Tuesday, October 13, 2009

traveling with continuum kids

Travelling with continuum kids
I am a woman who loves to roam the planet … smelling the different smells, tasting the different tastes and feeling all that is new and different to feel. I am also a mama who wants her children to experience freedom and who also wants them to develop self-confidence, kindness and generosity. So how does the traveller continue to travel when she is also a mama like me?
Yesterday I took a flight with my little sweetheart; leaving home at 9am and arriving at my destination 12 hours later. This 12 hours included long and restricting car rides, extended periods of time stuck in small and very unexciting airports and hours on small planes with mostly men (great for breast feeding!) and a very, very tired child.
Watching my 13 month old daughter as she navigated all the physical restrictions put upon her, (like limited spaces and seat belts) I developed an even deeper respect for her… her ability to be totally in the moment and to find freedom even in the most confined spaces just astounded me.
As for me, the woman who loves to roam… well she just wanted to go home!
This mama read the continuum concept for the first time over 19 years ago and with each child thereafter I have consciously parented with the continuum concept as my guide and friend. It has been and continues to be a beautiful and practical way for me to parent but yesterday as I watched my little sweetheart wriggling her way out of her seatbelt with a very loud voice and finding amusement by crawling into the tiny space under my seat and grabbing the gentleman’s feet behind me (much to his disgust and I must admit mine), I started to question just how the parenting methods from the depths of the Amazon can ever really be adapted to a life of roaming when the majority of people you come across when travelling by plane are not happy with a loud albeit happy child who likes to roam the isle, say hello as she passes and share the meal that you have been waiting for since you first found yourself in this squashed and super unnatural environment.
So many questions and a lot of confusion came to mind as I struggled with the obvious judgement I felt coming from the other passengers due to my apparently “whacky” parenting and the animosity that I faced in that very confined public space as I continued to allow my little one to deal with the restrictions and confinement she found herself in, in the most comfortable way she could.
Ok so I admit a lot of the issues are my own especially when it comes to being judged by others (I wonder where I got those issues from!) and I am happy to say I am working on that…but how to protect the little ones from developing those very issues themselves when sooner or later that glare or ugly stare from the ‘other’ turns away from me and turns toward my little one…How do we raise our kids along the lines of the continuum concept in a society where kids are still meant to be seen and not heard and where freedom and self confidence are not appreciated?


  1. As a nomad I wonder too about our future travelling adventures.

    As for helping our children not develop issues with judgment, i think that has to come from us first and foremost. Loving them unconditionally, not judging them as 'good' or 'bad'.
    But fo other people, well, I haven't been in that situation yet, but I'm ready.
    If my girl gets a disapproving glare when she is doing what I judge as a normal child's behaviour, then I will tell her - 'you're okay honey, that lady is having a bad day today'. Or something like that.

    I don't want her to feel she needs to conform when she's just being normal, but I also don't want her to feel superior to other people, or put in another way, I would like her to have compassion for others.

    btw, my girl gets car-sick - thank you universe!!!! :)

  2. mon, i guess it is that whole thing about what one person considers normal another person thinks is insane!
    i really want my little cherub to feel free and confident...which is easier at home i guess....this brings up so many questions about traveling for me.
    i just keep reminding myself that she chose us for a reason!

  3. Wow, now you left something for ME to digest! I actually do struggle with this a bit. I feel a line has to be drawn somewhere, but I don't always know where that line is. It would be nice if people were just more accepting of children being children. I let my boy "get away with" more than I see other moms letting their babies or toddlers do. I don't care if they think I'm insane for letting him climb up on stuff, or if he wants to go up to strangers and talk to them. But I'm not going to let him tear things off the shelf at the grocery store, either. My issue isn't about feeling judged, but that I am very aware of how people around me feel, and I want to be courteous to them. Which is great, I think, as long as you don't sacrifice your child's wellbeing for the sake of someone else's comfort.

  4. Yes, this really is tricky for me...how to let them explore their surroundings and their boundaries without becoming totally oblivious to others. A balancing act of freedom and consideration, is this even possible or does one cancel out the other?

