I’ve been reflecting a lot on my parenting style recently. James has started (for the first time) to actually act a little naughty in public and I’ve had to consider how I’m going to approach his behavior while we are out and about without embarrassing or shaming him or compromising my parenting because of being around other parents. I hate to admit it, but I think I subconsciously consider how other parents will think of me when they see me do my thing. We probably all do, actually. It’s interesting, though, because I have never felt more confident about anything in my life than I do about my parenting (not to say I think I’m the best mom in the world, but I have had the best examples of motherhood in my life and I know if I am prayerful and humble I am the best mom for my kids…). But there is still an outside influence to it that stems from insecurity when I’m around other parents. I think maybe it has to do with me wanting to prove that I’m a good parent? But it usually ends up looking like I’m not. When I realized all this, I came to a conclusion. I do not need to prove how good of a parent I am to anyone in the world accept my kids and my husband! If I’m too worried about trying to prove myself to other parents, it compromises my consistency with James and could affect his level of trust in me down the road.
Anyway, over-analytical much?
I really do ponder upon different philosophies and approaches and styles of discipline and correction all the time. Basically, the idea of parenting the best I can is what takes up most of my brain space. And heart space, actually. I’m just very passionate about family and raising children. I just want to do right by my babies, and I believe that disciplining and correcting is an integral part of doing that. But I want to try to never react. Reacting is the enemy to consistent parenting, I would say. I want to RESPOND to my children and their behavior. I feel like when I react, I scare my kids. I do NOT want my children living in fear of their mamma! But when I respond, I can teach them and they can feel my love more. So as I’ve been through a lot of trial and error, I have found a few techniques that have worked for James that I thought might be valuable to share.
First and foremost, I cannot emphasize how important it is in our family to openly and frequently express love. I believe that when someone knows you love them, you can say what you need to say to them and no trust is lost. While I may be considered a “strict” parent, I can tell you right now that I can’t imagine a child expressing more genuine love and admiration for his mommy than James expresses to me. I can tell that he doesn’t feel restricted or oppressed by any of my rules or expectations, and that’s most likely because he knows I love him. Love can make up for so many parenting mistakes! I am so grateful that we are kind and loving to one another in our home. That’s not to say we don’t correct our kids directly and firmly, it simply allows us to without any trust being lost in our familial relationships.
It’s relatively easy for me to correct James when we’re at home. But when we are in a public place or at someone else’s house, it’s easy for outside influences to affect my parenting style and turn me into a mother I’m not crazy about. Something that has helped both James and myself is to remove James from the social space. When he’s starting to throw a fit at Grammy’s (or something), I immediately take him in another room away from people so that it’s just him and me. I sit him on my lap and tell him to hold my hands. This gives him a second to realize what is happening and gives me a second to collect my thoughts and express love. Then I’ll ask him about why he’s upset, we’ll talk about consequences, and I’ll validate his feelings while trying to teach him what is appropriate in public. Then I’ll have him take a few big, deep breathes (it’s actually adorable when he does this…), and repeat the phrase:
“I am grateful for my life.”
(I am gwateful fo my wife.)
Honest to goodness, this has never not worked! We’ll stay separate from other people until he is calm, and then he wipes his tears, gives me a hug, and goes along his merry way–all the while feeling loved by his mother and confident in himself because he learned to control some emotions.
I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, but I really try to focus on making sure James feels secure in our family while trying to teach him and raise him to be a polite, confident, and humble person. Through trial and error, I happened to find a system of correction for certain scenarios that has worked for us so far. Maybe it could help someone you know? Maybe not. But I would love to hear other ideas that you have! There are so many ways to do this parenting thing correctly. And I have so much I could learn from all of you! After all, as mothers we are all in this together.