My Parenting “Don’ts”

I am a parent; a mother. There are many things I do… I give out lots of hugs and cuddles, I kiss boo boo’s, I say bedtime prayers every night.  I change poopy diapers, I do bath time, I clean up (or try to), and I answer a lot of questions. I listen to my 4 year old’s stories, I laugh a lot, sometime I cry. I love with all my heart and I always strive to do what’s best for my kids. However there are a few things that I simply refuse to do…these have become my parenting “don’ts.” Some of these can prove very difficult at times, but parenting is work! These are things I just don’t put up with.

1. I don’t tolerate whining

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Exactly. “I’m sorry I don’t speak that language.” Is usually what I say to my four year old when he starts to get that whiney tone in his voice. I refuse to listen to you while you’re whining and complaining and your voice is reaching that level that makes me want to scream. There is a proper way to ask for something if you’d like it and that is what I’m trying to teach my kids instead of giving them what they’re whining for without even thinking, just to make them stop. (Tempting, believe me – but not helpful especially in the long run).

2. I don’t entertain tantrums

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All kids have ’em. Some more than others. The dreaded temper tantrums. They’re nasty of course. No one likes them. And while I can’t fully avoid them since I have a four year old and a 14 month old – I do not simply “put up with them.” Kids need to know from a very young age that they don’t always get their way – and especially not if they scream and throw a fit. It doesn’t work like that. If they’re left to throw a fit and then eventually get what they want – they know they can – and that’s dangerous. You’ve just made your life a lot harder in the long run. While tantrums are not nice to deal with – they need to be dealt with EVERY time. Even when my kids throw a tantrum – it doesn’t usually last long, because they are learning it never works – it never gets them what they want.

3. I don’t answer questions before coffee

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This is just a really practical one. It’s sort of not completely true…as I do mumble vague responses to my four year old such as, “yes” “mmhmm” “ok” “maybe” “right” and “I don’t know sweetie” as he proceeds to ask me 50 questions each morning before we have even made it downstairs – before the coffee is even on! I’m not a morning person and it’s a real struggle. The especially hard questions are the never ending stream of “why questions.” I just don’t have answers, especially not before coffee. I usually end up saying, “Just let mommy get downstairs and get some coffee sweetie, then I’ll answer that.” Thankfully most mornings he does eventually give up, unsatisfied with my run-of-the-mill answers and lets me get my coffee in.

4. I don’t negotiate with toddlers

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Maybe I’m just not as patient a parent as some people are, but I just refuse to negotiate with my toddler. A two year old doesn’t need a choice about what to eat – they just need food to eat. And if they’re really hungry – they’ll eat it. As children grow older I do believe it’s important to give them age-appropriate responsibility and choices, but as a young toddler – I’m the parent, and they’re the kid, I make the decisions – end of story. Besides, most of the time to they even really know what they want? And toddlers tend to change their minds about 10 times a minute anyways. Maybe in a minute he will actually want what I’m giving him and if not too bad – back to number 2.

5. I don’t lose (even though some days it feels like it)

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Parenting is truly hard work. It’s not easy and many times it’s not fun. Most of the time if would be easier to give in to the little people’s demands but then I have lost and it will make it that much harder the next time. The fact is I am the parent. I love them and want what is best for them and I make decisions based on that. And most of the time small children can’t see that – they just want what they want not knowing that sometimes what they want will actually end up hurting them – so my saying “no” has their best interests and safety in mind. When I refuse to give in and refuse to lose the battle (no matter how hard) I am teaching my children to respect authority. Children who have no respect for authority usually grow up to be adults with no respect for authority which usually means trouble. I want the best for my kids in every way and teaching them to be respectful will help them as they grow and hopefully with lots of love (and prayer) they will grow up to be loving, respectful, compassionate people.

No one is a perfect parent because there are no perfect people. All we can do is our best, every day. The biggest influence in your child’s life (especially small children) is you, their parent. They watch everything you do; they learn by watching you. It’s a scary thing sometimes! Lord, give us the strength we need to be the kind of parents You want us to be. Amen!

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