Image Credit: graur razvan ionut /

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
  • etc.

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.


  • Runninghood

    Oh I hear this.  I hate when I hear myself give a “if you don’t stop then ____” comment that will really  not be fun to follow through on.  Uggh!  I getting better at catching myself so that I am not punishing myself for their lack of listening.  

    • Ha ha, I have yet to learn that lesson!! So many times I wish I had picked something else to say. Glad I’m not alone.

  • Justcherishtoday

    This was a good read. I am glad you posted it. As a new mother, I am planning on following up with what I say . . . 

    I hope you have a happy extended weekend!!!

    • Good luck with following through, it’s tough but so worth it in the end. At almost 2 we can already see the difference following through has made for our son.

  • Aboobieaday

    i think this is a great blog topic and completely agree!! 

    that being said, i might offer you an alternative for your use of the word “punishment”. it sounds like what your son received was a removal of a *privilege (consequence) as a result of not being able to handle the *responsibility of the boundaries of being in the pool. i’d only define it differently because a punishment is a penalty inflicted as a result of an offense, ie – time out, spanking, pinching, hitting, jail, etc… 

    it is often harder for a parent to stick to a consequence because it means that they might lose something as well. ie – leaving a party means no party for the parent as well. 

    punishments are often easier to dish out (despite the age-old phrase “this hurts me more than it hurts you”) because they are quick and do not involve the psychological/emotional work it takes to use consequences or emotional counseling. 

    just some thoughts from aboobieaday! <3

    • Thanks Crystal. It’s funny that you said this because I definitely struggled when I typed “punishment” but I was tired and I couldn’t think of the word I really wanted to use.  You definitely understood what I was going for 🙂 I’m going to revise the post to reflect what I actually meant.