When Maya and Jonah were little, I was young and very insecure.
I was 22 when I got pregnant with Maya and felt like I couldn’t be seen without my wedding ring in fear of people assuming I was a knocked up teenager. I was on a mission to prove that I could have a newborn and still make her entire summer wardrobe from scratch on my sewing machine. And, I refused to let my mother-in-law (with 6 children) bathe our baby in the kitchen sink because I thought it was unsanitary.
NONE of that (a) mattered, (b) made any sense, or (c) was a reliable indicator of whether you were a “good” parent or not.
While I love that I can now enjoy being a “young” parent of a college student, there are many things that I look back on and laugh at knowing how differently I would approach them 20 years later with young children all over again.
One of those things is this: I used to try and cover up my insecurities by playing the “breezy” parent.
I used to have babysitters show up asking what the kids should eat for dinner, what the bedtime routine is, etc. I was breezy until I realized that people really appreciate all of that “knowledge” and direction. While I was leaving them thinking I let them feel empowered to make their own decisions, they were left there feeling stranded and helpless not knowing how to make the night run smoothly.
I believe the same goes for most other areas in life: people appreciate a certain degree of instruction. That doesn’t mean I think people want to be “watched” all of the time and feel like they have no autonomy, but they also don’t typically want to be left in the dark with the expectation that they can do it 100% however they want to.
“Direction with wiggle room” is how I like to think of it, with wiggle room being confirmation that they can tweak things, feel supported to make decisions on the fly, and room to do things better in their own way.