In addition to respect, one of the other main tenants of the RIE® method is authenticity.
How can we define authenticity?
According to the dictionary, it is something that is real or true.
It could also mean the genuine truth of something or one that doesn’t have to play or fulfill a role.
According to RIE®, an authentic child is one that feels “secure, autonomous, competent, and connected.”
I think we can all agree that it would be amazing to raise kids with those characteristics.
And it makes sense, doesn’t it?
If we truly see, observe and ultimately accept our children for who they are and not what we want, wish or expect them to be, then the door opens for a real, meaningful and deep relationship and connection.
Children could be exactly who they are and we can be exactly who WE are. Because it’s not just about our kids, it’s about us as well.
We don’t have to dampen or deny our true selves and emotional states because ultimately, it’s dishonest and inauthentic. Everyone is entitled to being truthful about who they are and how they feel and can communicate this in an open and respectful way.
Some of my greatest relief and most powerful moments of being a mother is when I acknowledged to my daughter that I was frustrated with her behavior or exhausted from her night wakings. It took some practice because at first I thought I had to be positive and awesome and happy all the time. But that’s neither real, nor true or authentic. I wasn’t giving my daughter the gift of really seeing me.
If my intention was to set the tone of authenticity in my home and family environment, it was up to me to model by example. And so I did, in an age appropriate way, using language that she could understand while also acknowledging her and her emotions so we both were validated and heard.
Just imagine the freedom children would grow up with knowing they will be loved, adored, cherished and respected for being exactly who they are and not who they’ve been trained, manipulated or forced to be? What an impact it would have on their level of confidence as well as their perspective on the world.
But also imagine how would you feel as a parent knowing you don’t have to be perfect, that you can show your emotional range to your kids in a way that teaches them it’s ok to feel all kinds of feelings? Imagine the power you would give them by taking ownership of the authentic expression of who you are and the permission you would give them to do the same.
It would humanize us for our kids so they begin to recognize we are real people with real feelings outside the role of parents while encouraging them to be ok with who they are too.
I think the very fabric of our world would look vastly different if we all practiced a bit more responsibility around authenticity!
We would all be able to develop a wide repertoire of self-expression encompassing all the complexities of being human. We would then discover the magic and wonder that exists inside each of us and be willing and open to sharing it with others.
So if we encourage and accept our children as themselves while also doing the same for ourselves, it becomes a win-win for all those involved.
Even though RIE is meant for infants, there principles can be applied to all relationships regardless of age. Because it feels good to be honest with ourselves and honor how we feel rather than trying to fit a mold of other people’s expectations. Doing so just leaves us feeling resentful and inadequate.
As adults, society has taught to wear so many masks so that we can become masters at pretending so it takes some work to break these generational patterns. But wouldn’t it be amazing to not pass on this type of harmful and outdated programming on to our kids?
So let’s aim to practice becoming comfortable and accepting with our child’s as well as our own authentic expression of self.
The RIE® approach sums it up well:
“When we help a child to feel secure, feel appreciated, feel that “somebody is deeply, truly interested in me,” by the way we just look, the way we just listen, we influence that child’s whole personality, the way that child sees life.”
That my friends, is true parenting power.