You are not raising a child to become a child. You are raising a child to become an adult.
I think about that all the time. I don’t shy away from letting him help in the kitchen so that one day he can cook on his own. I ask him to clean his own bathroom at the age of six (although I always have to go back in while he’s sleeping to sanitize). We never kept things as “off limits”. No cabinets locked. I let him explore it all so he could learn what things were and what delicate things are and what dangerous is. Obviously I wouldn’t put anything lethal in front of him… but I’m sure you understand.
I don’t shield my personality. He sees me as I am always. And if I’m sad I talk to him about it and so when he is sad he can explain why he is sad too. If I’m happy I tell him so he knows to let people know when he’s happy. I make sure to thank him when he does good deeds and when he’s helpful. And I make sure to tell him to be proud of himself every time he accomplishes something no matter how big or small. We talk about politics and god and finances and business and time and and and…
I think people a lot of times get so caught up in thinking their children should stay children but why should their transition into adulthood be brutal? Why not teach them the wonders and worries of the world while they’re young so that they can be prepared?
I am NOT saying be strict or to let them be horrified. There’s obviously stages of growth and what’s appropriate. We have two rules in our house. Always be kind and always tell the truth. Our house is always filled with neighbors kids and summers he spends swimming every day with friends. He is allowed to still be a kid, but just like he can not lie in our house nor will I lie to him – he asks a question and he will get the real answer no matter what.
Kids know a lot more than you’d think. I have been lucky enough to have enough adult conversation with a six year old that when his friends say something wild or racy or outlandish he comes to me seeking truth. What better position for a parent to be than to have a child who can openly talk to his or her parents? He’s asked me some very serious questions I wouldn’t have ever come to my parents with at his age.
He is still very young so only time will tell if it’s been the best advice, but for now I have a healthy happy trilingual, guitar playing, breakfast cooking, A+, weightlifting badass son who’s teachers and classmates adore him. Because he’s real. He is always kind and he almost always ( I mean he’s six he still pushes boundaries) tells the truth.