Although it sometimes seems that in parenting, as in driving, a GPS is needed to guide us along the way, it may actually be that reaching the destination successfully requires fewer directions than we think. If we observe children without the childish gaze to which we are accustomed, we can see that they are autonomous people capable of solving their needs and that they do not need much more from their parents than their presence and accompaniment.
Óscar González, educational advisor: “What didn’t you like being done or said to you? Don’t repeat it because your son or daughter will feel just as bad”
In his latest book, Educate without GPS (Planeta), the teacher and trainer in education and upbringing, also the father of a large family, Ares González, talks about “educating by simplifying” and “educating in real life.” An anti-method for which it is not necessary to have bought the latest stroller model, although it may be very comfortable for the baby, or a bed at ground level, although it may favor their autonomy. What the teacher defends throughout the pages of this book is that the well-being of girls and boys depends largely on the ability of their parents to explore and develop their own motherhood and fatherhood. This task is not easy, to the social and advertising conditions is now added the ‘infoxication’: too many books, too many recipes, hundreds of manuals with the perfect parenting formula.
Talk about the need to educate in real life, how were we educating then until now?
A little under the laws of the market. The whole market and society leads us to things that are not necessary for our sons and daughters, and what the book does is put at the center what is necessary for the well-being of all members of the family. For example, ask ourselves: Do children have to know everything and sign up for a thousand extracurricular activities, or spend time with their parents? Well, the former prevails, but common sense says the latter.
He says that the absence of parents in upbringing causes greater dependence on children, instead of favoring their autonomy.
When we are absent we make our children survivors. Of what is available, they will take what they can, but to take or do the right thing they need someone to accompany their emotions and their thoughts. They need parents as a reference figure. The mere presence creates the bond that will give us security when we move away. If there is absence, we will generate dependency because the child feels insecure thinking that he or she has to ‘survive’.
What is the age when children are the most lost, or feel the most misunderstood?
The age at which they suffer the most misunderstanding by adults is that of two years, and especially when they have tantrums. When I speak of tantrums I define them, in fact, as a moment of misunderstanding of the world towards the child or of the child towards the world. In the latter case it is because he does not have the cognitive capacity to accept that things are not going to be as he wants. But the reality is that most of the time it is the world that does not understand the little one. We do not respect their ‘tempo’, we take them faster than their rhythms ask, they do not have regular dreams, they are tired, we offer them things or activities when it is not appropriate, we overstimulate them with screens … An example is when a baby is passing hand in the hand of a group of people and cries, at that very moment or perhaps later. Well, he cries because he has been frustrated with what he has lived through.
How to respect that ‘tempo’ of the child when parents have to make lace of impossible pieces to reconcile …
The stress that we live at a social level is suffered by all of us: those of us who have children and those who do not. In the end, a reflection that I like is that adults have an obligation to set limits to ourselves: if we have to work, we can’t watch all the movies we want, or if we want to take care of ourselves, we can’t eat everything we want. Well, it’s the same, when you are a father or mother you have to decide what you want and what you don’t want.
The system makes it difficult for us and we usually don’t realize it. We should make a list of what we do throughout the day and if it leads us to what we really want to achieve. For example, to write this book I had to take time away from other things, such as watching social networks. When we have children this distribution of time is complicated because we have many more demands on their part and all schedules are more rigid. .
In the book he says that when fatherhood or motherhood arrives “the person that we are is diluted”. Why is it important not to allow that to happen?
There is a natural evolution when you are a father or mother, by a kind of hormonal explosion, which takes you to a “state of infatuation” for a few months: you look at the baby all the time, you even notice how the little finger has moved or in how he breathes. And this, together with the fact that the baby needs a lot of attention and presence, makes us sometimes forget ourselves along the way. At some point you have to stop to ask yourself: ‘hey, the person that I was, who went to the gym, who went out to have a drink with friends, who went to dinner with his partner … where is he? When is the last time you went to the movies? It is convenient to go about making your life little by little because otherwise you will not be well. Raising requires a lot of effort and energy and if we are not well our children will not be either. The other day my son told me that he wanted to be with me that afternoon, but I told him that he couldn’t because he had to read, that I have other interests and it was my time. I began to read, and he began to read next to me. If they receive the example that we take care of ourselves, when they grow up they will take care of themselves, if not, no.
He speaks throughout the pages of being present in the lives of the children, of being happy, of being patient, of understanding them… But, what is the way of escape when we can no longer do it?
When you overflow, the best thing is to leave for a few minutes by your side, lower your emotions and return to reality. At some point we all feel like we can’t take it anymore because parenting is an intense moment, but it can have its wonderful parts or it can be an absolute suffering. That is why the book talks about enjoying, anticipating what is going to happen and having an attitude of ‘hey, we are here to enjoy and not to suffer’, and liberate ourselves.
What influence do external judgments have on that self-demand that we impose on ourselves and that does not allow us to enjoy? It has gone from ‘what will they say’ in neighborhood groups to ‘what will they say’ in WhatsApp groups of parents and other social networks.
What happens here, and we all have to admit it, is that from the time of birth, something so complex, and when you hold your child in your arms, you suffer tremendous fear and insecurity and you ask yourself: how do we get this forward now? You get external advice that tells you what and how you have to do things with your children. The first thing that conditions us is our culture of origin, how they have educated us. Then the 200 books that we read to each other because we are lucky to have a lot of information. And finally, how do they educate or what guidelines our friends follow. For example, in an environment where bottle feeding is normal, it may sound strange that you decide to breastfeed, and vice versa. They judge you. It depends a lot on the culture that surrounds the mother. We know much more than we did twenty years ago about what children need to grow up, now the challenge is to simplify it as much as possible.
We have left the influence of advertising …
Yes, the needs that we generate at the level marketing: the bathtub I don’t know what, the thermometer with light, the omega 3 milk powder with two thousand cereals, and a Montessori bed to promote their autonomy. But what our children need is actually much more basic. Regular sleep, food, presence, space to develop their autonomy, limits, and family well-being. We are getting needs that we do not have.
How to balance our presence with allowing them freedom to acquire autonomy, or unconditional love without falling into blind love?
Unconditional love is the one that is there regardless of what happens, and the blind person is the one who is not able to distinguish the needs of children with his own. A good exercise is to observe them. Sit next to them and watch, let them act. Sometimes, out of blind love, I don’t let him climb just one step, in case something happens to him, but the reality is that he has to do it because he has to explore. If we do the exploration for them, they will neither be autonomous nor will they learn. It is about being by the side and allowing them to develop their own capabilities. We in the classroom, for example, tell them: here are your clothes, change yourself.