Mary Katherine Backstrom is the mom of one son and one daughter, and she says her two children could not be more different. She describes her 5-year-old son, Benjamin, as a “rule-follower,” while she feels that her 3-year-old daughter, Holland, was “born without boundaries.” Backstrom says that while she raises her two children the same, there’s nothing that can be done to tame her daughter’s free spirit, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
In a now-viral Facebook post, Backstrom spoke about the challenges and joys of raising what she calls a “feral child”:
“Some children are just born feral,” she wrote alongside a cute photo of her daughter peeking over the chair she’s sitting in. “Parents can potty train and sleep train and teach manners until their brains are about to explode, but there are some children, who for some reason God only knows, can’t be tamed.”
She went on to describe some of the more wild behaviors her daughter, and these types of children may exhibit.
“They are the kids who eat dead bugs off the floor and shove TNT snap-n-pops into their ear canals,” she wrote. “They are the kids who meet your emergency room deductible by February. They are the kids who are responsible for your forehead wrinkles and every, single gray hair. They play too close to the water, run through the hallways with forks, and some (like really, HOW?) climb the fireplace mantle.”
Although these behaviors can drive parents nuts, at the end of the day, Backstrom thinks they’re also what makes these kids so special. She goes on to say that while lots of people may have different opinions about how to curb their antics, none of them really work. What’s more, she doesn’t recommend even trying.
“We are okay with the fact that our child is wild,” she wrote. “We are okay with the mess and the noise. Believe it or not, we even RELISH IT. (A little bit.).”
“Because only a feral child can teach you how to see the world through an unfiltered lens,” she continued. “Only a feral child can see a world of adventure in 1/8 acre flat, grassy lawn. Only a wild, unadulterated spirit knows the joy of streaking through the house after a bath, screaming like a banshee and feeling the wind on their buck naked skin.”
Instead of trying to change “wild” children, Backstrom encourages embracing them.
“We have a little bit to learn from these wild at heart, freedom-filled, life-relishing little humans,” she wrote at the end of her post, which has resonated with parents everywhere.
It now has more than 3,000 reactions, more than 6,000 shares and nearly 2,000 comments.
A few dissenters left comments, but a lot of moms chimed in with stories of their own wild children. “I just love this,” wrote Danielle Robinson Lariscy in the comments. “Feral is exactly the description of my child. He was a loving sweet little boy, but wild as a banshee. BUT mamas here’s hope. He is now a very responsible, well thought of young man. It took a village to raise him, but Lord, it was worth it.”
And parents who are already finding summer break to be a challenging time will appreciate the comment Alissa De left: “I have a feral 6yo. Today she slid down the staircase railing when she thought I wasn’t looking, poured dirt in her sister’s hair, took my favorite candle and buried it somewhere in the front yard (still yet to be located), convinced her little sister to go surfing down the stairs on a changing table pad with her, and fell out of a tree with an entire tree branch. It’s only the second day of summer break!”
What do you think of Backstrom’s philosophy on how to deal (or not!) with a wild child?