Before I had any children I thought I knew pretty much everything about having kids. I would look at other people raising children and mentally judge them all the time. I would think things like:
“How many times are they going to give in to that whining kid?”
“Wow, that parent has no control.”
“Seriously, my kid will never act like that!”
I was sure I was so good at parenting. So much better than these parents I would see “giving in” to their children. I mean what did they know that I didn’t? It really couldn’t be that difficult?
Flash forward to three boys later and let me be the first to tell you I was a complete idiot!
I want to publicly apologize to every parent I ever judged for the way their kids were behaving. I was wrong!
Let me just give you a little glimpse into my parenting style before kids vs. after kids.
5 Things I said before I had kids:
1. My kid will eat whatever I make for dinner or they wont eat.
Do I need to even say anything more about this one? If you are a parent you know exactly how well this one goes. (If you are a parent that actually makes this work, I praise you! You are a God and I bow down to you! Please come cook for my children!) I tried this. I really did. But then I just gave up. I hated the battle and it wasn’t one I wanted to fight. Plus, they totally just worked me over when it was bed time and they gave me the sad eyes about being hungry. How could I send my kid to bed hungry?! Gah! I would feel awful and make them something to eat.
So I threw that idea out the window! I don’t cater and make individual meals for all my children, but I do modify a LOT of what I make. Or keep things separate. What is it with kids and not wanting their food touching? You really need two different spoons!? I do make them try new things and I continue to put the vegetables on their plates even though I know they aren’t going to eat them. Maybe one day they will. Maybe…
2. I wont bribe my kid. They will simply learn to do what I ask. Consistency people!
Ha! Who was I kidding?! I bride my kids all the time! It avoids the conflict, can get you out of pinch when in a crowd of people, and pays off for a decent picture here and there. What’s so bad about it really? If I call them rewards instead of bribes does that make is sound better? Come on, we all do it! Shoot, I even bribe myself with Dutch Bros coffee daily. I mean reward, I reward myself.
3. My kid will never throw a fit in public. They will know how to behave in the store.
I was literally dragging a kid through the store. He was on his stomach arms stretched over his head holding on to the bottom of the cart mopping the floor with his belly and screaming as I push the cart through the aisles of Target. I was that that mom. When I couldn’t stand it anymore I ended up grabbing that kid and his little brother one in each arm and walking right out of that store more embarrassed than I had ever been and leaving a full cart right there in the aisle. My child just lost it that day. For no reason at all. Usually they are all pretty well behaved, but some days things just explode. This was one of those days.
And the bribing didn’t even work! I tried!
4. My kids will leave their “lovies” in their beds. Or at least just at home.
If you know me and my children you know this is hilarious! In fact, this just got worse and worse with each kid. All three of my boys sucked their thumbs (Yeah you can’t leave those at home) and carried around a lovie while doing it. My youngest doesn’t go anywhere without it. I am not kidding, ANYWHERE! And I don’t care. Well, I do a little bit when I think other parents might be judging me but then I remember that he is quiet and happy when he has that thing and it makes shopping, and running errands so much easier, then I don’t give a hoot one bit! I don’t even want to think about the bacteria and germs that thing is infested with, instead I like to think it is just building immunities right? Just let them have it!
5. My kids will follow instructions, especially when it comes to safety concerns. Did you not teach your child about that?
Did I say I have three boys? I think the most used phrase that comes out of my mouth is “be careful!” But you can’t keep them safe all the time. And they are going to make some bad choices. Just this week one of my boys stuck two small metal keys into the electrical outlet. I was in the same room and didn’t see it happen. I missed it. I failed to keep him safe. I had told them about the dangers of sticking things in the plugs many times. Many many times! But apparently not enough times. Thank the Lord, my son was not physically hurt. But there was a loud snap, a big spark, a blew fuse and a terrified little boy. There was also a mom feeling guilty that I didn’t teach him enough and that I wasn’t watching closely enough. But we can’t teaching them everything and even if we do they are going to make mistakes. So are we as their parents. Now I can say I don’t think he will ever do that again. I think it was scary enough that I don’t think any of my boys will try that again.
But I guess I can’t be 100% certain of that.
In my 7 years of parenting so far I think that is the biggest lesson I have learned. We can never be certain of anything. We are always learning as we go. What worked for my first kid didn’t work on the next one and then the third one was different still! Parenting is not black and white. Sometimes we just have to do what works for us and not worry about what other people are thinking. I know that I was wrong when I would judge other people before I even knew what it was really like. My eyes have been opened.
Now that I am a parent I don’t really even like to give parenting “how to’s” to other moms because it can sometimes set them up for failure or give them unrealistic expectations. Instead I will say this is what I have tried and what worked for my kids, you are welcome to try it, but know that you are going to have to figure out what works for you and your own kids. Trust your parenting instincts, be open-minded, pick your battles, and don’t be so hard on yourself if you have to go against something you thought you would never do. We are all learning as we go. So as long as your children know they are loved and cared for give yourself and them a little grace here and there.
This parenting thing is tough!
But so worth it!