This blog post comes with a warning label to any parents out there who will find my parenting style offensive. You’ve been warned!
So what’s your parenting style? Do you give in too easily to boo-boo faces and the promise that next time they’ll listen to you and not run away, or do you stand firm no matter how much your child bats his sweet, innocent eyes at you and says, “But Mommy, I love you.”
Having a child in my 40s means recollections of how my parents “disciplined” me are more than a distant memory now. Of course some memories never fade like having my mouth washed out with soap when I sassed back to my mother; being sent straight to my room when my sister and I decided to purposefully spill our drinks at the table; or just that stern look from my father that meant if I even thought of continuing down the path of bad behavior I probably wouldn’t sit down for a week. Aww…the good ole days. My oh my how times have changed.
I’ve often told my mother that by today’s standards she and my father would probably be in jail based on their disciplinary styles from way back when. Of course, I went to school when corporal punishment was acceptable and getting in trouble in class most certainly meant a trip to the principal’s office and probable detention. Today, parents call in their lawyers and the next morning they’re all on Good Morning America pleading their case. Don’t get me wrong, there are some horrible kids out there doing horrible things. The recent story about the bullied bus monitor makes me sick at my stomach. But whatever happened to consequences and the fear of god from your parents?
My challenges with my 4-year old are no different from most parents other than the fact that Jack thinks like an 8-year old and has the behavior of a 2-year old…and that’s on a good day. When he goes into the terrible two-year old behavior mode I react by telling him that I’m going to the store to buy him some diapers, and a bottle, and a pacifier, and a high chair. Most times that does the trick.
Once when Jack was clowning around and not listening he gave himself a mild concussion because he was bouncing around in a chair and hit his head on the end table. This was a very traumatic experience for everyone as it involved a very scared little boy, worried parents…and friends, and a trip to the emergency room with hospital gowns, IVs and CT-scans. He was totally fine, by the way! Today when he starts clowning around and refuses to listen whenever I’m trying to prevent him from getting hurt, I just ask him if he wants me to call ahead to the emergency room and have them get the CT-scan machine ready. More often than not this approach usually works too.
To some I’m sure that is appalling and they can’t believe a mother would talk to their child that way. But does that make me a horrible mother or one that is creatively looking for ways to teach her child right from wrong and keep him safe because the old standby of “stop-doing-that-or-you-may-get-hurt” routine doesn’t work?
Today parents are bombarded with hundreds of books, websites and experts telling us the right and wrong way to raise our children. It’s information overload! While it’s great to get perspective and differing opinions, you have to know your child and go with your gut. And if all else fails…and you feel you remotely came from a good home, and still carry the utmost respect for your parents…think about how they did it and come up with your own style. Can’t hurt, right?
Living in New York City adds an extra element of fun to my parenting. Take for instance today’s behavioral episode when Jack went into full-on meltdown mode on the street, for the whole city to see and judge. Maybe it’s my 40-something wisdom or experience with the real world, but it truly didn’t faze me. I just kept on walking and knew he would eventually calm down. Of course, we passed a drugstore and I asked him if he wanted to stop in and buy some diapers. Yep, it worked like a charm!