"I turned out fine"
I saw a meme tonight on FB that went something like this, "I'm so scarred for life because I was spanked as a child... said no adult ever."
First of all it's pretty easy to discredit that statement. All you have to do is read the comments on any article about spanking - for or against - and you will find people who say they were spanked as children and they will NEVER do that to their kids. The feelings range in intensity, but it's safe to say that they DO feel their lives were affected by their parents' "disciplinary" choice.
And this raging debate was no different - in fact the comments were fairly predictable and as usual, completely polarized. I didn't read any new arguments. None of them changed my mind. And I realized that was probably true for everyone reading and commenting - people's minds are made up.
Here is a generalized sampling of some of the comments left in defense of spanking:
To the first, I have to agree with those who have stated many times before me- if you are so "fine" why are you defending a bigger person hitting a smaller person? Perhaps you have good manners in public, maybe you have a decent job, you go to church every week, give money to charity, have a long-term steady relationship, and maybe you even have children. Are these the kinds of things you think of when you say you are fine? Because the fact that you are so determined to cling to the idea that spanking is a good idea speaks volumes.
The second argument supposes that if spanking is done correctly then it is not abuse. Now I am certain that there are forms of corporal punishment that are harsher than others - but does that make any form acceptable? If your 4 year old hits your 2 year old is that ok? What if your 2 year old hits your 4 year old - but it isn't very hard? How about then? Do you let it go because it doesn't qualify as abusive? Or is it NOT ok for kids to hit? And if that is the case how do you explain spanking - to them and yourself?
To the third I say a few things. First, our definition of what is acceptable behavior is going to vary. To the person that commented that if he had been loud in a store he would have been properly disciplined (and therefore he didn't behave that way) I offer only love. Certainly there is behavior that is not acceptable in certain spaces - but kids are going to act like kids - exuberant, curious, full of energy - basically, full of LIFE. If kids are not able to behave the way they are wired to, there is a good chance they will grow up to be adults that condemn this very behavior. Perhaps it is not kids that need to change but the societal expectations of what is acceptable. But more than that - I know that there are plenty of well behaved kids that are NOT spanked, so this argument holds little logical weight in my mind.
And finally, oh my heart aches to read the last. It was repeated over and over - not only the ideas that "I was spanked and I'm fine," but beyond that - that "I deserved it, I'm better for it, I'm grateful for it". This defense hurts the most. I've heard it before. And I'm here to tell you it's not true. You didn't deserve it. No one does.
Some people like to use the idea of "uniqueness" as a defense of spanking. "Different methods work for different kids." Who can argue with that? It's true. But I would argue that the kids that get the most spankings (the "difficult" ones, the "stubborn" and "defiant" ones... you know who they are) are the ones that need an alternative the most. If they are getting ("need"?) repeated spankings, it's not working. And the kids that don't get spankings because they don't need them? Kids like me and my sister who were hardly ever punished? Well, we're just naturally "good" I guess. My parents were just lucky (I think they actually think this sometimes.) Actually this whole idea of different kids having different needs is EXACTLY why no one should be spanked. It's why so many people claim to be "fine" while others are vehemently against spanking. How do you know which "type" your child is? And if the spanking doesn't really bother them, is it "working"? If it "works" and bothers them, what is it doing to them and your relationship?
I think I may have been spanked once my whole life. I have a very vague recollection of if. My parents don't remember at all. I also remember sitting in the "corner" once and getting sent to my room once. That's the extent of my punishment "record".(Oh and I did get detention twice in middle/highschool - let's not forget that!) (Clearly those few times stuck with me though.) And I think I turned out more than fine. Guess what else is more than fine? My relationship with my parents. I'm as close to my parents as anyone I know. If I had been spanked would I be this "fine"? Would I be "better off"? Or not? Would the relationships I have with my parents be the same?
