believes the most important factor in raising children is to teach them personal responsibility. A lion mom believes dabbling in many pots while young is better than soaking in one pot. A lion mom teaches the child to think rather than obey. The child's happiness is paramount. Lion moms don't micro-manage their children. They teach their children that ultimately they (the child) will be the drivers in their own lives and need to learn self-managing skills.

The most important aspect of lion mothering is modeling. Do as I do. If you want your child to be active--demonstrate an active lifestyle by being active yourself. If you want your child to be interested in music--take up an instrument or join a band yourself. If you want your child to be a reader--find something you enjoy reading and read it! If you want your child to enjoy sports--find a sport you enjoy and do it!
If you want your child to grow up to be an adult who sits in bleachers watching other people be active--sit in bleachers and watch your child be active all week. This isn't to say you shouldn't attend your child's team games and support your child. But if your activity is limited to driving your child to and from the child's activities and sitting in the bleachers watching the child hour after hour--well that is who your kid will be modeling--the parent who chauffeurs and sits for a hobby.

Show your child how a happy adult with a balanced life, lives. Be the adult you want your child to be.

If a mother spends her life micro-managing a child's life, trying to create a genius, Olympian or celebrity (without developing a rich, autonomous life for herself) not only will the child turn into a micro-managing parent but the mother herself will fall into a vacuum when the child leaves home. She'll have no life (this is true for fathers too but I am talking about lion  moms for now). Either she'll sell up and move to wherever her child decides to move or she'll be miserable and guilt the child into coming home more often than the child desires.

If parents have one or even two children--it is easy to micro manage without feeling overwhelmed. The relative ease at which one can micro-manage the child may lull one into thinking this type of parenting works. But add a third child to the mix and there is no time for micro-managing--the whole system falls apart.

 Lion parents don't micro-manage, they model, support, encourage and set realistic boundaries.

What does this all mean?
Music lessons--the child is encouraged and reminded but not forced to practice religiously.
Homework--encouraged, parent takes an interest and then the child is reminded to tackle the tasks.
Competition--(in dance and music) not encouraged until the child is a teenager at the earliest.
Team sports--encouraged but competitive try outs and excessive weekly hours of time devoted to the sport is too much and unnecessary. Sports are for fun.

Instead of putting the child in one or two things and devoting all one's time into creating a genius in that area, lion moms encourage letting the child do what they love even when it means sampling many fields and never becoming an expert in one. In Western society it has become all about competition and expertise in one area. Look at my child! She's been studying this since age 2. She is a genius in this one area!
What is expertise after all? A brain balanced and developed in many areas is healthier than having a brain master one area exclusively.

A happy childhood, full of experimentation and freedom to create and play is the most important thing.
One is building a balanced, happy mind for the child. And the child learns that their choices will either lead them to happiness or suffering.

A lion mom believes all children have the potential to be an expert in one or more areas but it is too early to force exclusive, painful, competitive practice sessions on that growing brain, developing mind. Be gentle with that budding genius--let her/him explore her/his world with a little guidance but not rigid competition, schedules and exclusive focus.

This does not mean a free for all. This means a mom must encourage, take an interest in the child's choices and remind the child when necessary. Suggestions and helping the child format a schedule for completing tasks is often needed. But sooner rather than later, the child learns the effort that they put into a project (area of interest), the greater the results.
And of course, lion moms set basic safety and health boundaries like any mother: bed time rituals, healthy diet , etc. Perhaps lion moms are even slightly more vigilant in these areas because a healthy body is necessary for  a healthy mind. Modeling healthy habits encourages children to develop their own healthy habits .

You may not raise an Olympic champion (unless you yourself model Olympic champion behavior and habits) but you will raise an intelligent, happy child.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Unknown said...

Great ideas Melissa!!!

April 12, 2012 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger Mix Hart said...

Thank-you. I thought they weren't half-bad myself ;)

April 12, 2012 at 9:32 PM  

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