At 11 months and a few days, I declared my kid a walker. Having never crawled and only very reluctantly pulled himself up to stand, I reflected on his somewhat unusual developmental path. Particularly, I wondered, how much did my parenting style, shape his developmental path versus how much of it was simply him doing his own thing? Unfortunately, this is probably a question that I’ll ask myself over and over through the parenting journey, and one that I will never be able to answer. My mother had an interesting although somewhat enigmatic reflection on the matter: the only reason for guilt is to recognize your impact on others.
As I go forward parenting, I will try to be a bit more aware of my impact on my son. It’s not that up to now I did not know what a huge impact parents have on their kids, but this was simply the first time I saw my potential impact so clearly. I could have shaped my son’s environment to be more encouraging of crawling: letting him fuss more before picking him up, putting more toys out of reach, etc, and he might have learned to crawl. It’s not particularly important that he didn’t learn to crawl, but realizing the enormous influence that we have as parents IS important. From our words to the toys we buy, we shape the environment from which our children build their understanding of the world. In a heavily Montessori influenced fashion, I try to observe my son’s interests and needs and shape his environment to aid his development. But at his current age, the most overpowering element of his environment is… me. So the question to ponder is: what unconscious impacts are we having on our children? And are any of these impacts so strong that they might in time inhibit our children from becoming their true selves?
To end on a lighter note, my little one is still quite a wobbling walker, and so he thoroughly enjoys pushing around a little walker wagon. And I’m excited too for a summer of carting items around! He’s already pushed our picnic snack outside, and he sometimes throws his favorite toys in the wagon. I’m hoping soon his nana will let him help with the garden by carting around rocks and weeds! But we will see where the little one’s interests take us!