The truth is we can never know. But defending something that is wrong won't help. Maybe you are fine. Maybe the fact that you are more than fine has nothing to do with spanking, and in fact, it is IN SPITE of the fact that you were spanked. After all, we human beings are a resilient bunch - kids included.
Ahh, I don't know. It just makes me sad. I don't really believe I can change people's minds but I don't want to say silent either. What do you think? Can you poke any holes in my spanking logic? I'm 99.99% certain I will never think hitting a child is ok.
ps You know what else? Spanking doesn't feel good for anyone. You know what does? Taking deep breaths when you feel like shaking your child because you are so frustrated, waiting till the feeling passes, then having them apologize to you. That feels fucking awesome.
pps Lest you think I'm suggesting otherwise: No one is perfect. We have to constantly be vigilant and sometimes we are not. So then we alter our paths. As I thought about these things tonight I thought of some conversations I need to have with my own kids. Because I'm not perfect and sometimes I'm too hard on them and sometimes I let things go and sometimes I'm tired...
Examining the message driven into our kids: "You can't always get what you want. "
We're scared of giving kids what they want. We think they need to learn the lesson, "you can't always get what you want." I'm not sure why we think they won't learn this on their own. Kids are smart. In our culture of advertising and stuff on top of stuff on top of more stuff, I'm pretty sure they're very aware that they can't always get what they want. I know my daughter is. She feels it keenly.
And it's not always about money. Sometimes kids want the pink plate. Sometimes they want to be barefoot in the park (and this is probably good for them! Check this out about "grounding" or earthing"). Sometimes they want to wear the same Lightning McQueen shirt for weeks on end. And why would someone have to say no to any of those things? Why are we scared to give our kids what they want?
We fear that if we give them too much or say yes too many times to too many requests, then we're creating... spoiled brats or entitled, self-centered, greedy monsters. But consider this: why would our children not learn about generosity from us giving freely to them? And also, how will you ever know if you don't try?
I'm not talking about giving stuff to kids as rewards or as a way to make up for not being able to spend time with them here. I'm talking about genuinely taking an interest in your child's desires. Maybe it is a new toy - a toy that you feel you don't need in your already toy-ladened house. But maybe your child just needs to hear you say, "wow, that is an awesome toy!" Or maybe they need a plan in place to save up for it. Maybe you can surprise them with it.
Gerry loves to watch You-tube videos on our phones. Some of his favorites are the toy-review videos - especially of cars and trucks. He has seen a LOT of cool toys on those videos. And yes, he says he wants them. (Actually tonight what he said was that he wanted to "borrow it for Christmas" Love that boy!) Do I need to bluntly tell him that he can't have that right now? Nope. I can talk with him about how cool they are and that he wants them and really that's about the extent of it.
Marisol has had an allowance since she was a little over 4 years old. We have had different systems that have changed over time for her saving up for toys, for us paying for part or not, and she loves to add things to our Amazon wish list. Sometimes it's tiring for me. I mean it wears on me always hearing about all the stuff she wants. But you know what? I remember feeling that way - at a much older age too. I told her about how when I was a teen (or pre-teen, not exactly sure how old I was) I felt like there were SOOO many amazing CDs out there that I wanted. I actually felt overwhelmed because there was no way I could ever get them all - and this thought was a little depressing (don't judge, I also thought about world hunger for hours on end while I picked rocks on our family golf course... the mind of a teen is very agile - or perhaps I was already a sperm whale even back then).
When I connect with remembering that feeling, I can empathize with my daughter and move from a place of love. We plan and shop around. She changes her mind 20 times a day about what she wants to get next. She spends her whole week's allowance on the extras on "free" iPhone apps. And you know what, she is learning so much. She already talks about the value of toys and what *she* thinks they should cost. She already shows remarkable generosity at times with her friends - both in lending her things and in buying them gifts. And at Disney World last month we had no issues at all with all of the "stuff" and gift shops - she got one tiny stuffed animal from a game and a T-shirt.
