Who's the boss?

In your household, who is the boss? You, or your children? I think right now, my 3 and a half year old pretty much rules our world!

Are you too tough or too accommodating? Hands down, I fall in the 'too accommodating' category. For instance, a usual day when I am not at work would involve me asking my oldest son what he wants to do for the day.

"Christos, what do you want to do today? Do you want to go to playgroup?
"Okay. How about we go to the science museum?"

Or when I 'tell' my son it is time to leave (the museum, the mall, a playdate) I don't really 'tell' him it's time to leave; rather, I let him decide. "Christos, we are going to leave in 5 minutes, is that okay with you?" And of course, he either says 'no' or '5 more minutes'. When I tell him his 5 minutes are up, he says he meant to say 20 minutes. I usually laugh it off, but sometimes, it's tough to get him to listen. A recent article I read on CNN.com talks about the importance of setting reasonable limits and teaching children to respect authority.

I wouldn't classify myself as a 'calm' mom. Maybe it's because I'm Greek and we're not generally calm and relaxed people to begin with! Regardless, lately, I've been trying really hard to be more calm as a mother and to put my foot down when I need to.

It is important to give children some independence, though. And they should be allowed to make some decisions for themselves. But I'm beginning to figure out that the big decisions - what time to leave the house, what time they should get ready for bed - should be decisions left for me and my husband to decide.

Decisions like what my children want to eat for breakfast, or what they want to wear in the morning (for the most part) can be decisions that they can make. (Well, for my oldest son, anyway). It's important for them to have 'decision making powers' because it will help them when they go to school. And it's important for them to be able to listen and follow rules, especially when it's time for them to go to school!

I think we can pick and choose our battles, right? I'm trying hard to be more authoritative with my children. Saying no is not easy for me, but I am trying.

Over the weekend, my 15 month old was having fun in the grocery store, by moving some products from one shelf to another shelf. I tried saying no a couple of times, but it upset him, so I let him continue. Afterwards, I put him in the grocery cart, and put the products back to where they belonged. Some moms probably wouldn't find this acceptable. But I let him play. And I did put the things back. I don't think this will result in him being a rebel when he's older, do you?

And my oldest son? He's very independent now. It almost happened overnight! I'm proud that he now goes to the bathroom on his own, without even telling us, washes his hands, puts his plate in the sink, and puts on his own shoes. Of course, he'll have his moments when he gets frustrated when we say no. The other day, he wanted to cut the grass in the front yard. But it was dinner time. So we said no. And left it at that. He sulked on the couch for a bit, but then got excited about going on a walk with my sister and I. We said the walk would happen after he ate his dinner. I asked him to come to the table, and he said: "Okay. Just let me get happy again." And just like that, he became his normal, happy self again!

What is your parenting style? Do you give in too easily, or are you firm with your children?
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Rebecca said...

Lots to consider - great writing!

I like to think that I am a balance of fun/happy/easy going and structured/stern enough to keep him under control. At times, I have loads of patience, at other times, zero.

I do think that if you start saying no to something, you have to commit - I've learned that if I say no, and then give in, he'll assume that his reaction to my first no will work the next time. So, sometimes, it's a matter of picking the battles, if it's not a big deal then I don't worry about it. Because really, some things aren't a big deal!

It's great that you are able to be so calm!

Ms. Porter said...

Like Rebecca, at times I have loads of patience and there are moments when I have none.

I try very hard to understand why my child is misbehaving, are they hungry or tired? I also try to match the punishment to the crime which is hard to do in the heat of the moment!

Overall, I am proud of the Mom that I am.

Connie Weiss said...

I think I am fairly strict. From the beginning, I have had a schedule that I won't break for anyone or anything. My husband on the other hand will let them get away with stuff and then he gets strict which I think is confusing to them.

As they get older I am having to put my foot down and be meaner. I don't want them to be disrespectful little brats someday.

By the way, I've officially tagged you to do the 11 question Meme!

Kami's Khlopchyk said...

I am a firm believer in being firm. I see teenagers today who walk all over their parents and I do think that that attitude grows with them. So if I give in now when I say no to every single thing then were is that going to lead us? Down a path I am not willing to go.

That said, I also believe in picking your battles. Going to bed on time has never been negotiable and as a result, we have no bedtime fight. I love bedtime, we read stories together, we sing songs, I kiss them goodnight....it's lovely. And I think it has lots to do with our being firm and sticking to our guns.

Ultimately I want to achieve mutual respect between me and my boys. Just as my parents created between us. It starts now :)

amanda said...

wow - can i just pretend that i am a perfectly balanced parent?? a little bit of both maybe??

Nap Warden said...

I'm all over the map...I gotta get a grip. Sometimes I think I'm too strict, other times, I think I'm a total slacker. Parenting is hard:P

Anonymous said...

I tend to think I'm pretty balanced after an evening cocktail. Before that - watch out!

Adelas said...

I think if anything I tend to be a little too tough with the big girls, although I keep catching myself letting things slide with the baby.

Rebecca had a good point about committing to "no". The same is true about committing to consequences. My husband is forever making threats that he either can't, or you know he won't, follow through on. So then not only do the threats not work, they also undermine the girls' belief in him when he IS serious.

Also, one thing you might do that would allow you to be flexible and give Christos some control, but still keep you in charge: Give him 2-3 choices, but don't make them "yes or no" choices.

"Where do want to go today, playgroup or the science museum?"

"It's time to go to bed [not an option]... do you want to brush teeth first or put on pajamas first?"

That way he gets to be in control of how his day works, but only within the parameters you have already set. It avoids a lot of arguing, and avoids inconvenience for you, because the way you ask the question assumes that you're in charge. But, it's nice because he still gets to arrange the details.


Loukia said...

Thanks everyone, I appreciate all your comments and your suggestions! It is about finding the right balance for you and your situation, and yes, if you do say 'no' you have to try to stick to it. Hard as it may be at times!

Jessica - This Is Worthwhile said...

I love your honesty and your good natured writing style. Sounds to me like you're doing exactly what's right for your boys.

I totally agree that allowing them some decisions are really important, not "Do you want carrots or not?", but "Do you want carrots or peas?"

And I do the exact same thing with Hollis as you do with Dimitri - I let him tear things up in public, but I always put it back (so long as tearing it up isn't totally destroying something).

The crappy part comes in with the commitment thing, like Rebecca and Adelas mentioned. I'll say, "This is your last cookie," but of course he begs for another one. But if I forgot to, or just didn't say those magic words ("this is your last one") I'll totally do as he pleases. I don't mind too much being bossed around by him. I boss him around constantly, so maybe that's how he sees things should be done!

Kelly said...

I'm very accomodating too. I don't want to fight over little things so I let a lot of stuff go. But there are times when I won't back down.