Recently in my parent/infant class (under 12 months) a mother said that she had become so committed to free movement that she was feeling very guilty when her child had spent too much time in the car because she was driving around doing errands. The feeling was strong enough that she had cut the number of errands and gone home to get her baby out of the car seat.
I am just thrilled when I hear this because it means to me that something has shifted in the parent. They have read and heard enough about the philosophy of free movement that they can really feel what it means and how to support their child as much as possible in his need to be free from containers.
Throughout the rest of the day I smiled each time I thought about what this mother had said. Then I realized another thing that people regularly say to me that makes me really happy to hear. It usually goes something like this “I spent most of this week letting my son initiate interaction with me.” Ah, this is music to my ears. It’s such a shift from our typical way, culturally, of relating to children. We always think we need to smile, laugh, talk, teach, stimulate and entertain children that we are almost always “in their face.” Do you have any idea how freeing this is to a child to be given freedom enough that he can determine what he does with his mind/body/emotions until he decides that he would like to interact with us?
Magda Gerber called it “wants nothing time” and it’s one of the favorite of all the expressions I’ve learned from her. We are there if our children need us but we are fine with where they are and letting them decide what they want do. We honor their decision making. We are not building better babies. We are supporting them in their plan to develop. They have all they need. They have an inner director they are learning to listen to. To the extent we allow them to develop the ability to listen to this inner director, we have set them free.
My mentor Janet Lansbury writes beautifully about this and more here.