Friday, April 27, 2007

How Not to Parent

On a few occasions I've enjoyed What Not to Wear on TLC. I really feel empathetic towards the poor woman who they follow around and catch her on film wearing her comfy stretchy maternity pants pushing her youngest child, a toddler, in a stroller. Then they do a closet overhaul and throw away her T-shirts from her college sorority formals twelve years ago and her one all-occasion dress with shoulder pads big enough to double as protective wear. They discard all of these things and take her shopping for the clothes that she needs so that she will avoid future fashion disasters.

This post is the "caught on camera" expose of my parenting habits. I know that I'm not a bad mom, but I also know that I fall short in many areas, specifically in the area of discipline. If I had been caught on tape this week, all of these things would be entered into the file proving that I needed a serious parenting overhaul:
  • At home or in the car--Several episodes of frustrated yelling which occurred after requests were made (again and again) to do something and I finally reached my breaking point.
  • At Panera for an early dinner--Slightly unruly children and a mom frazzled by trying to keep them quietly occupied in a very small room for over an hour and a half at Amanda's eye doctor appointment.
  • In grocery stores, schools, etc--Kyle doing the toddler flop since he doesn't want to hold my hand, he wants to "run faster, faster!"
  • In the same public places--Me, watching him run off, since we can't get anything done with him flopped on the ground or with me carrying him as he screams and flails.
  • At Amanda's classroom assembly for the parents--Me, vacillating unpredictably between being okay with the fact that Kyle is playing in the water fountain at the back of the room, because he's quiet, and we've been there a while and deciding that he should sit quietly beside me for a few minutes, which produces shrieks of protest (from him, and sighs of indecision from me).
There have been things that have really bothered me about my parenting practices, and there's nothing like parenting a spirited child nearing the age of three to make you decide that it's now or never. One thing I've realized is that my kids aren't really doing anything wrong. They are pushing the boundaries as a means of finding their voice and establishing their identities. It's me who has been wrong. I have failed to give them the safe arena of consistent discipline that allows them to test their wings. Tomorrow I will post about a few simple changes that I have made which have helped me to parent more confidently.


Susanne said...

Yes, parenting. The thing that makes us feel so inadequate at times. I'm in the teen years and I'm still vacillilating sometimes on being too tough and being to lenient. I'm reading that book "Grace based Parenting" by Tim Kimmel and am finding it very helpful. And a pretty easy read. Nothing I dislike more than books that read like college text books.

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

What makes me really frustrated is quite simply my frustration! :)

It seems these days I have to get "angry" and yell or raise my voice before things happen. Honestly my kids are good 85% of the time, but the other 15% they are horrid. And a nice "do not do that" does NOT work. I simply have to raise my voice and get angry to get results. I know, I know, delayed obedience is just as bad as disobedience itself.

BUT WHAT DO I DO!!!???!!??? I am in a perpetual state of frustration these days.

And boys must be different with girls. The girls didn't do the things my son does. My son will REFUSE to hold my hand crossing a street. This morning at the farmers market my husband had to pick him up and carry him before a car would run him down. He just is so stubborn!

Katrina said...

Parenting is so humbling, and so challenging. Just when I think I've figured it out, I realize that I've let a different area of parenting go and I need to do some "parenting maintenance." I like your conclusions - that kids that age are just doing the thing that comes naturally, testing the lines, asserting themselves. It's the moms (and dads) that have to do all the work here!