Are you a warm blanket? I’m not. I’m a patchwork blanket that got stuck in the dryer. I’m a little torn, and rather worn out in places, but my preschooler still carries me around.
What are I talking about when I talk about a warm blanket? I’m talking about someone who creates a nurturing atmosphere in the home. When you walk into a house and someone offers you a cup of tea, you sit down in front of a warm fire, and you get served dinner. That’s a warm blanket. When there’s nothing you can’t do because there are always unlimited resources, that’s a warm blanket. When you feel like a hug is always just around the corner, that’s a warm blanket. When everything is always organized for you, that’s a warm blanket too.
I know people who are warm blankets. Entering their homes makes me feel reassured and loved. I feel very, very comfortable, and I could stay there forever. My daughter knows warm blankets too. She loves them. As a preschooler, especially one who is having some separation anxiety, a warm and nurturing environment is very important to her.
Is there hope for those of us who are not warm blankets, though? Well, as someone who is much more of a frayed patchwork than a warm blanket, I’d like to think that preschoolers need a bit of a balance. I am nurturing and I am definitely organized, but I am definitely not a warm blanket. To put a positive spin on it, let’s call me a step stool. One of those things that you drag out when you need to get something that’s far, far away on a high shelf. It’s an enabler, but you’re doing the work of climbing it.
I grew up with a step stool mom. She worked more than full time. We had to become self-reliant – I babysat my younger brother and sister when I was in late elementary school. I walked them to school. Later, each of us has become a world traveler. I believe that asking my daughter to do activities for herself has nurtured her self-reliant streak. When she says she’s hungry, I tell her to go find a piece of fruit to eat. She washes the fruit and gets it herself. Of course, she’s only four. I do make her a hot breakfast, a snack for preschool and I make her dinner every night. But I like to think that my step stool personality will help her become an independent and organized person. Yes, I love her and nurture her, but I also leave her some space to find her own way. I hope that she will grow into a person who values hugs, kisses, and a warm blanket, but who also values self reliance.
Where do you fit along the parenting spectrum? Do you think that being very nurturing is compatible with independence, or is there a balance?