Making a Rod for your own back is probably one of the most limiting parenting phrases. Intrinsically it means that you can’t do anything as a temporary measure and get away with it, that what your baby wants today they will always want. That somehow your baby or child is inflexible and so routine led that they won’t be able to adjust to new ways of being. Happily the opposite is true. Good parenting is about trial and error, it’s about working in the dynamic relationship between you and your child to get to know them and let them get to know you. What worked last week might not work this week. You might have ideas about how you want to parent, only to discover that your child has different ideas about how they wish to be parented. So what do we do? Do we keep on doing what we always did? Do we stick to a philosophy or a way of being with our child that we feel invested in? Or can we be prepared to keep starting afresh?
If we see children’s behaviour as a communication then we can come to get a deep understanding about them as a whole person and see beyond their changing needs. Sometimes as parents we can put our ideas, our judgments, the advice, the books and our own childhoods to one side to be really curious about this new person in front of us. We can try out lots of different ways of being with our child, they are not polite, they will let us know if it works for them. It’s obvious that a child’s needs are always changing because they are always developing, but that fact is easy to forget especially when they do something you hadn’t planned for or didn’t see coming or if you have become comfortable with the way things are. So let’s celebrate change and meeting children’s needs as they arise because the only rod for any parents back is holding onto how things have been when their child communicates that they need things to change.