Are you a Perfect Parent?
When it comes to raising children, how highly do you rate yourself?
How do you go with consistency?
Are you easily swayed from saying no to saying yes?
Do your kids know that if they beg and plead and moan for long enough that you’ll break?
Or are you steadfast in your resolve?
Well up until last week I would have proudly declared myself the latter. As a teacher by trade, I have always had very firm boundaries and understand the importance of delivering a consistent message. I carried this through into my parenting. No amount of begging or pleading at the check-out would make me buy an extra chocolate bar for my kids, and so I ended up with kids that quickly took no for an answer, they knew that no meant no and that I wasn’t going to give in.
Then my third child came along.
Last Friday, she and I had a rough morning. She’s 5, turning 6 in a few months, and she is as strong willed as her mother. The older two kids had gotten up early, had breakfast, got dressed and brushed their teeth. This productivity allowed them to have an easy morning before school of Netflix time.
After getting dressed, I encouraged Charli to brush her teeth. Our exchange went something like this:
‘I’m not doing it,’
‘Oh yes you are!’
‘No I’m not and you aren’t in charge of me, dad is!’
‘If you don’t go and brush your teeth, I’m going to take the chocolate chip cookie out of your bag.’
‘I don’t care, take it out,’ she teased.
‘If you don’t brush your teeth you can go to your room!’
‘Fine, I’m going to my room!’
Eventually I went into her room and demanded she brush her teeth. Begrudgingly she complied.
So if that wasn’t enough, when we got to school, I asked her to carry her bag- the one I’d carried to school for her, into her classroom.
‘You do it,’ she said.
‘No, I’m not doing it, you need to, it’s part of responsibility now that you’re at school.’
‘Nope, I’m not carrying it, you do it.’ She said back.
‘Charli, look at all of your friends taking their bags inside. Pick your bag up and put it where it belongs please.’ My no-nonsense teacher voice now on and in full swing. ‘If you don’t go and get it, I’ll be taking your icy-pole money out for this afternoon.’
At this point I walked into the classroom and over to the bag area where she walked in behind me, without her bag.
‘Mum, you go get my bag. It’s too heavy.’
‘Charli, your bag is not too heavy, go and get it and put it away. I’m going to take your icy pole money,’ I declared.
‘No, I don’t want to.’
As the anger and my frustration levels began to rise, I knew I only had one choice; I had to leave this defiant child with her teacher.
After apologizing to Miss Sniff (Smith, but a bit hard for Charli to pronounce), I left. I left without taking the chocolate chip cookie and without taking her $1 for an icy-pole. I didn’t even know who I was anymore.
How had I become the parent who threatens but doesn’t follow through? I’ve never been that parent, yet here I am with the 3rd child who brings out my best and my worst.
I returned home exhausted and annoyed with myself. My actions only reinforced her behaviour. When she sat down at morning tea and saw the cookie mum said she was going to take, she knew she’d had a win. When she sucked on her icy-pole after lunch, she knew she’d won again. Charli 2- Mummy 0.
Our friends see my husband and I as quite firm parents. My husband works with difficult kids and he is all about behaviour having consequences and the importance of consistent boundaries and expectations.
Last night we caught up with friends and I told them the story.
‘I can’t believe you didn’t follow through’, one said, ‘It’s like you’re human, I never would’ve expected that from you’.
I guess we need to cut ourselves some slack sometimes. Yes, I should’ve followed through on my threats but on that occasion I didn’t. I can beat myself up about it, or I can just put it down to experience. I think I’ll take option B!
Here’s cheers to good parenting!
There is no such thing as a perfect parent, so just be a real one.- Sue Atkins
Do you follow the Mirror Movement on Facebook? Like our page here.
Have you heard about Mirror Movement Courses? Find out more here.