I parent under the belief that there is no negotiation in my house. My children should do what I ask “because I said so”. Oops, for a second I fell asleep and was having a really good dream. 🙂
As lovely as that sounds, that’s now how it is, at least in my house. At times, I feel like I am in constant negotiation with my children. Well, enough is enough! It all ends here (go with me people).
As my kids get older, it gets harder and harder to use the ” because I said so” line. They want to know why, or rather, why not?
I want them to have the tools to make good decisions on their own but I am constantly telling them “because I said so” without any explanation. Where are the tools in that? How are they supposed to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes?
This morning we woke up to a temperature of 38 degrees, which is VERY cold for where we live in Florida. My kids never seemed to grasp or care about the concept of changing weather conditions. When I entered their room and my first words were, “it’s a pants day guys…it’s COLD outside”, I quickly knew I had messed up and was in great need for a rewind button. Never a good sign when you need that button at 6:30AM.
My six year old’s pleasant smile turned into a whiny frown. He let me know there would be no pants wearing in this house today. I started to try to use rationale but as we all know, that rarely works with a six year old. My eight year old them chimed in that he was also joining the pants strike. Thank g-d my two year old still lets me dress him.
I decided to show them how cold it was instead of tell them. I instructed them to take out the dog and my hope was that they would come back in and say, “wow, you were right Mommy, it is cold out. I am not only going to wear pants but a long sleeved shirt too”. Oops, sorry again. I fell asleep and wouldn’t you know it, continued that dream from earlier.
Well my plan backfired and of course my six year old said it wasn’t cold out, even though I could see his goosebumps. My eight year old said it was a tad chilly but he could handle it. In the past, I begged, pleaded, negotiated and used that line. The meltdown and the waterworks began and I knew there simply wasn’t time allotted for that. In the morning, it was get dressed, brush teeth, eat breakfast and head out the door to make the bus for school. I didn’t leave room for meltdown, crying and arguing in between tying shoes and cooking eggs. Silly me!
My son suggested he wear pants but a short sleeved shirt sans sweatshirt, which I quickly shot down. I recognized his effort to work with me but I would rather him wear shorts and a sweatshirt. It was time to let him make his own mistake and learn from it. I stopped pushing, said fine to shorts and we moved on to breakfast.
They did work with me on their socks though since I requested they wear their long high ones to cover a portion of their legs below the knee. Even so, it was not what I wanted for them but if they were cold, it wouldn’t be my issue, it would be theirs.
It is my job as his mom to make sure my kids are protected, right? To ensure they are always warm and safe? Yes and yes, but I don’t look at this morning’s decision as a failure, but instead, a success. Let me explain.
I am hoping my ability to let go will provide my six year old and my other boys with the tools to think about their choices, now and later on in life. They need to learn how to look at a situation, figure out their options, understand what the possible consequences to those options could be and how to choose the best option which will lead to the best result.
If something is not working (I have argued about my kids wearing pants when the weather is cold so many times), change it up. Often times, as parents, we need to try new parenting methods and test them out. We need to stay one step ahead and also think how our choices will affect our kids now and when they are older. Allowing them the freedom to make their own decisions at a young age will pay off later on.
Without providing these tools for our children, when mom and dad aren’t around, how can they make decisions for themselves? Don’t get me wrong, we are still the parents and they are the offspring. Kids can’t always get their way just because we want to teach them a lesson. For example, if your child insists on eating additional chocolate cupcakes after you only said she could have one, that should be the end of it. She asked and you answered, and that answer was no.
The lesson you may think you are teaching her if you say “go for it, eat away” is that she will hopefully realize that too many sweets are not good for her tummy, will rot her teeth and keep her up all night, right? From your perspective yes, but from her perspective, not even close. ln this case, it is better if you stand your ground.
Every situation is different. There is a fine line between delivering a message and allowing your kids to rule the house and go against all of your wishes. That line is up to you along with how many times you deem necessary to use the “because I told you so” one. 🙂
TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD!™