It’s another one of those Parenting Bandwagon things. I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand how many books I’ve ever read about parenting. Let me think…. Half. Half of one book on parenting. No kidding. If I’m going to spend time killing myself to death over how to do something, I’m going to read information. If I want advice, I’ll call a friend.
The basics of Positive Parenting as a method, seem to be about recognizing your child as a miniature adult and treating him with respect. Isn’t that nice? Yes, when I walk into a room that’s been painted with shit (oh thank GOD he never did that!), my first thought is going to be “How creative!”, and then I’m going to sit down with the little artist, validate his feelings, and sort out a suitable consequence for his actions. I BLOODY THINK NOT! There will be screaming, there will be a frightening display of anger, possibly some retching and gagging… It will be clear as DAY that painting with shit is not ok. NOT OK!
Mixed media decorating aside- There is a reason we are bigger, stronger and smarter than children! We are meant to protect them from harm, to guide them into adulthood, and ultimately protect OURSELVES from THEM! Can you imagine a 180lb three year old? – no, I don’t mean the one you’re married to- Could you stop one from running into the street with reasoning? Do you believe that validating the feelings of an adult size toddler is going to prevent him from pulling the tail off of the cat or pushing his sister down the stairs for not sharing her cookies? NO!
If children were to grow to adult size in the first five years, we would be using cattle prods.
In the real world- the adult world, there are tough consequences. Sometimes these consequences are totally out of proportion with the action. And sometimes, we are forced to accept that the rules aren’t always what they are for a good reason; they are just The Rules. Nor do these Rules and Consequences apply to everyone equally. Life is not fair.
My boss (back when I had one) did not give a flying f*ck how I felt when he told me I couldn’t change my hours because of child-care needs. It wasn’t actually “fair”, he had given that option to other employees before me. Even though I was pissed, and most everybody agreed with me, I had no misconceptions that life was wonderful and fair to everybody. I shared my feelings on the matter and it didn’t make a damn bit of difference in the situation, but I certainly didn’t have a cow about it. It was ultimately up to my boss to decide, and he had no policy on transparent decision making. He made decisions from time to time that followed the classic “Because I Said So” model. And guess what- he’s the boss. He may use the feedback he gets to change his policy from time to time, and obviously gets some things right, or he’d have nobody to work for him. Honestly, I still like the guy. I respect his right to exercise authority over his employees.
At home, I am the boss. I am in charge. My son does talk back. He makes it abundantly clear when he doesn’t like the way it is. The best thing I can do for him is to say “I’m sorry you feel that way, that doesn’t change the fact that I make the rules, and I say that you are not allowed to (insert challenge to authority here).” I change policy occasionally based on the feedback that I get. As he grows and learns, he develops the ability to reason to a degree, and I adjust accordingly. He has enough sense to walk himself to the bus stop a block away, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let him wander the neighborhood as he pleases. Just because he can turn the TV on by himself doesn’t mean he can make sound decisions about what to watch. Not yet anyway.
I would LOVE for my son to grow up in a world that is fair. But teaching him to expect it as his right would be doing him a great disservice. I want him to know that his feelings DO matter, but that they might not always make a difference. There will be times when “Because I said so” is the only answer he will get, and I’m sure that I will not be the last person to say to him; “I’m sorry you feel that way, but…”
So the Positive Parenting Bandwagon is fading in the distance up the dirt track, and we are plodding along on the lonely road of Parenting Realistically. That’s the way it is here, and if you don’t like it, you can go to your room!
Oh by the way- he learned to ride a bike 🙂 I had to bribe him! Baaahahahahahahahha