This week’s question popped up during a conversation with SquarePiece at the salon.
As a parent, were there times when you made decisions that your children may not have liked, but you stood your ground? Were there times when you considered changing your mind but knew it would be best not to?
For the most part I was, and still am, a “helicopter” mom; and by that I mean that I tend to “hover” nearby so that I can immediately address any needs or issues that pop up. However, not wanting to be a grandmother who creates conflict in regards to parenting rules or expectations that may be different than my own techniques, I’m careful when I’m watching Bennett to do things the way his momma does things. SquarePiece is more lenient on allowing her little one to explore than I was in raising her, but that is mostly because I cannot *hear* what the wee ones are getting into, so I need to *see* them in order to know that they’re not getting into trouble or hurting themselves. Even when I could see them, I tended to put them in a playpen or walker or otherwise limit their explorations. It’s sad, because we missed out on the simple things that my grandson now enjoys, like taking all the sandwich baggies out of their container, or emptying out a cabinet in the kitchen. It’s all one big adventure for him. Although I’ve been a parent for 35 years, I’m still learning and adapting, especially in this new area of being a grandparent. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I really admire the freedom that Suzy gives Bennett when it comes to learning new things.
As for decisions and standing my ground, well, in my home I am very strict in many areas, although I try to be flexible. I admit, I am the mom that gets those looks by other parents when I don’t allow my children to participate in certain activities that their peers are allowed to do. After having left the nest, the eldest three have each told me that they appreciated how I raised them. Joey, who is now 26, most recently said that the one thing he really admired about my mothering is that I am “consistent” … which really meant a lot to me and encouraged me when I was dealing with the youngest two (now 16 and 15) over one of those “stand your ground” areas. It does get challenging sometimes, but it pays off when they finally realize that getting angry, slamming doors, sulking or having a demanding attitude won’t change my mind. Naturally, it’s hard for them to see their friends/peers do what they’re not allowed to do, but the nice thing about not allowing one child to do something is the ability to tell the next one, “I didn’t allow Mandy (or Suzy, or Joey, etc) to do that and they survived. Don’t expect me to change this rule with you.” Eventually though, they each learned that I will listen to them and hear what they have to say, if they approach me with respect. I might not change my mind, but I will talk it over with them and often they will see the logic or wisdom behind my decision. It seems to help when I sit down with them and explain the reason behind these decisions, rather than brush it off with a “because I said so” or “because I’m the mom” response.
Having a respectful attitude is super important in our home. We have a rule where fighting, especially in the form of sibling rivalry, is not allowed. The kids may “disagree” with each other, but they’re not allowed to be physical, rude, disrespectful or otherwise snarky with each other. That does not mean that they won’t fight behind my back (and I have heard stories years later about various incidents), but they know that they cannot do this in my presence and expect me to take sides or join in with them against one or the other. While I expect civilized disagreements and respectful, if not courteous, tones, I don’t ignore what’s happening and I will mediate a disagreement when necessary. Not too long ago I had to address this particular issue when I heard a good bit of squabbling coming from the youngest two and our exchange student. Having heard all sides of the story and having encouraged them to understand each other’s perspectives, when the squabbling continued and they tried to get me to “take sides,” I immediately put a stop to it and said, “I have enough to deal with taking care of your father and this house, you guys need to work this out!” It took a couple of days for hurt feelings to subside, but they did work it out. In fact, that experience created a special bond that cemented their sibling respect for each other.
The hardest area where I have to stand my ground is with their grades; I don’t expect my kids to be students who make straight A’s and get their name on the Honor Roll every six weeks; I do, however, expect a minimum grade of 77, which is the lowest C they can make. If they don’t meet that expectation then they lose ALL forms of entertainment, whether it be TV, Facebook, computer time, video games, talking on the phone, concerts, games, sleepovers or any other activity with their friends. The only thing that’s left is for them to read, listen to music, bake something, chat with Mom about various random topics or work on bringing their grade up. I struggle with this one the most, because I want them to have fun and hang out with their friends, but their education is very important to me, so this is one on which I’m going to have to stand firm.
I hope I was able to answer your question … I feel like I was rambling a bit this time ….
I’m always bragging on the way you held your ground. Even with three kids and no “back up,” you never let us bowl you over. You knew that if we saw weakness, we’d eat you for breakfast.
I DEFINITELY always wanted to know the “whys” of your yes’s and no’s. Perhaps that’s something that you’ve gotten stronger at expressing with time and experience. In fact, I remember you teasing me that you were going to change my middle name to “Why?”
There were definitely moments of strong disagreement and exasperation with your decisions (since children are typically only thinking about themselves), like when you wouldn’t let me buy a “belly shirt” at the thrift store. (I think I teared up over that one.) But in hindsight, obviously your mothering was and is top notch.
Donna, i think you’ve done a great job–the evidence is in your kids!
Top notch, indeed! I wouldn’t have changed a thing about how you protected and raised your “cubs”. I will always look up to you. Your strength. Your wisdom. Your perseverance. Seeking God and His ways proved that we are all the better for it. So glad that my dad left the picture, too. I can’t imagine how we would’ve turned out had he stayed! My frame of mind would’ve been a wreck. I thank God for you, mom, all the time. I love you. Oh and I so remember Sunanna’s “but whys”. LOL.
Looking forward to seeing how she handles that stage with Bennett. 🙂
I’ve always felt like I have the heart of a teacher. I love explaining “why” to people. I’m a square piece motivated by details and reasoning, so look forward to it!
Amen! Can you talk about growing up with a hearing loss and the family not knowing it was a problem for you and when and how they did discover that>
Will do! now I have a topic for next Monday, thanks!
What a great response. It is obvious when listening to Square Piece speak of you, that she has the utmost of respect for you and your parenting. Equally obvious is the excellent job you did and are still doing raising your children. Your family is evidence of consistency creating security and respect strengthening healthy relationships. Looking forward to hearing about your hearing problem next week……
Thank you! 🙂