Friday, June 19, 2009

Allow and Resent

No, not Allen Drury's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Advise and Consent. Although I really enjoyed the novel and would recommend it, I'm talking about a parenting mistake pattern I found myself slipping into recently.

I call it "allow and resent". That is, my two-year-old asks to do something or not do something, and I really want the opposite thing to happen. It's not an out-and-out rules situation, so I allow his request. Then, usually within minutes (or seconds), I regret that I've just bent my will to that of a two-year-old. This leads to resentment. That leads to clenched teeth and moaning.

"Yes, I let you stay in your high chair because you said you were still eating that sandwich, but now it's really, really time for your nap."

"Gaaa, I knew I shouldn't have let you eat that Hershey kiss while wearing your nice soccer jersey without a bib! Now, it's everywhere."

Well, once detected, I started nipping the behavior in the bud. Mine, that is. If what he's doing doesn't line up with our rules or schedule, it's my job as the parent to make my answer and stand firm. The upshot? His protests are weak and short-lived. There is not much to fear in his tantrums. Life might be different if I had one of those scream and flail till it looks like a seizure kids. But actually, I don't think that. I think my Teddy is testing my limits and when he finds that I actually have and enforce limits, he's relieved. It means he doesn't have to be in charge.

In fact, he has a complimentary pattern to mine: resist, then comply. The boy will cry all the way into the bathroom and then stand in front of the potty and drop trou and sit down.

Lord, grant me the courage to stick to my guns.

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