But if she had wanted more that would have been fine too! The point is to accept your kids where they are and in time they will amaze you. Right now, I'm realizing that I want to be more generous with her so she feels that to her core. The allowance has been a wonderful tool that we continue to use - but I also want to surprise here with cool things - just because I love her. So we did this month - with a baby bike seat for her dolls on her bike! How cool is that? I was so excited to get it and give it to her! My question to myself right now is, "how generous can I be?"
You know what I want? I want the world to be a better place for my kids. I want World Peace. I want an amazing community to raise my children in. I want to feel loved and cherished and supported. If someone had spent the better part of my childhood telling me I can't always have what I want, guess what? I might think that I can't have those things, that I'm not worthy of them, and that it's not even worth trying for them because they aren't possible.
No thank you. I want my kids to strive for the things they want and to know that I will support them to the best of my abilities as they do so. And if right now that means helping them get the newest Lightning McQueen toy, his blue cup, the coolest American girl accessory, and time with her best girl friend, well that's fine by me. I know that someday they are going to want even bigger and better things. And I can't wait to see what they are.
Do you struggle with getting your kids "stuff"? Is it difficult to find a comfortable place between needs and wants, generosity and practicality? What would if feel like to encourage your kid to go after things they want?
Kids Aren't Convenient
Those three little words (well four if you count the contraction!) have been ringing in my mind for quite some time now - well over a year, if not a few years. (I even thought that they made a nice book title, but then later decided it was too negative.) These words were always a little bit snarky and self-righteous, like duh, come on people get over yourself! But now that they are finally begging to be let loose, they don't even feel that way anymore. They feel heart-felt and a little bit bruised, like a truth that got a little banged up on its way to the world.
Of course, intellectually we know that kids are a lot of work. I remember worrying before Marisol was born if I'd really be able to take care of a baby. And if people knew what raising children truly entails, many more people would choose not to have children. I think many people (like me) just instinctually *want* children and don't give it much more thought. They trust that they will know what to do at the right time. Then of course there are many people that don't really *plan* to have kids, but, well - here they are! Actually, probably people that actively choose NOT to have kids have given the most thought to their decision. And I'm sure this factors into their thought process; they know that kids AREN'T convenient.
But our culture tries to make them convenient. We try to train them to sleep (or not sleep!) when we want them to. We believe that punishments and rewards will mold their behavior into what we want it to be. We fear if we don't control them (what they eat, who they hang out with, what TV they watch, what games they play and on and on) that they will "turn out" the wrong way. We try to put them into neat little boxes so that our lives can mostly carry on in the way we had imagined for ourselves before we had kids.
But kids are not here for us. They are not here for us to re-live or un-live our own childhoods. They are not blank slates for us to write stories on. They are not here to fill our needs and they are not lumps of earth-clay for us to mold.
Here's what we didn't realize:
Kids are real, whole people. They come wired with their own unique personalities. They all have their own opinions (some stronger than others) from the moment they are born (maybe even before! Marisol gave me a strong kick in the ribs once when I bent over on her while pregnant! I should have known then what I was getting into.)
They sleep when they are ready and tired - often not when we expect or want them to. They are ultimately the ones in control of what they eat and when, even if we may try to be for a while. Sometimes you will make breakfast only to have eggs returned to you because you absentmindedly cracked pepper into them, (what can you say, you were in the flow!) and your daughter wants, "no pepper!" So you will sigh inwardly and make more eggs - because you know that *is* how she likes them, and you were the one who screwed up. (This may or may not have happened here this morning.)
Kids will sometimes be nervous or scared of things you don't think they should be. You may spend a LOT of money to take them to the world's most amazing amusement park only to have them nap in the stroller or ride the merry-go-round multiple times (the very same one they could have ridden for a couple of bucks at your local park or mall).
They will need you when you feel like you have nothing left to give. They will express big emotions at inconvenient times (in front of others, right as you are ready to head out the door for an appointment, while you are trying to cook dinner).
