Having previously posted (rambled on) some of the pain points experienced to date, from trying to follow the example perfect “digital” parents to suffering the backlash of our discipline coming back to bite us in the ass, this weekend I intended to have a post full of the joys of parenting. The computer says…. Ehhh-Errr…
We have fallen into many traps as parents in regards to discipline. Firstly as Mum and Dad our views and ideals differ madly, secondly we let others, either directly or indirectly, affect our methods, thirdly we “discuss” openly our disagreements (being honest here Mum generally lays into Dad). All of these things in the last few weeks have really bit us in the ass.
Our daughter who is nearly four years old essentially behaves in the manner in which we have treated her. There is nothing more horrifying than seeing her bad behavior come seemingly from your enforcing good behavior. So let’s go-over cause an effect…
Our daughter is massively polite and has a real way with words, able enough to twist them in a way she generally gets what she’s after. However should the response be not to her liking then the conversation begins with moaning, to crocodile tears, to shouting and finally screaming. The moaning will be a repeat of the request, the tears will be “I will tell Mum/Dad on you” or “you don’t love me anymore now bhai (brother) is here”, then it will head into shouting threats “I’m going to runaway” or “I’m going to throw (desired object) away” and lastly outright screaming in a Hulk come X-Men Apocalypse Gene Grey becomes Phoenix scream…
Now if we re-imagine this scenario to picture instead of a four year old girl to a much older parent enforcing discipline we have. Firstly the polite request “please tidy up the toys” or “please could you wait whilst we stop baby crying”, this leads not into tears but a little moan “why don’t you listen” to “you always do this”, then as the parent-child oven turns up the level of volume increases to way above normal “GO TO THE STAIRS” or “UP TO YOUR ROOM”. There we have it the sweet science of how punishing the kids is punishing the parent.
All of this is before you take into account that children will see and understand the interaction between parents and use it to divide and conquer. They will also see that when the grand-parents, aunties, uncles and friends are around they can ratchet up a good amount before the punishment kicks in.
So as we are now reaping what we’ve sowed what are we doing? Well as a starting point as we usually do we are behaving very differently as parents. This weekend was a particularly naughty one both Saturday and Sunday form my daughter woke up and spent the whole morning crying, moaning and shouting as her needs were not met and she went fully into Verruca Salt mode (I WANT, I WANT, I WANT).
Mum opted to bring the naughty list back in (note. when Dad introduced this without consultation there was severe disagreement) before 10am it was maxed out thus Mum took some toys away from our daughter (the toys remained in the box). As a Dad I opted to simply not raise my voice (explaining to her that I’m not going to shout at her anymore) but try and discuss feelings and how hurtful her behavior was. Don’t get me wrong I’m not all of a sudden some luvvie who cuddles rather than enforcement, I explained there would be no swimming, parks or treats.
So how did this go down? Firstly Mum did raise her voice and shout so we were different there however both of us enforced punishment. Our daughter didn’t miss her toys as she has bloody hundreds whilst they were in the box she didn’t pick them up. Throughout both mornings she ran between us to “tell on you” or that “Mummy shouted at me”, each time we bought her in-front of us both and put on a united front.
On Sunday the deal was unless she behaved (after a terrible morning) she can’t leave the house in the afternoon, I painstakingly cleaned the car (first time ever having owned the car for four years) seeing as I had child-free activity time. She behaved impeccably through the remainder of the morning and early afternoon to the point we went Sofa shopping, the perfect place for children to demonstrate their powers of misbehavior for all to see. Happy to report she was remarkable behaved, polite and courteous, Dad however needed a dose of caffeine and opted for a wafer layered with dark chocolate. I opened the packet ate my fix and passed one to Mum. Our daughter didn’t ask, having already explained there would be nothing but water to my daughter (she put down the juice without a word). At this point Mum started to buckle “give her one, she’s been good”… The lines was marked in the sand thankfully our daughter remained oblivious. I reminded Mum of the gravity of this morning’s behavior and stay strong, (also having busted my ass cleaning the car I deserved this) at this point we could’ve gone thermo-nuclear but in a compromise agreed if the behavior is good then okay for a wafer after dinner.
So what’s the moral here. There isn’t one. As parents we will differ wildly and react differently and continue to let others around us influence our discipline. All we can do is remain true to our word and discuss our approaches to try align them. We will work damn hard to ensure our way of making the children understand, comply and learn will be in a way we would like to also be treated as our children need to make us understand, comply and learn.
One this is for absolute certain, how we punish our daughter in the years to come will boomerang back to us. So not only will I be more often washing the car or performing house chores instead of sunny day’s on the beach, we will continually be swallowing very bitter pills of realisation.
P.S. I have bought two books as a way of guiding me, “Man Up – How do Boys become better Men” (Rebecca Asher) and “Not in your Genes – The real reasons children are like their parents” (Oliver James). Let’s see what wisdom is there to be garnered from these!