Monday, March 28, 2011

Are We All Raising a Bunch of Brats?

A week or so ago, I read an article on Babble that asked "Am I Raising a Brat?" That article's really stuck with me and I've found myself coming back to it several times. I consider my parenting style to be fairly middle of the road - I'm neither free-range nor helicopter in my approach (So I believe, anyways - I suppose it's all a matter of perspective to some degree). When it comes to discipline though, I feel like things get so muddy.
In the article, the author, Anne Fitzpatrick, seems to be unsure where to draw the line in the disciplinary aspect of parenting and I'm right there with her. While I don't want my kids running amok and so ill-behaved that other people don't want to be around them, I also don't want them to be so regimented that "compliance" is the only goal. Not only do those kids creep me out a bit, I find myself pitying them for having lost their spark or "will" so early in life. If the party line is merely to obey and never to question, what happens to those children as they grow older? Do they just do whatever their friends, spouses, bosses tell them without questioning? Surely that's not good either.
Fitzpatrick, quotes her mother as saying consistency is the key. This is pretty much one of the 10 Commandments of parenting, is it not? I can honestly say I'm consistent in my approach, consistently inconsistent that is. How to be consistent in a way that doesn't crush their spirit while also teaching them what's socially acceptable? It sounds so easy. While I strive to have set rules that are firmly understood and the resolve to follow through with any of my "threats" for time-outs, toy banishments, etc., in practice I find it's not always that easy.
For one, my children rarely seem to act up while I'm unoccupied. Oh no, they wait until I'm changing someone else's poopy diaper and know that I can't abandon the task to deal with their poor behavior. Or, they act up in line at the post office, where I can't give a time-out and there are no toys to confiscate. So, I'm left begging and bribing them for their cooperation. Hardly authoritative and hardly effective.
I have a friend who is a master with discipline. When her daughter starts to act up, she's able to get down at her daughter's level and calmly talk to her, explaining why such behavior is not accepted and her daughter listens. My friend's a former teacher, so I don't know if it's some magic skill they learn while getting their degree, or if her daughter's just more receptive to it. Every time they do it, I watch, mesmerized, studying her tactics like a fighter watching videos of his opponents before a big fight, trying to learn the subtle nuances of her game. However, when I try the same approach with my daughter I get a big "No, I don't want to talk about that," as she tries to squirm away. Then, I start yelling...
For now, I guess, I just have to have faith, creativity, and wine. Faith that I'm trying my best, which will surely account for something at the end of the day. Creativity to continue to devise new ways to bring about the best behavior in my kids in a way that works for our family. And wine, for the days when my best just doesn't cut it and I need to have a little drinkie-poo at the end of a day, where the score reads Kids: 2, Moms: 0.


  1. Its tough thats for sure. I find myself doubting, second guessing, beating myself up, and left wondering why & how did mom make it look soo damn easy all the time...
    Glad i'm not alone.. =)
    New follower from Social Moms Hope you can stop by or if you're an iphone fan.

  2. Faith, creativity and wine sounds about right for me, too! Thanks for blogging my article, it was cool to read such a thoughtful discussion of my piece. Your description of one kid waiting to act up until you are in the middle of a poopy diaper minded me of what my dad said after reading my essay: he said it was was easy for me to say that now, but just wait until I have four kids instead of one, and I'll see the value in "I told you so." Maybe so. Maybe I'll just stick to one. Or two. Hmmm ....

  3. Anne, thanks for stopping by and checking us out. I don't know, the moms I know with 4+ kids seem to be calm and in control. Much more so than me, with just the two. Either they're all sedated or they seriously have their acts together.

  4. Debra, thanks for stopping by - off to check out your site now.

  5. I am wondering if that friend of yours who is great with calm discipline and used to be a teacher is the same friend that I have? Or do all moms know at least one mom like that just so they can compare themselves against? Have you read this article?



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