Parenting. There’s no shortage of opinions and advice on this topic. I should know. I’ve spent the majority of my life (up until pretty recently) being a people pleaser. Although I don’t claim to be living without insecurity, there was something about turning 40 that diminished the importance I placed on what other people think. I read at least 20 parenting books when my daughter was born and sure, I learned a thing or ten, but in the end, parenting is a one of a kind piece of art. No two approaches are exactly alike and your heart and gut become the closest thing to a parenting bible you’ll ever find.

What has been important to me over the last 7 years has been that my child not only feels immensely loved but also heard. We have spent a great deal of time talking about choices when it would have been much quicker to say, “ya get what ya get and ya don’t throw a fit.” Having choices, whether it be what stuffed animal to sleep with or what vegetable to eat for dinner or a bath tonight or in the morning, gives her the opportunity to learn how to make decisions, which is what life is about every single day. From the moment we wake up we make choices about what to wear, eat, say, don’t say, etc., and based on those choices we create our life and our circumstances. It becomes clear rather quickly that bad choices lead to a not so great life. Obviously, if I choose to eat McDonalds on the way to work everyday I’m going to end up feeling bad and down the road have some health consequences to pay.

Now I’m the first to admit that I don’t always make good choices. Sometimes I speak when I should stay quiet or I eat the cake and feel terrible all day or I buy the shoes when I should have saved the money. But bad choices are inevitable and rightfully so, because it’s from the place of woulda, coulda, shoulda, that we learn and grow. So to me, giving Adeline choices means teaching her to create the life she wants and gives her a voice. If you’ve ever been in a position with a parent or a boss that made you feel like your opinion didn’t matter, you know the effect this has on your self worth. And self worth is the cornerstone of love and compassion for yourself and others, so it’s ridiculously important to leading an authentic, fulfilling life, and I want my kid to have ALL of that!

I didn’t give birth to a robot or a sheep. I gave birth to a free thinking, intelligent, unique, hilarious, creative, compassionate little girl. I don’t want her to blindly obey me or (God forbid) anyone else. I want her to think and question and experience consequences, both good and bad, that she can learn from. So when I used a phrase that I never use the other day her response was priceless. As I was backing out of the driveway my daughter started walking to the passenger window of the car. It made me nervous and I was in a hurry to get to work, so when I told her to back up and she asked why I said, “Because I said so.” She cocked her head sideways with a perplexed look on her face, and in a completely curious, unsassy kind of way replied, “Mom, that doesn’t make any sense.” And I knew in that moment that I was the proud parent of an independent thinker. It may not be a paved parenting path but I’ll take the bumpy long way any day if it means my kid, especially as a girl, finds her voice and her truth and is not afraid to live it!