Before I was a mom, I had very certain ideas about parenting. I KNEW it would be hard, but not so bad. I KNEW that, with the proper motivation (and discipline), a child would behave as they should. I KNEW that if you presented your child with healthy (and tasty) food options regularly, they'd be more apt to choose those over their fattening counterparts. I KNEW that a child that took naps was a happy child.
What I didn't know was that only one of those items up there was something that I really did know for sure.
The rest.....the rest are bull shit.
Here's the bottom line about parenting....it's hard and it sucks...and the rewards, though you think might be grandiose, are small and sometimes few and far between.
So as I've been noticing my own self struggling with parenting lately (because, let's face it, so far four years old is the hardest yet), I went to my good ol' friend Pinterest for some help...you can find everything on Pinterest :)
As a person who has practically ZERO self-esteem, it's extra important to me that my child doesn't feel that way. I need her to grow up with the most amazing sense of self worth. It's hard going through life feeling terrible about yourself (no matter what the cause, be it your own inner self or something you've been taught). Part of teacher her self-esteem is to strive to never tear her down; she needs to know that I'm ALWAYS proud of her....that she's a GOOD kid who occasionally (more than occasionally lately) exhibits BAD behavior. But she's not a BAD kid; she's never been a BAD kid. Teaching your child that she's BAD will stay with her forever...and she'll always feel that she's inadequate. Build up your children, folks. Don't stand over them screaming at them telling them how bad they are (when the only BAD behavior they're exhibiting is not listening). Intimidating them is no way to earn their respect. Plus, it teaches them to always be inferior and submissive. Do you want your child growing up that way? I didn't think so. Check out this article (here) on how to get away from telling your kid that they're BAD. Don't ever tell your child they're dumb or stupid. Don't ever call your child a dummy or an idiot. Don't ever belittle their ideas and make them feel small.
You did ballet, so you want your kid to do ballet. You love to wear dresses and bows, so you want your little girl to wear dresses and bows. You like to fish, so you want your son to fish. You think pink is for girls, so your son can't touch anything that has pink on it. Guess what folks? Your kid IS NOT YOU. I'm totally guilty of this...I loved doing ballet, so I encouraged my child to do dance (totally not her thing, by the way). I love to paint and do artsy fartsy things, so I encourage her to do the same. Even Dave does it...he did martial arts as a kid and keeps bringing it up that she should try it. But here's the thing people...our children are their own selves. If all you do is teach them to love what you love, then they'll grow up waiting for others to tell them what to do do, how to feel, how to live. But if you expose your child to EVERYTHING, give them every opportunity to be their own person, then they'll thrive. You like bows, but your little girl likes to play in the dirt and catch bugs...then that's OK. You liked playing soccer, but your son wants to try tap dancing...then that's OK. You're a doctor but your child says she wants to work on cars when she grows up...then that's OK. Instill in your child that they can do whatever they want to do...they can like whatever they like (unless it's acorns...that's a hard "no")...they can be their own person and do NOT have to follow in your shadow.
We're struggling with this in our house BIG TIME lately. She doesn't listen to us (pretends she doesn't hear us is more like it), so we get mad. She continues to not listen to us, so we get even more mad. We start yelling, she starts arguing. We (stupidly) argue back, she gets mad and also starts yelling. We get more mad and tell her to go to her room or get popped, she runs around screaming she doesn't want to go upstairs but still doesn't want to do what we asked in the first place. We scream more, she screams more, and then eventually runs upstairs crying and yelling "You're not my best friend anymore...not ever ever ever!" .... which of course only makes us more mad as I'm screaming "That's right, I'm not your best friend, I'm your mother!" It's awful. I hate it. I usually cry afterwards. This article right here explains how to offer choices (and use them appropriately) to hopefully avoid the power struggle. I've seen parents use this technique and works flawlessly for them. That's NOT saying that it will work flawlessly for everybody, but it at least offers a little more guidance.
For all the times you're worrying about if your child is doing what they should, acting right, listening, being respectful, sharing, etc...stop and really pay attention. They're probably already pretty great!
My kid asked me to buy some healthy snacks like grapes and apples instead of mini muffins.
She picks me a flower almost every day I pick her up from school and says "for you, mommy."
She talks about wanting to be a painter and a chef and a doctor and an animal doctor and a mechanic and a runner and swimmer and a gymnast and an astronaut and a scientist.
She asks about why people are sick and who's going to help them feel better.
She makes sure her baby doll is swaddled properly and has a blanket, pillow, and animal every night at bedtime.
She understood she couldn't keep her butterflies in a cage and was excited to let them go.
She loves to help feed the birds.
She talks about giving her old baby toys away to her baby cousins and her too-small clothes to Little Miss Natalie at "mommy's work."
She's really pretty awesome...despite the fact that I yell, scream, and spank. :)
Happy parenting, y'all!
On a side note: A 9 year old boy who passed away as a result of that accident on Riverwatch was an organ donor and now 4 or 5 more people will live because of him. A child y'all. Are you an organ donor? No? You should be! If a 9 year old can do it, you can do it!