  5. I agree with Lisa, I DO believe in being considerate of others. I've seen plenty of 'permissive' mothers feel that their little angel has the right to do ANTHING regardless of how unpleasant it is for everyone else.

    However, being polite comes down the list of my priorities. Secondly, the child's age is vital. Under 3 is close to a free-for-all, lol, not really, but you know, as long as she isn't invading someone else's space or causing havoc.
    After that they begin to develop a small level of empathy, so can understand if you tell them so-and-so needs to sleep, or needs quiet. But I wouldn't expect too much from under 5s.

  6. p.s I can't see a contact email for you - if you'll like help with the Thankful anyway button, you can email me monb1970 (at) gmail (dot) com

  7. Ah yes...the dreaded Glare. :) This has been a very tricky issue for me, especially with my youngests..um...quirks. *grin*. I think this very thing is what has us leaning dangerously toward hermitude at times...because it's so much easier to be *us* at home...:)

    Finding that balance between freedom and consideration of others can be hard sometimes, especially when other peoples expectations of how children *should* behave is radically different from your own....

    With my oldest, (almost 7) we talk about sharing space with other people and how other peoples *ways* are different than ours....and how we sometimes have to go along to get along..but only if it's something really important - like not climbing on the displays at the museum ;) Like Mon suggests, we chalk other peoples frowns and disapproval to them having a bad day...perhaps they're grumpy or tired or hungry -- just like we get.

    I'm also a firm believer in never expecting more from my kids than they can handle...if a situation is going to be too restricting to the way we like to do things, then we make other arrangements. ie.I won't force them to sit through a stuffy birthday dinner at a country club for their great-grandfather....we'll do something else to honour his day instead.....

    A wonderful and thought-provoking post...

  8. Just caught this post, great conversation, I struggle with this too, especially because my three are all close together (a 5 year old and 3 year old twins) and bounce off each other to be even more rambunctious as a group than individually...and I just like to be out, it is in my nature, and we live in an urban area (most of the time) so are always around others when we are out...I get ALOT of disapproving stares, let me tell you, even though I do have pretty set boundaries for their behavior when we are out and would probably be considered somewhat 'mainstream' in my parenting approach (well, mainstream for California anyway, which might be considered wacky elsewhere, I don't know....certainly my mid-western family considers me very permissive)...anyway, it is helping me develop a thick skin...

  9. I hear you mommymystic and I know what you mean about developing a thick skin...it is one of those great protection mechanisms that I learnt to use a long time ago! But on reflection, what are we teaching our little ones when we do this?? I believe our babies/children are so energetically connected to us, picking up on all our very subtle mood changes and energy shifts so by doing we do when we develop a thick skin, are we teaching our little ones to do the same? Is that Ok? maybe yes, maybe no...I am just tossing around some thoughts...Thanks for triggering off that line of thinking for me:)

  10. Hi! Great topic, though I feel late to the conversation and many have already echoed what I would say...

    I try to minimize our exposure to unrealistic expectations and I try to coach my kids (they're six and three) when we find ourselves in a situation or with people who expect a certain type of behavior. An example for us would be swearing or saying "i will cut your head off" -- I explain that for some people it would be very upsetting to hear those words and out of consideration for them, I ask them to not say them.

    One thing I hear you expressing in this post is a worry about how these compromises might damage or distort our children's character... Is that so?

    It has taken me a long time to get to this place (and I will probably move in and out of it over time) but lately I am just knowing in my heart how profound our parental influence is on children, and I am feeling amazed and nourished by that. Almost all of my children's behavior is rooted in the way we relate to each other on a day-to-day basis.

    So I think 1) examining why you act certain ways in certain situations, 2) questioning whether or not you want to continue to be in those situations, and 3) talking to kids about why you are making the choices you are making can go a long way toward helping them understand how to keep their own autonomy intact in various situations. On top, of course, of continuing to honor their autonomy in your daily lives together.