62. Slip Up: Write about making mistakes.ThinkWritten.com
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately.
Mostly they’re from dear friends of mine–fellow mothers–who have questions about how I might handle a certain parenting situation.
While I’m flattered that they turn to me, I also kind of worry about why they feel they can ask me for advice.
But hey! If people think I have my s*** together, then great! I’ll take it.
(I do not really have my s*** together.)
A Recent Query
A friend recently asked me, “Jane, how would you handle it if your partner were putting your oldest kid to bed, but the kid wanted YOU to put her down, and ended up having a complete meltdown and begging for you to come.”
Essentially, the question was: do my partner and I look weak for caving into our daughter’s tantrum over who puts her to bed?
My short answer was: No. You do not look weak.
A Little Background
The back story to this was that there’s a baby sibling involved (jealousy), they are on vacation with family (meaning lots of activity and sleep deprivation), the kid has recently given up her pacifier, she’s dropping her afternoon nap…
In short, as any parent of a 3-year-old reading this can guess, the entire situation is a hot mess.
Such times are not times to dig your feet in and insist that your child do what you say BECAUSE YOU SAID SO.
It sounded to me like that kid needed to get to bed ASAP and the best thing was to get her to bed in the quickest and calmest way possible.
And so in response to my friend’s question, I said:
No. You are not weak or undisciplined for giving into your daughter’s demand for her mother to put her to bed.
It’s Not Admitting Defeat
Raising our kids is not raging war (no matter how much it might feel like it sometimes).
We, as parents, do not always have to win.
Don’t get me wrong, I am the first person to want my kids to snap to order when I say “go” (see my recent article about my overuse of the word No).
But when they don’t, when they fight back, protest, or throw tantrums, it does not mean that we the parents have lost.
In fact, I’ve learned that sometimes my kids throw fits or have meltdowns because I am being either unreasonable or terribly unsympathetic.
Admitting Weakness Gives Strength
One thing I’ve tried to work on, is being able to take a step back in the heat of the moment and look at a situation from my child’s perspective.
When you’re locked in a power struggle, it can be so difficult to get yourself out of that mindset, and to ask yourself, “Why is this happening?”
Another thing I’ve tried to do is to say, “Mama’s got it wrong. I’m sorry. Let’s try again.”
For our older son, it really works with him to get down to his eye level, and say, “We’re having some trouble here. Let’s figure this out together.”
Strange to say it, but he seems reassured when we admit that we’re wrong. It’s like he’s relieved to know that it’s not just he who thinks that a situation is coo-coo bananas.
Sometimes the kids are being pig-headed.
Often times, I’m the pig-headed one.
Either way, we all make mistakes. Hopefully, our children will learn from our example that admitting to our mistakes does not make us weak.
Pick Your Battles
And “caving in” (or, as I like to call it, “picking your battles wisely”) does not make you a weak parent.
It makes you a smart parent.