No, kids AREN'T convenient. But they *are* a lot of other really, REALLY wonderful things.
Yes, they are hungry. They are hungry ALL. THE. TIME. And this can get tiring. But our attention, love, and nurturing pays off - for us and for them.
Because the good news is that kids more than make up for anything we might have once considered an inconvenience. If we can shift our mindset we will see that we never really wanted or needed "convenient". If we open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts, we will begin to learn more from them than we could ever possibly "teach" them. We may even learn that we want things we never dreamed of wanting!
And this shift in perception is what is really key. How you perceive your children will affect them (and you, and your relationship) - right now and for the rest of their lives. Because you can pick almost any word up there and put a negative spin on it - if you choose to. Creative? Well, yes creative can be messy. Energetic can be hyper or out of control. Imaginative could be unfocused. Curious can be downright annoying. But is that what you really think of your child? And is that how you want them to think of themselves? Would you rather that they KNOW how they want their eggs, or would it be better if they were like the woman in the movie Runaway Bride, who didn't even know how she liked her eggs because she was always such a people(man)-pleaser that she said, "ok" to whatever was given to her?
Bottom line: kids are life changing no matter what. They should be! And change is rarely "convenient". Change can also be uncomfortable, but with a little mind-bending it's as likely to be invigorating and life affirming! It's how we deal with the change that makes all the difference. And if you let your kids, they will guide you on your biggest, best life adventure yet.
Keepin' it Real
Last March I tried out a "schedule" for writing my posts - Mondays were for "Awakenings" and Fridays for "Confessions". The idea behind the confessions was to "keep things real" so I didn't get too "Pollyanna" or sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns here. I quickly ditched the "confessions" idea though with one Final "Ultimate Confession" that I saved as one of the tabs on the top of my webpage. It is kind of like a second "Disclaimer" and it's purpose was to let readers know, "Hello, I'm a real person! Imperfect just like every other human being". Sometimes the images projected out through cyber space lead to distorted images and perceptions in the minds that they land in. (I'm ending this paragraph now, but just wanted to point out that I may have set a record for combined "quotations" and links to my own blog in shortest span ever. So there.)
Anyways, the schedule did "work" (lets keep this "quotation trend" up! Adding a "parentheses trend" too. If you can read this post and it makes sense to you, you are really on top of things.) It "worked" in that I posted regularly and frequently. But I didn't love the whole idea of "confessions" because I felt like I was trying (subconsciously perhaps) to "create" material for those posts. And who wants to start behaving badly just to have something to write about!
Today I *am* going to keep it real. It's not a confession though, because nothing I'm going to write or post pictures of is something I (or anyone) should be ashamed of. (speaking of shame, you must check out Brene Brown's work - brilliant!)
We had friends over on Monday and I wrote the following on my FB Together Walking page:
Inspiration tip: Need some motivation to do some of the mundane things? (You know, like get dressed and pick up around the house) Invite some friends over to your house! You'll be amazed how much you get done in a short time AND you get the added benefit of seeing people you love!
It's true - normally when we have a planned play-date I get SUPER motivated the morning of the play-date, sometimes for a couple of hours, and I'm like a whirling dervish of appendages, brooms, and vacuum extensions. My kids generally keep themselves entertained with computer games or shows and don't complain too much when I'm on such a cleaning binge. (Partly because they are excited to have friends over and maybe they are also confused about what I'm doing.)
But although I love that aspect of inviting people over to my house (or planning parties, having out of town guests, or teaching on the weekends) I also truly believe that it would be healthier for everyone if people were generally more comfortable and honest about the everyday state of their homes. (I joke with my students that I leave a certain amount of mess for them to see so they can see what it's like to have kids. I don't want to set them up for an unrealistic standard after-all! hmm now I'm thinking I should leave things even messier - not in my teaching space, just on the main level where they walk through ;-)
But seriously, many homes where small people live just aren't that neat. Kids don't see the benefit of picking up messes, and actually messes don't look the same to them. (I really want to insert a cartoon I saw on Facebook here - the first frame is black and white and shows a huge MESS in their room, the second frame is in color and the kid is gesturing and clearly explaining to the adult what is *really* going on in the room... it's awesome! If any of y'all know what I'm talking about it and can locate it for me, please leave me a link!)
