“When we get to Amanda’s house what do you need to do?”
Automatic response from the back seat…”Listen and obey”
They say your first child is a practice run. By the time you mess up a thousand times with them, by the second and third kid you have got things a little more under control! As I am an oldest child, I feel sorry for my Adley….and all the other ‘first’ kids!
My parenting style has changed, shifted and warped itself through the last 4 years and 10 months! I thought I had it all sorted when I had Adley, after all, I had been a nanny and worked with many kids before! Adley was the best gift I had ever received and I love him with all my heart! With all the dreaming I had done about becoming a mum, I didn’t realise that your heart would actually live outside of your body when you had a child!
When Nevaeh came along, I had decided that the cry it out and tough love parenting was definetly not for me. Hence why Nevaeh slept in and out of our room until she was 2 and was breastfed on demand. Now I feel confident with my decisions on the all important feeding and sleeping schedule with my baby…but now we are venturing into a whole new phase! The ‘I am my own person and sometimes I want to do what I want to do and what you say has nothing to do with what I want to do so I am either going to ignore you or scream and cry or yell at you’ phase!
Being a mum, and like all mums…I get together with other mums and we talk about our kids and our philosophies on parenting and the latest book or craze that we adhere too. For a while I thought that when a child had disobeyed, or been silly, I needed to sit down and have a long chat and put said child in time out for a period of time. That time out of course meant they needed to sit and stare at the wall silently, and if they didn’t, of course time out needed to start again! Well….we must have done this for a while, and while it had some success, it was SO FRUSTRATING! A few months ago I decided that this wasn’t for us. Something wasn’t right about expecting a 4 year old to act better then an adult. If you think about it, when someone asks us to do something, our response is often “Let me just…” and I don’t know about you but when someone try’s to correct me on something, I often get rather defensive.
After this epiphany, we changed our tactics…joint another book craze and decided to become more confident in our parenting strategies of our preschoolers. Don’t get me wrong, they are still expected to follow the rules, to take part in our family (including cleaning up), to respect us and other adults and to be kind to each other. But we have taken away the frustration, the long and involved talks, the belief that a child needs to act like a little adult in situations and not be silly. Life has become easier and I am a much happier mum, but the best bit is….my kids are actually better ‘behaved’ now! They love that mummy has more fun with them, rather then penalising them for making silly faces, I make sillier! At church, we sit and I whisper the words into Adley’s ear so that he can sing the songs…and I answer the questions he has at the time, no shushing him up.
Every parent needs to find what discipline system and style of parenting works best for them but I hope parents can realise, before a couple of years of frustration and belief that you need to follow the others, that children need to be kids. Obedience at the instant sound of mums voice, may not be realistic (do you seriously obey each and ever road law?) and we only hold our babies for a little time (so if you want to let them sleep in your bed for a while….go for it! I am)
I pray earnestly that my kids grow up to be respectful and caring global citizens, and I am sure they will…but for now, let them act their age.