When I think about what parenting really is, the first thing that springs to mind is ‘raising aliens’. That’s all we, as parents, are really doing. I used to think that it was like having a dog. You feed and water them, take them for walks, clean up after them and try to get them to listen to some simple instructions. But it’s really not like that at all. We are raising aliens.
But, my kid isn’t an alien?
Of course, I’m not saying that children ARE actually aliens. But it certainly helps as an idea to keep in mind when parenting. Imagine you (an alien) arrive on a strange planet. You don’t know the rules but everybody else expects you to just follow them automatically. Would you prefer somebody who gently guided you as you navigate this new world, or would you prefer somebody who dishes out punishments every time you break a rule that nobody ever told you about in the first place?
Not all aliens are the same
Raising aliens won’t be the same experience for everybody. There is not a single ‘right way’ to parent. I was reminded of this last week when B received his first pair of glasses.
For months, I kept asking if he could see properly and he said ‘Yes, I can see fine.’ but I wasn’t convinced. As soon as children were allowed out of lock down we headed to the ophthalmologist who declared “he needs glasses” before his bum had even touched the seat. During that appointment, he realised that the world he thought he knew and saw was not the same world that everybody else sees. Once his glasses were ready and he went outside for the first time he said to me “I didn’t know I was this tall or that the buildings were so big!” and my heart broke a little. I nearly sent him out into the world without making sure he could see it properly. Glasses are the tool he needs to navigate the world around him.
I firmly believe it is our job as parents to equip our children’s with the tools they survive in the ‘real world’. Just like we would equip an alien with the tools necessary to navigate a strange, new world.
Which is why I am proud to announce that I am launching my very own parenthood podcast: Raising Aliens on Patreon. The first official episode comes out this Sunday!