I'm sure the majority of the time they're like, "why pick up? We're just going to play more tomorrow!" And honestly I think they're onto something. Why do I get my house so clean just to have kids over to trash it?!?
In actuality my comfort level for chaos keeps expanding as my kids push the boundary farther and farther out. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy neat, tidy, dust-free spaces too - I just don't let messes get to me as much anymore.
But even though I'm handling the normal mess of everyday life better, I'm still not handling other people seeing it very well. I still feel the need to apologize or make comments like, "Well, we've really managed to trash the house this week!" It's like I have to say something (to my best friends even) to acknowledge - hey, I *know* it's messy, but really *I'm* not. It's so silly. The state of my house says nothing about me, how capable I am, if I'm a good mother or wife, or whether we are happy. Yet, I know I cannot be the only one who struggles with this. So I've been pushing my comfort zone even more and not worrying (well trying not to anyways) about neighborhood friends dropping in and seeing our crumby rugs, and toy-strewn floors. It's even harder to bite my tongue hard enough not so say anything about it, but I'm getting better at that too.
So today we had friends over and since I was still feeling a bit under the weather, Tasmanian-Devil-Cleaning-Mama didn't make her appearance. The pictures I'm putting up on this post were taken right after our friends left. Most of the mess was there before they arrived and we added to the chaos with hours of fun playing together. I commented to my friend that we should put pictures up of our houses like this and she agreed.
So here they are - what our home looks like more often than not.
My other "keepin' it real" statement for this week is that I'm just not feeling so upbeat the past couple of days. No amount of "affirmations" is doing it for me. And although I posted this on Monday (after our first playdate of the week):
Today may have been the best "first day back to 'normal'" that I've ever had aft e r vacation/time with family. Filled with peace, cooking, connection, nourishing and nourishment, listening, play, time outdoors, creating, connecting, friends... I am so grateful for it all! What a difference knowing what I want to do and how I want to feel makes. ♥
yesterday I was sick and spent the afternoon on the couch. And I longed for support - a tribe, a community, people to play with my kids and keep them happy and fed while I rested. And I wonder if I'm setting myself up to be unhappy by thinking about this all the time. Or is this how we make change, by first envisioning it?
But I *do* know that things always turn around. I will get back to my flow, it just takes time after awesome, sunshine filled vacations! And Spring, warm weather, and long afternoons playing outside are just around the corner here.
*And* I have something new coming up as a "writer" (make that WRITER - no quotation marks for that one!) that is really exciting (how's that for a teaser!) So things will change again and I will come back up to my baseline level of Happy. (Watch this movie/documentary called Happy - so good!)
The ultimate irony is of course that what I am longing for is connection and community. But I sometimes am not comfortable letting it into my life because my house is messy. Wow - seems even sillier when I see it written in black and white like that. Well, at least I'm working on it! And Saturday I start teaching a new Hypnobabies class - so guess who'll be making an appearance this weekend? Yep. Whirling-Dervish-Tasmanian-Devil-Cleaning-Lady. (And you know what? None of these things take that long to pick up - it's more the combined chaos or the Gross House Mess(GHM) that is overwhelming.)
I wrote this at night and just before going to sleep and thought that one of my friend's recent status updates was the perfect way to close this post (Thanks Kelly! Check out her Facebook page for Hypnobabies and doula services here)
Goodnight dishwasher with your clean dishes. Goodnight dishes in the sink. Goodnight laundry pile and Goodnight toys on the floor. Goodnight half-made lunches and Goodnight wet snowpants. Goodnight scribbles and Goodnight markers. Goodnight bills and Goodnight Quickbooks. Goodnight stars Goodnight air. Goodnight noises everywhere.
