Hold their hand only when they need it.
The world is beautiful and human beings are a marvel of nature! As soon as Laurier, my little runner-up, arrived, I put on my rose-coloured glasses and decided to trust life, my children, but also and above all my instincts and my skills as a mother. It's so easy to find oneself in the role of mother hen and start fearing the worst for our offspring. Fear of wounds, fear of germs, fear of strangers, fear of being afraid of what! Like most parents, the safety of my children is a top priority for me. However, time and experience (that's a good way of saying that I'm getting older, but it's a positive thing!) have made me realize that keeping my children safe doesn't necessarily mean that I have total control over their actions or that their environment is aseptic. Living with my little ones made me realize that keeping them away from all dangers was not the way to ensure their safety. I was tempted to control everything when Louis, my first child, arrived. I really thought that was my role as a mother, but life soon made me realize that one would exhaust me, two would not make it, and three would deprive my children of an incredible amount of learning that was essential for their healthy development. That by continuing to do so, my child would miss out on learning that is essential to his or her true safety. Don't think that I now let my children play near waterways without supervision or with old rusty nails. Far be it from me to put my children in danger, but I think a little scratch teaches them a lot. Rather, I try to ensure that their environment is adapted to their level of development and their ability to detect and measure risk. Maria Montessori said, "It's not a question of leaving the child to do what they want, but of preparing an environment where they can act freely. "It's not a small task, but it's a parenting challenge that I find very rewarding. Following this observation, I made some changes in my way of thinking and doing. I was lucky enough to have 5 children, so I can tell you that Raoul, the latest addition, evolves under the attentive gaze of an experienced Zen mother! After having read the works of several psychologists and philosophers of education, each one more interesting than the other, I realized that the thing I had to act on for my children to be safe was none other than themselves. In other words, I had to train my children to recognize risks and give them the tools to protect themselves from danger. Eve Hermann calls it "helping children to live" and I find this formulation so par-fai-te! Unfortunately, we, as parents, are not equipped with an autonomy detector and determining whether our child is autonomous enough to move to the next level is no easy task. I have found only one way to do this: to observe my children. I have spent an enormous amount of time observing them WITHOUT intervening, just to see what their first reflexes are, their first reactions to certain situations. I let them put themselves in riskier positions, being close by to intervene of course. These moments of observation allow me to know where my child is in his development, and what freedom he is able to obtain. As Alice Mariette so aptly wrote in the last issue of Planet F Magazine, the question to ask is: "Does my child have the necessary skills to assume the independence or freedom of action that I am about to give him or her? Observing my children has also allowed me to see that they are not doing anything that poses a real risk to them. Surprisingly, I don't have to worry about them trying to climb to a risky place. Their ability to detect inappropriate situations and their awareness of their own limitations surprises me. I know that I can trust them and that they know their limits. In return for this trust, they don't try to rebel or do inappropriate things as soon as my back is turned. That's how Simone 4 years old crossed a small river (very shallow anyway!) on a tree trunk. Dad built a hebertism track on which she practiced long before she got there. That's also how Louis 8 years old got his bicycle permit to go for a walk alone in a restricted area around the house. Of course, we did a lot of rides with him beforehand to learn the rules of bicycle safety, and he had to take a test to get there (I'll share this little test with you in the "little tricks" section of our website). None of my children get a new freedom because they are old enough now. Freedom comes when my observations and evaluation show me that they are ready to do it. But beware, based on my observations and OBJECTIVE evaluation, and not on my fears, my worries or the opinions of the people around me. They are beautiful to see in their evolution, in the development of their autonomy. Because I know that I have given them the knowledge and skills to be able to take care of themselves, I can trust them, and that trust gives them wings. It shows!