Disappointing Your Kids | Giftie Etcetera: Disappointing Your Kids

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Disappointing Your Kids

On Supernanny last night, a lady was letting her 4 year old suck a paci because she "didn't want to disappoint" her kids. Her eight year old (and the two younger sisters) were still sleeping with mom, while dad slept on the couch, because it broke mom's heart to make the kids sleep in their beds. The kids got to do whatever they wanted, because otherwise they would cry, and mom couldn't deal with crying.

I've seen other people give in to their kids. I've seen parents be very sad because their kids were "hurt" by being told no or not getting what they wanted. The parents I've seen were seriously upset. I've seen them bribe their kids to return to the dinner table, or not hit others, or whatever it is that I would have just expected from the child, without a bribe. (I'm not above bribes, BTW...;)...just not for these things!)

I never understand it, no matter how many times I see it.

It never breaks my heart that Ander cries because he doesn't get a candy or toy at the store. I shrug and move on. He wants to play in the park...and I need to get home and make supper? Shrug. We go home. Ander goes in timeout for (usually) hitting mommy when he gets frustrated and cranky. Yes, I realize he only does this when frustrated. But I still don't feel bad that he is crying. I actually feel empowered, because I get to calmly change the behavior from unacceptable to acceptable behavior.

I know these other parents aren't faking the sad feelings. They truly feel bad. The lady on Supernanny clearly felt awful.

But I just don't get it, even a little. I've had people acuse me of being cold as a parent. I'm certainly not. It breaks my heart when Ander cries - if he cries because he is hurt or sick. It breaks my heart if he cries because his feelings are hurt by someone. Except, of course, if what hurt his feelings was getting in trouble for something he should have not have done. Then, I don't feel bad at all. It's not like I ignore the bad feeling; I simply do not feel it.

People talk about "mothering instinct." I never really thought I had it. I still don't. I don't mother by instinct. I parent based on addressing my child's needs, including setting boundaries, providing stimulation, and demonstrating positive human interactions.

And I'm not sure of this, but maybe by "mothering instinct," people mean this sadness moms seem to get when their kids are upset, no matter the reason behind the upset. If that is what people mean, then I'm glad I don't have that. If I did, I'd either have to ignore my instinct OR give in to my child, and either sounds horrible for my kid.

I am always worried about disappointing my kid. I'm worried he won't think I'm a person he can trust. I'm worried that he will see me slip and do something unethical and judge it (meaning that I'm even more ethical now that my already anal state of trying to always do the right thing). I am scared that he will think I'm not a good enough person and be disappointed.

But I never care if I disappoint him by not giving m&ms on demand.




Mamaebeth said...

no, i don't think that is mothering instinct. for me mothering instinct is the urge to protect and care for your child. some people have a hard time protecting and caring for their child appropriately... well i think everyone struggles with that really, but the it is the urge to protect and care for, not how you act on it.

pacatrue said...

Sounds good to me. One has to balance making the child adjust to his family and environment and, at the same time, making sure the child feels they have some control of their lives. On the latter, being able to go to the park periodically is clearly more important than m&ms.

elle said...

Oh my, I so understand this. You wouldn't believe how many of my relatives accuse me of being "mean" to my son because the tears don't manipulate me. My sister's son cries, she stands firm for all of three seconds and then it's, "OK, but next time..."

And next time it's the same thing because he's learned the "power" of his tears.