And this morning I am refreshed and feeling more like myself again. It's amazing how powerful a good night's sleep is!
What do you struggle with more? The mess or letting people see it? Or are you just so Zen that you let it all go?
ps please share if you wish there was less pressure to have a perfect house and more support and community in its place!
Community, Independence, and HELP
I had a total lightning bolt, epiphany moment today. I was taking part in a couple of wonderful conversations in one of my favorite private Facebook groups. One beautiful mama is struggling with postpartum depression. The love and support that flowed from the other women was almost palpable. And it came up more than once how we all wished we were closer so we could physically help this mother instead of just give her "virtual" support. The word "tribe" and "commune" came up and I was moved to tears.
I know that very recently I put forth the idea that maybe parenting isn't all that hard, and that we make a lot of the difficulty ourselves. I still think that is true. But I also think that parenting - especially mothering - is really, REALLY hard in the modern world. Especially in the first months and years when our babies are tiny and depend on others for EVERYTHING.
A few neighborhood friends had babies recently and we chatted a few times in the first few months. Most of them were not first-time moms. One couple admitted that they questioned their sanity in adding another person to their family. I could completely understand where they were coming from. I flat out told the mom that the newborn months are all about survival. Especially when you have older children. It's just the truth.
I have had a refrain in my head lately and it is, "The way we live is just not natural." We long for our tribe. I remember saying those exact words to my mother on the phone when Gerry was a newborn. I have a dream of starting a commune with like-minded families. It's like my own personal utopia. Let me tell you, I have not found a mom yet who thought I was crazy for this idea. Every single one of them either wants to sign up and join my commune or says, "oh yeah, I've thought of joining one too!"
Men seem to be a little more hesitant. And I really think it's because they don't sense the urgency of our need. I know my husband doesn't. And here is where a positive attitude may actually be detrimental. Because I *do* love my life and have really embraced every step of our path so far, it's difficult for my husband to understand the depth of my need - for sisters surrounding me and other children mingling with ours. For someone to talk to. For more hands to help with food and other everyday activities. For camaraderie. For the natural flow of sharing life with others.
I love the neighborhood we live in now. And we've been building up our own support network here: people to check in on our cats when we're away, and friends who bring me soup when I'm sick, lots of neighborhood kids that we play at the park with and have awesome parties with, a neighbor who is like Marisol's third grandmother. And I've learned a lot about how I can build up a supportive network - mostly by giving myself. Because the more I give the more I receive in return.
Ideally we have our "tribe" established before we have children. People who live close to their families often already have a great foundation. But many women (and some men) find themselves very lonely when they bring home their first (or second, or third, or...) baby. Perhaps it is because we are so busy reveling in our freedom and independence when we are young adults and first married. I know I loved our first few years of marriage. We explored, traveled, shopped, worked, played, and relished our time together, just us. We got to see the world through our eyes as a new family. It was wonderful.
Then BAM. We had a little baby and a whole new world opened up before our very eyes. We were responsible for this new little soul, who was completely dependent on us - and it was overwhelming and a little scary. When our first was just over one year old, we moved away from both of our families and struck out on our own. I was without a tribe.
This is true for so many mothers. They are home alone with 1 or 2 (or 5 or 6) children with very little support.
So I was thinking through all of these things this morning when it hit me.
At a time when many mothers (or fathers) are really needing help themselves, children are pushed to be "independent" before they are ready.
Whoa. There *has* to be a link there. Subconsciously how many moms are realizing they just can't do it all alone... and then they turn around and try to make their kids do "it" (whatever "it" may be) themselves? The lack of support given to mothers becomes a weight that is shifted to children, as we all try to cope with our (relatively) new "nuclear" way of living.
And as quickly as this realization came I also knew that until we support our mothers the way *they* deserve to be, kids will not get the lives they deserve.
Does this resonate with you at all? Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments!
