My thoughts on what makes a good parent has changed much over the years. My mother always told me to never say never when it came to kids, and boy, was she right. I had such grand thoughts before I had children…
I was never going to raise my voice. I was never going to say, “Because I said so.” I was never going to be that parent that had to physically drag my child anywhere.
After having my first child it wasn’t long before that first “never” went by the wayside. And trust me, I tried. I didn’t start by raising my voice. But sometimes, I swear, they couldn’t hear me until I’d lost my mind and given myself a sore throat. But as I grew into the parenting role through practice, things started to change. I actually don’t yell all that often anymore. I don’t need to. I’ve learned to stop talking until I have their attention. I’m a talker so when I go silent everyone notices, so this technique works like a charm for me.
I also didn’t start out breaking the second “never” until my kids were about three. You can only explain yourself so many times before you can’t take the “why” anymore and just say, “Because I said so.” As my kids have gotten older, I’ve learned to toss their whys back at them with questions of my own. “What are the house rules for late nights? Why do you think that’s a good idea? What might be a downside to that choice?” Making them have to verbally work out why they should or shouldn’t do something has all but ended the “Because I said so” argument. However, every once and a while they still try to get cheeky when told no, so “Because I said so” may truly never be gone. Good thing I’m a parent who can live with not being perfect.
The last “never” I failed at almost immediately. But I don’t regret failing at this one at all. It’s amazing how stubborn kids can be, and how strong you can be when they’re pitching a hairy fit in a public setting. Yeah, I’ll drag you all the way if I have to.
Over the years, I’ve master the ability to cross my arms and raise my eyebrows in such a way when I say one my kids’ name that they pretty much come running. Even last week, while we were at a seven-on-seven football tournament, I said my youngest son’s name with that look. You better believe he came running. He didn’t care that it made the other boys chuckle at his quick response to me. He knows I don’t use it lightly, and I’m dead serious and not above grabbing him by the ear to have a little talk.
You know, the more I think about it, maybe it’s not me getting better at being a parent. Maybe it’s that my children know my expectations and have learned to manipulate the situation to keep me pacified. Smart little buggers, but I remember being one too.