So I just read an interesting op-ed on the NY Times (does anyone read an actual paper anymore? Besides my in-laws that is…), Confessions of a Mother Who Couldn’t Say No. While the author knew there were benefits to both herself and her child in saying “no” more often, or intervening less (much like all those French parenting books that are so popular claim), she found she pretty much sucked at doing that. And, now, as the mother to a 16-year old, she’s wishing she had done it more.
But even more interesting than the piece itself are the vitriolic comments of readers left below. One commenter shares that they don’t intervene in playground politics amongst the kids at the playground, and another accuses them of raising a “bully” who can’t share, to another who calls the author a “lackluster” and “self-absorbed” parent for not having considered the consequences of her actions on her children before she did them. Basically, everyone has an opinion and wants to be heard.
But I can totally sympathize with the author. Little Miss is at that age of being oh-so-fun and oh-so-frustrating at the same time. The tiniest, most surprising things can set her off (i.e. this morning it was because she wanted to be picked up but not if I had an apron on. “Mommy, take off!, Take off!”) No matter what you think is “right” or not, saying “no” is hard for any parent – no one likes having to deal with the consequence of the trembling lip, the hurt face and the howling tears that often accompanies “no”. Some of us just have more resistance than others. My mom would not be one of those. Every time she’s over and hears me say “no”, then witnesses the tears, I get scolded with (what I believe to be) ridiculous statements like “you shouldn’t let a baby cry” (ummmm…she’s TWO), to “saying ‘no’ too often will result in a cold child who resents you”, and apparently in the convenient memory (or lack thereof) that all grandparents seem to have, she never said “no” to us – despite my clear memories of this happening. I’m pretty sure whenever she babysits if anything seems to make Little Miss unhappy, a magical cracker whips out of her purse (another battle to deal with later, sigh).
But I do think it’s important that kids learn some lessons on their own and learn they can’t get everything they want….but within reason. I may let her figure out sharing battles on her own, but if she’s about to stick her hand in a flame, or get clocked by some kid on a swing, I will definitely be the one running over to stop her. And while the hubby may be better at ignoring the meltdown tears and walking away, I will probably still give her a hug a few minutes later whether it’s to the detriment of her entire life or not. That’s just who I am, and that’s okay with me.
All this to say, this parenting thing ain’t easy and that’s what wine and chocolate are for 🙂
* The above picture is what happened when Dad found her drawing all over herself with a Sharpie, pointed it out, and she noticed the mess on herself as if she hadn’t been drawing on herself for the past 5 minutes. Logical, no? Hilarious? Yes!