What Does It Mean to Parent With Abandon?

I’ve started calling my parenting style Parenting With Abandon.

Parenting with abandon means taking all the worry and anxiety and stress and control and fear about parenting and throwing it into the wind. Just saying, “fuck it” and running unabashedly towards a life of joy and connection instead.

Sound crazy?

Sound unattainable?

That’s why I invented a name for it! “Abandon” is one of those words with layered meanings. It means to leave something or give it up. It also means a lack of inhibition, as in “she danced with wild abandon”.

Both meanings play into how I approach parenting.

Joyful Abandon

It’s easy to become caught up in the ostensible drudgery of family life. There’s always another dirty diaper. There’s always more laundry. There’s always another errand. There’s always another bill. Wake up. Feed people. Clean people. Clean things. Try to stay on track. Try to sleep. Repeat.

Somehow in the midst of this, children seem to have a good time. If I stop and take half a second to see the world through my child’s eyes, I am amazed at the magic and wonder that is there.

It’s hard to stay joyful, and it takes an uninhibited willingness to keep looking and keep trying to participate in the wild abandon of love, joy, and possibility that is life with a child.

Abandon Control

The opposite of joyful abandon is a restricted, scared feeling that holds tight to processes, rules, and obligations. It looks like trying to be in control and being afraid that I am failing.

Control is at the center of so much mainstream parenting. Children are seen as property that are to be molded and directed. Parents spend a lot of energy trying to figure out how best to control their children, make them do what they’re told, and make them into certain pre-approved kinds of people.

This is not the kind of parent I want to be.

I want to release that need for control.

I want to step gently into my relationship with my child, free of expectations and demands.

There is a lot of pressure on some parents these days to pay an extraordinary amount of attention to their children. Paying attention to their needs, feelings, and interests is great! Using your attention to micromanage their lives is not. I want to trust kids and give them access to their own worlds. I don’t think I need to have my eyes on my child all the time. I don’t need to know everything he does and thinks. I don’t need to control his environment all the time.

Know What Matters

When I’m seeking joyful abandon and seeking to abandon control, I ask myself, “What really matters?”

I center myself and imagine the things I want in my life, in my child’s life, and in our relationship together.

Joy – Play – Nourishment – Peace – Connection – Fullness – Flow – Love – Stillness – Cooperation – Balance – Laughter – Support

When I focus on these values, I feel calm. I feel the bond between myself and my child, and I feel confident in my choices and my path. It becomes easier to know what to do when I’ve gotten stuck.

Let Everything Else Go

Everything else, all the other details, I say to myself, “Let it go.”

Let it go.

Let it go.

Dishes in the sink, stains on the carpet, ketchup in his hair, loud noises, bedtimes, bath times, laundry, keeping to a schedule, educational activities, safety, being on time, homework, germs, money, “the future”, let it go let it go let it go.

When I let my fears and worries about all that stuff go, I find that magic really starts to happen right here, right now.

A Mantra For Carefree Parenting

“Seek joyful abandon. Abandon control. Know what matters. Let everything else go.”

I repeat that to myself when I need it. I remind myself to look for joy and wildness. To give up fear and control. To focus on my true values. To let everything else slide.

Wanna give it a try?

Parenting doesn't have to be all about worry, anxiety, fear, and control. It can be wild and carefree and full of joy.
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