No parent is perfect, everyone makes mistakes. And navigating this parenting business is tough. There are so many different styles of parenting… you have:
- natural parenting
- attachment parenting
- tough love
- cry it out
- fly by the seat of your pants
- let the kid decide
Not to mention that anyone you talk to has a slightly different view of these.
There are dozens of ways to spin this parenting thing, and thousands more pitfalls along the way. But no matter what route you take there is one universal truth. Your child needs to count on you. You are a driving force in their lives and who they will become.
So how can you help them to count on you. One way that has really struck me lately is to say what you mean and mean what you say.
I was listening to the radio the other day and the DJ was telling a cute story about how grown up his 3 year old was. The 3 year old had been misbehaving and the mother told him that if he didn’t behave then he wouldn’t get any Christmas presents. Well this 3 year old looked her right in the eye and said that he didn’t want any that year. Sure it’s a cute story, and I’m sure we all have one just like it. What’s wrong with it?
Right from the start the mother set herself up for failure. As a consequence she threatened to take away something she most likely wouldn’t follow through on. Maybe she would, but the average parent who did this would just be throwing out idle threats. And children pick up on this. She should have chosen a punishment that was fit for the behavior and one she would be willing to follow through on. Instead, all this ended up doing was teaching her son that Mommy didn’t mean what she said, only sometimes. Another huge example of this is when you hear parents say to their children over and over “If you don’t stop X, then we’re going home!” But they never do, they never put everything down and go home.
This is a tough lesson to learn and so difficult to actually think about before the words fly out of your mouth. Just last week I told G not to play in the pool with more than his hands. I was watching him and he was testing his boundaries a bit, but I was aware of what was happening. D had heard this all going on, so when he came out he told G to listen to Mommy and if he climbed in one more time then the pool would be dumped out. Boy was I disappointed when G did it again. I had plans of letting him play in the pool a bit after dinner. But D had laid out the consequence and it was important that he follow through and that I support him in this.
So we’re learning. I’m trying to make sure that I give consequences that I actually mean. I want to be the one my son can count on.