What would Mama Bear do

Written by Claire Dunkley aka ‘Mama Bear’ from Cluzie Clinic

I have found since becoming a mother that my view on things has somewhat changed.  Of course I want to be the best mother possible, and sometimes I look to nature and animals as a way to live my best mumma-life.

The Mama Bear is innately protective of her cubs and will do everything in her power to make sure they stay safe. However, there are things that do not bother Mama Bear because they are not of consequence to her innate self, and this is where some of my lessons come from.

Let’s say Mama Bear is walking in the forest with her cubs trailing her. Then with a loud crack and bang, a branch falls off a tree, landing in the surrounding bush. The cubs jump and cower in fright and are scared. Does Mama Bear stop, turn around and placate the little cubs? NOOO she keeps on walking knowing that there is no threat to her little cubs from a branch falling in the middle of the woods.

However, if Mama Bear is walking in the forest with her cubs trailing behind her and she senses that a mountain lion is stalking them and preparing to snatch one of her cubs, what does she do? She hears the snarl of the lion and her cubs start cowering and shivering from the roar. Mama Bear turns around and defends her cubs and fights off that mountain lion.

So what do these stories have to do with real life? Well as a mother, my kid gives me tests and trials to overcome. By reflecting on ‘what would Mama Bear do in this situation’ allows me to sometimes handle things a little differently than I would have originally.

Scenario 1

When a child is learning to walk for the first time, do you stand them up and then move their left foot, then their right foot for them – ie moving their body like putty in the formation that you want them to do? Or do you hover around them like a helicopter waiting to pounce if they look likely to topple?

What would Mama Bear do in this scenario? Would she show the way and allow the cub would follow in her footsteps? Would she allow the cub to fail over and over by falling over before slowly working out how to take a step?

How often do we fall into the trap of telling our child what to do OR doing something for them instead of just doing the same thing for ourselves and allow them to copy our behaviour?

Scenario 2

What would Mama Bear do

Two children are playing a bit of rough and tumble, learning the extent of what all their arms and legs can do. They don’t know their boundaries yet as they have not explored them.

Does Mama Bear step in to say “stop wrestling” or does she just let them go at it to learn for themselves? When her cubs are wrestling, they are learning all the moves to protect themselves that they will need when they are older.

As a parent, if we interrupt and step in to monitor and oversee every interaction, the children don’t get to explore conflict or being upset,  nor how to deal in different situations for themselves.

Scenario 3

The child does not want to go into the car seat. He is acting like a surfboard and crying blue murder at the thought of being restricted in any way. The child has a particular agenda of what they want which is different to the agenda of the mother.  And this equals a conflict of wills.

There are many ways to act when this scenario comes about:

  • Get bigger and louder than the child
  • Sit down and chat to them about the need of using the car
  • Walk instead of drive
  • Do not go out
  • Force them into the car seat
  • Use every distraction technique possible in order to wrangle that kid in

Sometimes Mama Bear has to be strong and know what is best for the child, even if the child cannot see the bigger picture yet. Using ‘what would Mama Bear do?’ as a way to think through this scenario allows reflection on: a) is this a scenario where I must step in and protect, b) do I need to step back and allow for the child’s innate knowing, or c) be strong in a particular decision.

Scenario 4

What if you came home to seeing your child being ill-treated by an adult?

Hell yes, Mama Bear comes in and boots that scoundrel out of her house hopefully in handcuffs … in the bear’s case, with an oodle of bruises and cuts.

Reflecting on what Mama Bear would do?

So, when you come across a situation with your cubs which are there to test you, consider ‘what would Mama Bear do’ – is it something to be concerned about or is it just a part of growing up and is not a threat to the safety of your beloved little one.

Kids LOVE learning … and adults do too; it is the most natural thing in the world for us. By allowing our children to be children - to play, have fun and be free from others’ opinions, beliefs and judgments, I believe that they will grow up to innately and independently know themselves and what is best for their self.

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