The Difficult Side of Montessori Parenting

Building your child's

Montessori has made parenting easier in many ways but it can also be a hard and lonely path.  I feel like this side is not discussed enough and so I’m sharing my own feelings about it. I think the word that describes what makes it hard for me is fight. It sometimes seems like I’m in a constant fight.

  • A fight against our default inclinations: Like most Montessori or positive parents, I am trying to parent differently from the way I was raised. I usually try to understand what drives my children’s behaviors and respond respectfully. However, during stressful times, I have to fight the desire to default to the way I was raised. Yelling, threatening or punishing feel like an easier path in those moments.
  • A fight against guilt: Sometimes we don’t win the fight against our default inclination and then we have to fight guilt. In the middle of yelling or responding to a request with “No!” Or asking “what is wrong with you!” All my knowledge and understanding of the child and the ideal way to deal with the situation would flash through my mind and I would feel intense guilt. I would feel like I’m failing them and failing myself.
  • A fight against other people’s opinions and advice: I sometimes feel judged even when nothing is said. Parenting differently does that to you… or maybe it’s just me. People make suggestions that go against my parenting choices and I feel like they are condemning, like I have to defend or justify my choices. Then I question myself… constantly. Am I doing this right? Maybe I’m failing them.
  • A fight for my children: “Actually it’s normal behavior for this stage”,  “they are usually not like this. I really don’t know what’s wrong with them.”…  I find myself making excuses for them, explaining in advance when they don’t act “perfectly” or to the expectations of others.
  • A fight against the urge to compare them to other children: This can range from comparing them to children who are being raised or educated traditionally to other Montessori children on social media. Some examples for me are meeting a child who is the same age as my child who maybe knows all the alphabet or obeys the first time their parent gives an instruction. 

Those are some of the things I struggle with. Do you struggle with the same or maybe other things? I’d love to hear in the comments. Tomorrow, I’ll be back to share some of the things that help me deal with this side of Montessori Parenting.

Live a Good Life!

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9 thoughts on “The Difficult Side of Montessori Parenting

  1. Every single one of those plus add the pressure of having to perform like a perfect Montessorian in public and with your children 💯 of the Time in soo exhausted

  2. I am SO grateful you wrote this post! Yes, I also find myself in the grip of intense guilt when I respond to my 4-year-old harshly because I’m tired, lazy or my tools aren’t working.

    One gift of Montessori and peaceful parenting is greater self-respect and autonomy of our children, which can make them resistant to instruction, limits and the arbitrary necessities of life in adult society. I find that my son also keeps close tabs on my own behavior and calls me out on my hypocricy, which drives me nuts because I’m terrible at modeling the behavior I want to see! Argh. They do make us examine our own habits and values and hold a sometimes unflattering mirror up to our faces.

    I wish more parenting advisors would acknowledge and help us with the tough work of personal change instead of focusing exclusively on the parent-child interaction. Montessori’s great insights include the work of the adult (on onself), which are the first things we forget or eliminate when relating to children.

  3. Thanks for the post Junifa, it’s assuring to know sometimes we are not alone in this ‘struggle’.

    My challenge at the moment is finding that middle ground where you don’t what a child who is ‘obedient’ to every instruction dished out – it then seems to raise a child who is unable to think – then there are times when you just want the child to follow an instruction without questioning. Have you had similar experiences and what would you do? How do you manage it?

  4. Yes I’m so glad to see this post! I think this applies not only to parenting but whenever one ventures off the beaten path. I feel the same about my journey with health and diet (gluten free, dairy free). People tend to judge and fear what they don’t understand. That’s why Montessori raises peaceful children. Because when they know and understand the world around them, they don’t have to fear the people who are different from them.

  5. Yes! 100%! I’ve been thinking about this for a while – when I was growing up, good parenting meant having obedient children, which is a pretty short-term goal. My goals (and yours as well, I gather) are much more long-term: raising the next generation of peaceful, curious, contributing adults. Using a long-term approach to parenting when our culture is still so focused on the short term… well, there’s always going to be friction there. I’m right there with you.

  6. Amen sister. It’s a HUGE struggle. It gets easier as they get older, when the “traditional” parents’ struggles get bigger (because they didn’t set a strong foundation of clear limits) and your struggles get smaller because your child is beginning to develop executive function skills thanks to your efforts during the first 6 years. What kills me is how Montessori teachers expect children of Montessori teachers to behave “better” than the other children… Yes, they behave differently, but sometimes not in a “good” (i.e. passive) way. Children who haven’t been bribed, punished, threatened, hit or otherwise manipulated are a lot more challenging to work with than those who’ve been exposed to these tactics.

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