Monday, July 30, 2007

Just Saying "No"

Sarah, a fellow twin mom who has her own blog and writes for Strollerderby too, had an interesting post regarding parents who never say no to their kids.

I like Sarah’s writing, she is funny, and smart, and she expresses the joys and crappy parts of raising twins in a way that always connects with me.I posted a comment but rather than go on and on, as I tend to do, I brought it back here.

I am not a very new-agey kind of parent. I use time-outs and I don’t spank but other than that I am rather old school. No means no, Mommy and Daddy are the bosses, and sometimes life is not fair and sometimes we don’t always get our way.

Tom and I are very protective parents. We spend a lot of time keeping our kids out of danger because that, and loving them, is our job. We do not spend alot of time trying to make them happy or trying to make things easy for them. Our kids are very happy, but their being happy comes from them feeling safe and loved and nurtured, as well as from them learning to conquer new challenges and negotiate the slippery slope of toddler social skills.

Right now new things include learning to share, dealing nicely with other kids who don’t share, not falling down the back steps, not running in the street and not hitting someone in the head because he got the coveted blue ball first. Yes, it would be easier to just buy more blue balls, and to just carry the boys down the back steps, and to avoid playing with kids who wont or don’t share, but when would they learn how to deal with all of that if not now, when it naturally arises in their little lives?

I want to protect my kids from things that are dangerous - like drugs and violence and pedophiles and Bratz dolls - but not shield them from the learning experiences that will make them a stronger person.

Earlier this year my sister’s youngest boy, age 7, got a really tough old crone for his first grade teacher. My sister had heard that this woman is nearing retirement and is notoriously tougher on boys than girls. My nephew is all boy and a typical youngest child; very witty and precocious and a ham for attention. His previous teachers adored him and he was used to being the successful star. His first few weeks with this woman were tough. She wasn’t impressed and he spent a lot of time in the “Quiet Chair” and getting his name on the board for talking, He wanted to switch classes, and feeling for the little guy, I might have agreed. But my mother wisely said that he is lucky to have the opportunity now, at this young age, to learn how to deal with someone who doesn’t fall all over him with applause and joy. He stuck it out and is doing very well this year, still popular and a good student, but saving the goofing off for recess.

Lesson learned.

Some parents don’t ever want to say no to their child, and don’t ever want to expose their kids to things that are negative, difficult or scary. For some parents, this includes things as innocuous as report cards; afraid it will diminish their self-esteem and make them feel dumber than the other kids in their class in school if they get a lower grade. I hated report cards in school, HATED them, but I worked to improve my grades because of them.

As an adult, I hate performance reviews, giving them and getting them, but knowing they are coming up makes me pull out my goals and objectives list and see where I am missing the mark and need to focus.

Hey, I hate the scale, but avoiding it isn’t making me thin.

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