Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Because I Said So

First I should say that I am overjoyed to have the potty training behind us. Josh began ignoring the potty seat last week and even with the diarrhea of this latest bug, he made it to the bathroom without saying a peep. Clearly, a heads up would have been helpful but it’s the progress that counts, right? Not the messes we parents can become almost immune to. Almost. I can say that on at least one level, progress is being made.

But.

Lately I’ve been observing our youngest and sadly realizing that nothing I’m doing is working. Now before you think I’m being mellow dramatic and that I might actually be a good mom disciplining her child correctly, please note that a) Mellow-Dramatic is my middle name and b) Until yesterday I really haven’t disciplined him at all. I’ve got my hands full with three others who take turns questioning my authority (Sam doesn’t count because he’s obsessive-compulsive about being GOOD. This could be a totally separate blog about how this is not only is a spectacular dream come true but also uniformly worrisome).

In years past this questioning of my (our) authority used to be a mere annoyance but it’s grown in scope and size to a point where I’m done choosing my battles. It was an almost overnight flip of a switch in my mind. I am the Mother. Michael is the Father. If we make a request we expect follow through. Discussion is one thing. Compromise is, at times, good and even necessary. Disrespect? I’m having none of it.

Which I have to say is hard for those for whom it’s become rather a way of life. They’re not taking it well. Somehow they missed the lesson that we are in charge. It could be because we didn’t exactly teach it.

I’m not a fan of self-help books in general and those geared toward child-rearing specifically. I’m not saying they have nothing to offer, it’s just not my thing. That being said, I found myself standing in front of the parenting section at Far West Books awhile back. A woman who worked there pointed out a book called Discipline Me Right by Mary Simmons. It was thin and actually looked interesting so I made the purchase. It sat around for days until I finally picked it up Sunday.

The writer is an English teacher and for several years had her high school seniors make a list of 10 Commandments for Parents after reading the book Ordinary People. She kept the answers and tallied them up:

1. Discipline me right
2. Provide for me well
3. Allow me freedom
4. Be a role model
5. Be there
6. Respect my individuality
7. Respect my privacy
8. Love me
9. Don’t embarrass me
10. Have reasonable expectations

These were seniors, not kids the ages of my children and I have to admit to some misgivings about the order of the list. Still, look at #1. Why is the whole discipline thing so hard? For me I tend to think it’s because I’m a bit lazy and don’t want to deal with unpleasantness. Actually, that’s just a statement of fact. But even when I’m on my game I often feel clueless. WHY?

As I look over the list I think of my own growing up years. I knew the rules and knew what would happen if I crossed that line. It never occurred to me that my parents loved me or didn’t love me (those words weren’t bandied about in our home) but I can see by this list that they really did follow the rules. I’m not entirely sure why I’ve found it nearly impossible to emulate those folks. But I intend to keep up the struggle until I figure it out.

So. It will be a different struggle with each child because of course they’re individuals and push us in different ways about different things. As to Josh, we’ve spent a lot of time (mostly me, because remember, She’s In The House) just giving in to any and all demands because a) He’s the baby, b) It’s Easy. Last night at dinner he suffered through 3 time outs (3 minutes each) because he continued to be naughty throughout the meal. Finally, he refused to finish his dinner after hearing someone mention “cookies”. Yes indeed, cookies for dessert. It ended well though. I didn’t raise my voice and by the end of dinner he figured out that I would just keep silently putting him back on the stool if he moved. And, believe it or not, he apologized and finished his dinner. Maybe progress with him will bolster me through my efforts with the others. You know why? Because I SAID SO.
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1 comment:

  1. That's great, Tiffany! You are inspiring me (us?) to get serious around here--we certainly have the same issues. Give an update in a few weeks if you can....

    ReplyDelete

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