I have what one might call an allergic reaction to the modern parental experts and their hokey advice on what I, as a mother, should be doing.
Perhaps it’s a homage to my own mother. I find myself using the tactics she used on me to keep me in line as the most appropriate for my own children. Then again, it’s mostly just doing what comes natural and being slightly lazy.
In some ways I am a very progressive mom, I believe babies should be breastfed for at least a year and certainly longer if possible, I am for co-sleeping, I think giving choices is helpful and spanking should be kept to the bare minimum (I do think a swat is the only option sometimes, although Eric adamantly opposes it).
But what about all this other namby-pamby nonsense that these “parenting experts” are passing out as good advice?
Listen to your children and then respond to their needs. That’s great as long as their needs fall in line with my schedule and they do as I say when it really counts. Needing to watch the end of Barney when it’s time to leave for school and responding to it, just means we are all late – sorry your needs don’t always matter.
Unconditional love should always be given Unless you are driving me insane and being a demonic brat – then it’s the “Hey you little snot, I have feelings too, and let me express one for you – LEAVE MOMMY ALONE OR MOMMY MIGHT EAT YOU.” It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Lead by example, if you want them to be patient, you must be patient.
That’s all well and good, but when I have a buttplow in front of me who refuses to go through the green light within a reasonable amount of time, mommy may bust out a “Move it moron!!” and a honk to just to show the selfish bastard the error of his or her ways. This might accidentally cause my child to shove another kid in line if he is busy picking his nose and staring off into space. Life’s short dumbass, wake up and get movin’.
I could list dozens of examples of things I should be doing differently as a parent, but I am not a automaton – I react based on my experiences, my values and my mood. I try to be an adult and behave appropriately, but I sometimes fail. It’s a good lesson for your children to learn I think – “Hey sometimes Mom’s a bitch.” I generally admit to this, apologize and try and make up for it, but you can’t remove this essential quality from my being. It just is.
Occasionally though, I come across a great suggestion in the millions of parenting magazines I scour for more advice I refuse to take – and this one is as old as time.
Lily, who is now four, has a terrible time staying in her bed at night. It’s not her fault, it’s mine for allowing this practice to begin. The problem is that as I get closer to giving birth I am more uncomfortable, take up more space and the fact is, she just won’t be able to do it with a little baby in our lives.
I remembered one of those annoying experts suggesting the reward system as a way of teaching children a pattern of positive behavior. Keep it simple and make it to their advantage. I told Lily that if she could stay in her bed each night I would give her a star, once she had enough stars she could pick out a treat of her choice within reason.
Last night was the first night – and low and behold she actually listened and made a conscious effort. I laid down with her, read her stories, listened to her bedtime music and left quietly as she slipped into slumber. A couple of hours later I hear the door to my room open – I sat up and watched as Lily’s wheels turned. She stood at the door for a moment and thought – she then let out a sigh and slowly closed the door. I knew she had remembered our deal. A moment later she came in and walked to my bedside – BUT DID NOT TRY TO GET INTO BED. She gently waited and when I asked her what she wanted to do, she said “Can you tuck me back into bed Mommy?” So within moments she was asleep in her bed and I was asleep in mine.
I heard her get up once more a few hours later, but she never entered the room. She stopped herself and was resigned to the promise.
I have never been so proud!! We marked her first star on the calendar and I am PRAYING that we can work this out to everyone’s advantage and happiness.
Sometimes if I just have patience, listen to the needs of my child, and give some unconditional love I find that parenting is a breeze.