What’s a Submarine Mama Anyway?

When my second son was 14 months old and we were at one of our favorite playgrounds, he saw his big brother go on the zip line and was then desperate to try. I was a little nervous at letting him have a go, as he was still so tiny but he was insistent, so I let him. He held on tight and knew exactly what do to so I relaxed and just enjoyed his joy. After telling someone this story, they said “so you’re like the opposite of a helicopter parent then? What would you call your parenting?” I thought for a second and the word submarine popped into my head, a perfect opposite to the word helicopter. 21951052_10155580533625281_1903608353752492173_oI am like a submarine in my parenting style. I stay under the surface watching through my periscope, only to emerge when there’s a real threat to my child. This doesn’t mean I’m not playing with my children or paying attention, simply that I believe they know what their own bodies are capable of, and that they are learning from every fall and failure. I know when to step in and when to step back, even if there’s a possibility for a small injury or two (and trust me there’s been many). My belief is you have to let your children take risks and you have to let them experience failure. How else will they learn how to overcome challenges or deal with the big emotions that come from not succeeding. I once watched my three year old try to walk along a slippery log, he fell every time he stood up. I could have stepped in but he was in no real danger besides a few scrapes and bruises. He got angry and he got frustrated but he dealt with his emotions and, after some thinking, decided on crawling across. When he got to the end the smile on his face would’ve made you think he’d just won the Olympics. I could have stepped in but I chose not to, I let him try and I let him take risks. From that twenty minute experience he learnt how to embrace and deal with tough emotions, to not give in when things get tough, what his body’s limits were, and to problem solve when he wasn’t reaching his goal. All this just from having the opportunity to play on a slippery log with no interruptions of “careful” or “don’t fall.”21752801_10155549836830281_3173835196301644759_o (1)So if you don’t feel like you practice a submarine style of parenting I encourage you to give it a go. I know it is difficult to see our kids fall, fail, or hurt and to watch them in situations where you can see an accident waiting to happening. But if your child is safe from serious injury let them play, let them explore, and let them test their limits, in my opinion it’s the best life lesson you could give. So long live climbing, jumping, falling, and playing with sticks and rocks. Bring back wildhood and try some submarine parenting next time you are out with your child.