I felt compelled to respond to a post I read yesterday, “Permissive Parents: Curb Your Brats” by LZ Granderson on CNN.com, and stand up for my spineless parenting style.
I started out my parenting career with a lot of opinions and what I thought was a lot of patience. As the first 2.5 years of my son’s life went by, I realized I had no patience. I found myself yelling and scolding, many times in public so I would not be seen as an incompetent parent. The problem was, I wasn’t getting any where with my child. I was sick of yelling and decided to take another approach.
What got me fired up about this article was the overall tone that some parents do nothing to discipline their children. My question is: what would you have a parent do?
How should parents respond in private or in public to a defiant child?
A public spanking? I am pretty sure child services would be contacted about that parent.
How about a public announcement to the strangers in the store? ‘Don’t worry fellow community members, little Molly will be properly dealt with when she gets home.”
I have seen parents screaming at their children and all I can think is, “Wow, that parent is way more annoying and ignorant than their child.”
I have been that disheveled parent who gets smacked in the face by her 3-year-old. I responded in a similar way as the woman in your article, “You do not hit mama.”
After 2.5 years of being an impatient parent, I decided to take on a new approach. I decided to explain to my child what the rules are and not get sucked in to their out-of-control behavior by responding with an equally out-of-control response like yelling or corporal punishment.
Why must I scream out in horror and “discipline” my child in front of the world? To appease strangers?
Maybe the “old school” way of parenting isn’t the best way for all children. And using public discipline in order to appear to be in control in front of strangers is ludicrous.
When my child hit me in the face, my first response was not to hit him back. After all, what kind of message would that be sending? Hit me and I hit you back? I didn’t want to spank my child because I wanted to send him a message. A patient and positive message.
Don’t misunderstand me, we have rules in our house. No whining, you listen to your parents the first time, we speak with kindness and respect, no hitting...(Keep in mind these are rules for a 3 and 5 year old.) If you do not obey the rules, something you treasure is taken away or for the 3-year-old, you sit on a step for a period of time.
Our children’s wishes are not always top priority and I use the phrase, “I am not your slave”, on a daily basis. The bottom line is, we have rules in our house that will be obeyed. But even though we have rules, they are broken! I am not raising a mindless drone who has no opinion. My kids have ideas and opinions, just like I do. What I have realized is that my children have to learn to obey the rules. And this takes time and patience on my part.
Most will read this post and roll their eyes in judgement and think, “What a naive parent, raising a house full of brats with her dreams of using patience with discipline.” (After all, over 100,000 people liked "Curb Your Brats" on Facebook.)
What amazes me is that we are constantly talking about acceptance and not judging others for whatever it may be, you fill in the blank. It’s articles like these that set us back from truly accepting each other for our flaws and further putting stress on parents who are really trying to rear some well-behaved and pleasant kids.
No, not everyone is making the best choices when it comes to parenting. Yes, some people think the world revolves around their children and they do not need to discipline them. But there are people like me in this mix of parents who are trying with all their strength to do it right.
You see, I believe children learn from example. They are brought into the earth with a clean slate, like little sponges who soak up and observe every sound and image they see.
And then, they repeat everything they see and hear. If your child is getting a consistent and positive message at home, eventually I believe this message will reflect in their actions. But this process takes time.
The problem I find is that many people fail to realize this child-rearing thing is a learning process on both ends. The kids are learning the rules and the parents are learning that every opinion they had pre-baby should be thrown out the window.
Children do not learn on the first try and parents must be patient with them.
My goal is to equip my children with positive ways to respond to stress which does not include screaming and lashing out at someone in an out-of-control rant or using corporal punishment. You can use firm rules, love, and patience. Please note: this takes practice on the parents part. If you are not willing to go all the way and change your response to stress, you will never succeed in raising your child this way.
If that is a spineless parenting style, I guess I’m spineless.
I do agree there are many places small children do not belong like upscale restaurants, R-rated movies, and the symphony. Taking small children to these places is setting them up for failure and yes, ruining the atmosphere for other adults.
But, there are so many public places that are casual and acceptable places to take my children. I am sorry, but I must take my children to the grocery store and do my best to keep them distracted and happy long enough to get my items and out the door without a meltdown. Airplanes are open to the public and unless we try to expose our children to these situations, they will not know how to behave in them. Again, they are learning.
Yes, there is some bad parenting out there. But I refuse to be lumped in to a group of people who are considered spineless idiots when I am working my butt off to raise responsible, loving, confident, and well-behaved adults - without yelling at them or roughing them up.
No one is responsible for my children but me, however, we do live in a world where children are everywhere. We can’t get rid of them, but we can change how we respond to these difficult and yes, I will admit, annoying situations.
Can’t we try to be patient with each other?
I am sure we have all had ugly moments in our life and would prefer it if strangers were not rolling their eyes and judging us. Right?
I could go on and on, but I have some children to rear. I appreciate the fact that you have so much passion behind your writing, Mr. Granderson, but your judgmental post inspired me to stick up for myself and the other parents who choose to use something other than a dirty look and corporal punishment for discipline. I feel compelled to reach out and ask you to be a little more understanding during this learning process and I will do my best to get my children out of Noodles and Company before they ruin your meal.