Responsibility also Rhymes with Flexibility


Flexible parenthood

Raising kids nowadays is not an easy job, not easy at all. And, as much as we think information is here to help, we often get trapped in the many prescriptions of Dr.Google, the recommendations of the reality show commentators, or the recipe for success by the next-door neighbor who has already successfully raised four children.

Among all of these voices, we can find the “strict parenthood style” and the “flexible parenthood style” supporters. Although I don’t believe in a “one fits all” strategy and we must adjust our style of parenthood to the child’s character and the circumstances of life, I admit the “flexible parent” resonates more with me. Before supporting my cause, let me clarify that flexibility does not mean anarchy or chaos, nor an absence of rules.  

I have some primary rules and principles, such as being respectful and having manners. Always, no matter what, where, or when.  I do have all of the “maintenance” rules and routines established for stability and a solid foundation, but I am tolerant of flexibility.

As I mentioned above, this world is overloaded with information, and this can be dangerously overwhelming. I want my children not only to be able to follow the rules but, more importantly, to be able to deal with choices and the consequences related to each decision they make. I want them to understand, and to choose the benefits of a good routine, instead of keeping it just because their parents demand it so. I don’t seek to raise obedient followers, I aim to raise independent and responsible human beings. I prefer to guide them, and not to order them to do something.

What does this look like in our day-to-day routines? Here are some examples:

– “Mom, I want to go to bed later today… “

– “Ok. You can go one hour later, but tomorrow you’ll reduce your screen time by half  (because you’ll need to rest your mind and body for not going to bed on time).


– “Vegetable soup?! Not again, Mom…”

– “No problem, you can skip the soup and get two mandarins instead. Or a banana. You need to keep the good nutrients.”


– “I don’t want to go to school today. I’m so annoyed.”

– “Sure. You can stay home for one day, and you’ll be so helpful and have so much fun helping me vacuum the house!”


Choices and consequences. Responsibilities and rights. Good and bad. I hope my children learn how to think, how to evaluate and make decisions even when they don’t have someone to obey. So I choose to guide them instead of push them.   

As parents, we want nothing but the best for our children, and therefore we try, we fail, we cry, we laugh and, in the middle of lots of mistakes, whether we are routine obsessed or easygoing practitioners, we are all just doing our best.  And this will always be my one and unbreakable routine, to always do my best for my children.

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Maria Ines Goncalves is yet another Portuguese mom named Maria (like most of the women in Portugal), but now she is a Portuguese mom in the USA. Born in Portugal, Maria graduated with a degree in Political Science and believed she was not ready for motherhood, wanting to pursue her career and travel the world, although not wanting to live overseas. Guess what? She turned into a stay-at-home-mom of three (2007, 2010 and 2018) and moved to St. Louis due to her husband's job in 2017. Changes are a pattern in her life and, when she’s not adjusting to another life change, she loves to dance, bake, photograph, sew, draw and paint with the kids. But mainly she loves to enjoy the beauty and craziness of motherhood, her real and most precious purpose in life.