I had this whole ranty post written in my head with the same title, but with a sarcastic tone.
I decided not to write it, cause blogging angry is never very productive, but then changed my mind. This is not about anger; this is about common sense.
Apparently, I’m the worst mother in the world. And no, I’m not just saying I feel like the worst mother in the world because I’ve had a bad day, but all the ‘evidence’ suggests that I am.
You see, I use a timeout principle with my kids. And sometimes, sometimes I even smack them. Lock me up now please so that I can not be around to see the insecure, psychologically scarred people that my children are apparently becoming.
I’ve been doing it all wrong. I should not be giving my children instructions and expecting them to listen to me. No rather I should just model exceptional behaviour at all times, and hope that the little people will by osmosis, with no explanation necessary, decide that they too will be calm, kind, self controlled individuals and my house will be fully of hugs and puppies, and maybe a rainbow with a pot of gold.
I will never need to raise my voice, because my children will not dream of defying me (did you know that toddlers never throw tantrums from defiance? It’s ALWAYS a lack of communication.) and we will never have a power struggle, because I can always offer a choice.
Are you ready to throw up yet? I am.
In reality, this is not going to happen. How does this play out. ‘Oh Bridie, you can either clean up your toys or not. Which would you like?’
‘Oh mother, of course I will pick up my toys willingly. I see that you have modelled such a beautiful attitude of servant hood towards the family, so I shall reciprocate. Is there anything else I can do for you as well?’
What about this scenario.
‘Ava, do not hit your brother.’
‘Sorry mother, but I would really like the book that he is reading, and he won’t give it to me. Perhaps I should just sit quietly and wait my turn?’
Of course we can avoid this situation without tears. If they do come, I can ask her ‘how are you feeling right now? Use your words!’
Oh that’s right, she doesn’t have any (or enough.)
What about this familiar struggle?
‘Ok it’s time for bed.’
‘oh mum, if it’s ok I’d really rather not go to bed red now. How about I stay up until you guys do?”
Children need boundaries.
Children need a line in the sand that they cannot cross, and consequences should they cross it.
There will always be tears and tantrums and defiance and power struggles because that is human nature. A choice is not always available and it shouldn’t always be given. In what way does that possibly prepare our children for the world?
Time out is not psychologically scarring for a child. It gives both the parent and the child time to cool down and get some self control. It helps the parent to reflect on whether they were too firm or not firm enough. It gives the older child time to reflect on their actions, and what they need to do to make it right. It gives the younger child a firm boundary; this behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
Smacking does not breed violence when done in a safe, loving, environment with clear expectations. My children are not violent. Yes they hurt one another from time to time, but they are not violent people. And my youngest child has learned to bite, pull hair, pinch, and smack though it’s never been done to her.
Maybe, just maybe, children are not born perfect. Maybe they need structure and instruction. Maybe learning by example (while incredibly vital) is not enough.
Maybe punishment is necessary? Let’s consider that for a moment.
Our society advocates punishment. If you run a red light you get a ticket. It costs you; it hurts. It’s to save you from a natural consequence like killing yourself or someone else.
If you do kill someone, you go to jail. You should.
If you sell drugs, rape someone, take Nudey pics of kids, rob a bank, speed, assault someone, commit fraud, and the list goes on, you get punished.
You don’t get a choice. You don’t get to explain it away by ‘using your words.’ There was a boundary that was necessary and you broke it.
I have strong willed children. I have power struggles EVERY day. But I win them, because I am a good mother. On Friday I sent my child to school with nothing but grapes for recess, because she refuses to eat fruit. Is this mean? Yes. I feel horrible. I don’t want her to go hungry, but I know that she needs a balanced healthy diet. And it’s not that she doesn’t like grapes; she loves them. She just resists eating them because she is told to.
And you know what? She loves me.
She tells me daily that I am the best mum ever.
She gives me kisses and cuddles and wants to play with me.
My son, he of the midnight sneaking into bed and the following tantrums when he is sent back, tells me I am ‘fitty.’ (Pretty.) He says I’m awesome and the best mum ever. He tells me EVERY day.
My baby gets sent to her room for the afore mentioned violence. She walks halfway down the hall, turns around, comes back and says ‘sorry Mummy’ and gives me a cuddle.
My eldest girl talks to me about everything. We talk about appropriate behaviors and why she is suffer ending certain consequences.
And I’m her hero.
So screw the scientists and the ‘evidence’ and the critics. My kids will have boundaries, AND punishment, AND rewards, AND isolation AND cuddles. I will model the values I want to impart, I will stand my ground when it needs to be stood, I will win the fights I need to, and back down with grace when I need to.
I will make mistakes and I will say sorry, but I will not apologise for the way I parent.
Because regardless of what anyone else says, to my kids, I’m mother of the year.