Monday, November 25, 2013

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

I think I have become old and crotchety. At least that's how I feel sometimes. Usually when I am around children aged 5 and below. I love babies...until they are about 2. I don't want any part of tantrums, toilet training, and tattling. We have a long-standing rule in our house that goes like this: Unless someone really hurt you or you hurt them, don't tattle. No, that doesn't mean your brother accidentally bumped into you. No that doesn't mean because you don't live in my house you can tattle. It means don't tattle. Period. I don't play.

My parenting style is far different than the kinder, gentler approach that many young parents take. I'm not going to ask a child to behave. I am going to tell them to behave. I'm not going to please and thank them for doing what they are supposed to do as if it was some favor to me. "Thank you for picking up those blocks you threw across the room when you were frustrated." "Please stop poking your baby sister in the eye!" For Real? I believe in teaching manners, just not like that.

I'm being completely real, friends: Bad. Kids. Get. On. My. Nerves. Come on, parents, we gotta do better! Did your parents discipline you? Do you love them still? Your child is not gonna stop loving you if you discipline them. However, your kid is not gonna respect you if you ask them, "Please stop slapping Mommy in the face; that hurts Mommy's feelings, and makes Mommy cry when you do that." Seriously? That makes me wanna slap myself in the face.

Don't be scared to put the fear of God and MOM in your kids. One time, I walked around Walmart with Lily screaming her head off because, "I told you if you were sassy you couldn't have a sucker, and guess what: YOU WERE SASSY AND YOU ARE NOT GETTING IT." I didn't feel bad for Lil, though I did cut my grocery shopping short because we were disruptive to any people who may have been enjoying their shopping experience.

I got lots of dirty looks, and she got many sympathetic smiles, but it wasn't about me being judged as a mother--I don't care--it was about being a parent and teaching my child that I mean what I say. She may have learned that I was shameless and didn't care about shopping with a screaming, snotty, slobbering 3-year-old, but she also learned that she wasn't gonna get her way with tantrums. And that, my friends, was the LAST fit she threw at the store.

When I see people post articles about tough parenting, I want high five them. We NEED to be tough parents. There's a generation of people walking around with soaring self-esteem and absolutely no reason to feel that good about themselves. Few baseball moms like me because I refuse to say, "good try" to a 12-year-old who misses an easy ground ball. No. GET YOUR GLOVE ON THE GROUND! I don't believe in beating kids down. But I also don't believe in letting them beat us down. And I do believe in keeping it real. Good tries aren't enough in the real world.

My 19-year-old daughter is my very best friend. But I am her mother. I was her mother through some tough choices and bad decisions and guess what: She knows every bad choice I made. My kids know that my love isn't conditional, but if you make a bad choice I'm going to let you suffer some consequences. My little ones know the paths that their dad and I traveled. When we punish them for making wrong choices, it doesn't make us hypocrites, it makes parents who want better for our kids.

And speaking of wanting better: Don't feel guilty if you go to work, it's okay. I worked full-time until my son went to Kindergarten. You know what my older kids remember? The fun stuff we did. The stuff we could afford to do because I worked. And if you stay home? Don't feel guilty about that either. I stayed home with Lily, and she is the least materialistic child I know. Giving your child the gift of your time and attention is better than the latest toys. Those toys will end up in the garbage someday anyway, but your child will carry the gift of your love around forever.

We need to stop giving our power away. We let people's opinions of us keep us from doing our job--raising respectful, compassionate adults who will contribute to this world in a positive way. So yes, I am old and crotchety, and every positive parenting choice I make stands on top of 100 mistakes from which I am still learning, but let me encourage you young parents today: Stay strong. Do your job. Your child will still love you if you discipline them and even better, they will respect you too.

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