Friday, January 22, 2010

Does Your "Stairs Rule" Reflect Your Parenting Style?

We encourage babies to climb stairs in our house. Well, maybe encourage is too strong a word, but we do allow them to explore the steps. I know that not all parents do this. My sister-in-law, for example, painstakingly disciplines her little ones when they go towards the steps.


I was thinking of these differences the other day and realized that this small difference in parenting styles just may carry over to the rest of our philosophy with our children. Before you slap a "bad parent" label on me, let me explain.

When a little one starts to go up the stairs in our household, we tell them to "wait for Mommy (or Daddy)" and we go behind them. If they slip on the steps, we are right there to catch them. That way, in our thinking, they are getting practice for going up the stairs when they truly are ready to do it on their own.

My sister-in-law and her husband feel that the steps are dangerous and should be avoided completely until their children are able to navigate them alone. I'm not sure exactly how they have made the transition, but all of their children are now able to go up and down the stairs perfectly fine by themselves.

Am I going to give you the correct parenting technique for teaching your children to go upstairs? Of course not! Besides the fact that I am in no position to give advice, each family has different values and goals for their children. Of course, as Christian parents, all of us want to train our children and help them get to Heaven. The end result is clearly in mind. The path to take is much more individual.

Our "upstairs with parent behind you" philosophy is our path for all of our parenting. We feel that a child needs to experience real life challenges with the parent alongside to protect or rescue as needed.

My sister-in-law's philosophy is to protect the child from real life until they are prepared for it, then send them to navigate it themselves.

Other parents I know would take a "no help at all on the stairs" approach and still others would carry their children up the stairs even after they are able to do it themselves.

The timing of when your child goes upstairs alone is immaterial. The timing of when they are allowed to experience real life may be important. I cannot say which is correct. That is between you and God.

Incidentally, the only time one of our babies has fallen down the steps has been when he or she was in my husband's or my arms. Although the child gave a fearful cry, the only bumps and bruises gained were on one of us.

It kind of reminds me of my Heavenly Father--through all the fear of falling, I can rest on Him because He was bruised for me. My stair climb to Heaven must always be with my Father beside me, ready to steady me if I slip.

What about you? What is your "stairs rule"? Does it reflect how you parent your children in other areas?


  1. Great analogy! There are many variables in parenting including the mother's, father's, and child's personality! But it's true we all have one goal - to honor God and lead our children to a life of honoring God.

    I wrote on parenting today too - on "My Mom - My Role Model" Here:

    You might want to link your post up to Kristi at "Run Watch Play Wait" today - she's doing a Parenting McLinky - click on the Fresh Start button at the bottom of my post and it will take you to her site and the McLinky.

    Have a great day!

  2. Great post. It really shows the diversity in parenting styles. We all may go about parenting a different way but the end result becomes the same...a child able to walk up a flight of stairs on their own.