I want to share some of the "building blocks" that I feel are essential to building a healthy, loving, and fun relationship with a child. These are some things that have worked really well for me.
1) Spend time with them. Quantity is just as important as quality. Of course when you are with them, really *be* with them too, but in order to really build a strong relationship you need to put the time in. In the case of small children this time may be spent with other adults that they are comfortable with present (ie their parents). You do NOT need exclusive time alone with them to build a relationship, in fact, the best way may be slowly and with others around. Don't wait for everyone else to leave. Also be open to spending time with the child on their terms, when it is good for them. Children have a lot less life experience than you do and are learning new things every day. They are sometimes tired, overstimulated, hungry, or just out of sorts and if you try to push your time agenda (ie when it's "good" or convenient for you), you may lose out.
2) Follow their lead. Watch the shows they like with them. Discuss afterwards. Color with them. Help them with their projects, but let them tell you how you can help. Listen. If they don't feel ready to do something but want you to do it instead - DO IT, don't pressure them to "do it themselves". Avoid correcting them but answer their questions directly if they ask (no "look it up!" needed). Read a book together. Bake. Play hide and seek or a board game. Watch them: do the monkey bars, swim, do silly tricks or make funny faces. Get excited about their new accomplishments and skills.
3) Don't take things personally. If they say no to an idea or an activity that's ok. If they are feeling shy don't push them to interact with you but keep trying and stay available so when they are ready, you are there. If they're having a hard time and say things that hurt your feelings try to remember that they are the child and you are the adult. Be honest with them but also own your own emotions and reactions. Apologize if necessary and accept their ways of apologizing.
4) Have fun! Kids are so good at playing... well, really they are great at plain old LIVING, and they have so much to share with us. It is so worthwhile to foster relationships with them and is beneficial both for you and the child, now and in the future.
How do you build relationships with children in your life? Did I miss anything you consider crucial that you would like to add? Or do you disagree with some of my "building blocks"?
This is a public service announcement. Adults and parents everywhere are being advised that your children *will* get upset, say unkind things, act in ways (that you consider) unreasonable, want attention from you when you are either unable or unwilling to give it, and do many other things that is generally considered "poor" behavior - and (this is the important part) - they will do this REGARDLESS OF YOUR PARENTING STYLE.
Yep, you heard me right. (And you heard it here first! Right?!) It doesn't matter if you are an attachment parent, an authoritarian dictator, a spineless pushover, or 2012's Super-Mom of the year - you will have to deal with behavior that is unpleasant and (seemingly) undesirable.
So the question is, what are you going to do when faced with the inevitable? What kind of human being are you going to *choose* to be? Are you going to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, radical, and different? Or are you going to do what everyone else does, what was done to you when you were a child, what you think you "should" do?
I keep hearing people say that "parenting today is what's wrong with the world" and that "children today have no discipline" and on and on. What if when our children struggle they were met with true love and compassion and actually LISTENED to? What lessons would they learn? How would they react when others were having a hard time - if that is what they experienced? What if when our children behave in a way that makes us angry or uncomfortable or is just plain inconvenient, *we* are the ones who actually need to learn a lesson and change our behavior?
FYI - punishment isn't working. If it was we would have solved these issues by now. But maybe these issues aren't "problems" and maybe they don't need to be "solved". Maybe these are all learning opportunities and when we try to open our hearts, even as we feel them contracting, we will learn even more than our children.
Listen, I get it. It's HARD sometimes to do the loving thing. We get annoyed, and have needs and feelings too. But we are the adults and so we must commit ourselves to acting as such. And when we make mistakes or behave poorly ourselves then we admit it and try to do better. That's what children are here to do. To be children and to show us how we can be better.
The answer is always love. It always has been and always will be. We all know it deep down inside too. Stop being scared - scared of the future and what your child *might* be tomorrow. Start loving the person they are in front of you RIGHT NOW. I promise you won't regret it.
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.