The other night I was talking to my friend, and she mentioned that all too familiar tug of war every new parent (I think) goes through - striking the right balance when it comes to discipline.When you're baby's looking up at you with those big brown eyes, it's hard not to give him/her whatever their little hearts desire. But what if all that leads to us waking up one day and finding that our kids are disrespectful, irresponsible, spoiled BRATS? I for one will be scratching my head and wondering where my sweet bouncing baby went.
Now that we're two years into parenthood (which I know is like...30 seconds in the grand scheme of things, but hear me out) we have the benefit of a teensy bit of hindsight perspective, and we're at that crossroads where our baby is no longer a baby and can begin to take a little bit of responsibility for her actions. I understand strongly now, that our children are learning about us and our parenting style from day one. What we choose to allow will quickly become the norm. So for example if we are lenient about bedtime, snacks, and TV, then they will come to expect these things to go their way. Later on, that might equate to shopping sprees, late nights out, and a NEVER empty nest. In our case, Noweo refuses to be ejected from our bed. Surprise surprise. She's been there from the beginning.
The good news is (theoretically), that if we establish an acceptable norm from the beginning, they'll know what to expect from us and they'll never question it (at least while they're young) because they won't know any better.
Have I done this? Have I laid down the ground rules for a disciplined, structured life? Does Noweo eat a variety of healthy foods every day at pre-appointed times? Do I fill pockets of her day with structured, educational play? Does she spend more time reading books than watching the TV? Does she make it to bed at 7:30 every night?
Haha. No. Not the way I envisioned anyway.
Does anybody? Ok there are so many people on this planet, I'm sure some of them do, but I'm not friends with them.
All joking aside, Keola and I tend to be big softies (he the bigger softie), and while we've tried to give her set expectations and learned to say "No," and discipline Noweo according to what she can understand, and read to her and play with her in ways that will enrich her learning experiences, we're not perfect. We get lazy and and we let things slide. Fortunately, we think our kid's pretty awesome and happy, and though life has been a little crazy since her birth, she amazes me with her grace and adaptability. Whether our less-than-optiaml parenting choices lead to future headaches remains to be seen though I have yet to see a teen that doesn't give their parents a headache at least once. Our most important lesson for her is that we love her and that she doesn't need to look any further than her own front door for the advice she needs, or the people to back her up.
Yeah. The parenting choices we make in infancy (and even earlier) set the stage for the rest of their lives and molds them in imperceptible ways until you look back one day and see how much they've changed and realize how much of that has to do with you. I personally can drive myself crazy thinking about this and every possible effect it may have on Noweo's life, but I think we as parents need to be kinder and gentler to ourselves, and remind ourselves that we're all new at this. Our kids are new at living, and no matter how many children we have, we as parents are reborn each time we welcome a new life into our family. There's no way we can be perfect at this, and we're not supposed to be, but if we spend more time loving our kids (yeah, it does come down to squishy, mushy, touchy-feely love) and less time stressing about trying to be the perfect parent, I think we can churn out some pretty awesome people who love themselves and love us even more than they did when they were first placed in our arms.