Sunday, April 10, 2011

Just say no...not as easy as it looks!

I'm a softie when it comes to my kids.  Not because I'm nice, mind you...but only because the thought of them crying breaks my heart.

Yes, I'm a huge pushover and they know it.

However, as they're becoming older and more challenging in their own right, I'm quickly realizing that it's time for this Mama to take all the control back.  Before I know it, they're going to be teenagers running around here, telling me how it is and putting me in my place.

I told Tim, "You know, we've got to get things under control around here.  I think the spawn are under the assumption that WE work for THEM.  It's time to rein it in, baby".

The other night, I made a delicious dinner of grilled chicken, green beans and fresh fruit.  What's not to like, right?

But Landon, the littlest spawn, took one look at his plate and freaked out.  And I'm not talking a little bit of whining here and, we're talking full on temper tantrum, chock full of snot, tears and "I'm not eating THAT!"

He Demanded that we make him a hotdog instead.  Yes, folks, Demanded..with a capital D.

Attempting to sound like an experienced parent, I replied, "You're going to eat what everyone else is eating or you can go to bed hungry."

With his arms crossed tightly in front of his little chest, he puffed his bottom lip out and screamed, "No, I won't eat it!  Make me a hotdog NOW!"

I told myself, "Count to 10....breathe in, breathe out....shit, count to 50 before you rip his damn head off his ever-lovin' neck!"

Trying to compromise with him, I explained, "You eat the dinner I served you and I will gladly make you a hotdog....your choice.  But you'll also have to apologize, change your attitude and use some manners."

Still, he carried if this was his last meal and I had just served him cold dog shit with a side of cat puke and some mouse piss to wash it all down with.

The crying and pouting was getting to me, don't get me wrong.  But something inside me wouldn't allow myself to give in this time.  It wasn't just the fact that he wanted something different than what I had made, it was the manner in which he had dealt with the situation....rudely, disrespectfully and without any concern for the other members of this family.

But Tim couldn't take it anymore and got up from the table and said, "Okay, enough...I'll make you a hotdog!"

A smile creeped across Landon's face and I said, "No, we have to stick to what we said.  I'm tired of us being bullied around all the time."

Knowing I was right, Tim shrugged his shoulders and told his whiny son, "Mommy's right. You have to eat your dinner first before you have a hotdog.  That's the deal."

It wasn't a deal Landon wanted to make, though, as he sat there with a bitter scowl on his face, staring daggers at anyone who dared to look his way.

The rest of us continued on with our business...eating dinner, sharing conversation, pretending that there wasn't an unruly, angry child within our midst.

When everyone was done with dinner...well, except Landon...I began washing the dishes.  I spotted him watching me and knew he was expecting me to give in.  The thought of any child going to bed hungry, even though I understand sometimes it's a necessary evil to drive a point home, has never sat well with me so this felt very uncomfortable.

"I'm going to need your plate in a few minutes," I reminded him.

By the time I loaded the last dish into the washer, he came up behind me and handed me his plate, which was now empty.  I took it, being sure to thank him for bringing it over to be washed.  As angry as I was, I knew I had to leave it at that, nothing more than a pleasant exchange of words.

This was purely a battle of the wills and we both knew it.

I felt a gentle tug on my shirt and turned around to see him still standing there.

"Mommy, I'm sorry for yelling at you.  I ate my dinner so can I please have a hotdog now?" he said, using the quietest of voices.

I answered, "Apology accepted and, yes, you may have a hotdog now.  I appreciate you using your manners", as I bent down to give him a hug.

And even though it was a simple hug, it expressed so much more than just expressed my desire to be a better parent, one who stands strong even when it hurts.  A parent who knows how to choose her battles and realizes the difference between a battle worth fighting and not fighting.

With 4 young children to care for, this was a battle I had to fight...and win.  I can't be a short-order cook and I can no longer allow them to bully me around as if I'm their personal servant.  It was getting out of hand and I finally had to take a stance, as tough as it was.

Let me just say, it's a work in progress.   The very next day, Landon was back to demanding I do things his way or the highway.  Reminding myself that things won't change overnight because he is, after all, an extremely strong-willed child, it's going to take time to set things straight again.

This is the part of parenting where I realize I'll always be walking a thin line. I want to encourage individuality without crushing his lively spirit.  I'd like him to be a responsible person who passionately shares his beliefs and opinions while keeping in mind his empathy and respect for others.

Most importantly, I have to teach him to look at others with a "what can I do for them" mentality, rather than a "what can they do for me" attitude.  He can still be a leader...he can still run in front of the pack...he just has to learn how to live peacefully among others and to treat them how he would want to be treated.

So I need to stay firm and be consistent now to ensure that he turns into the type of person I hope he'll be someday.

Oh...and I also need to do a whole lot of praying to keep my sanity intact.

No one ever said parenting was easy.  Sigh... Registered & Protected


Okeoghene said...

I enjoyed every bit of this post and I really relate with your experinece. As a mother of 2 young kids, I also find myself torn between giving in to their demands or standing my ground. I come from a culture where the parents are not the only ones who raise the kids, there is a whole extended family input. In as much as we have our own ideas of how we want to raise our kids, parents, cousins, brothers, sisters etc also feel like they have a say in the way the kids are raised or more like disciplined. Good job with what you are doing. It is a WIP but God is on our side and we see us through.

Heather H said...

We are having the same battles with our little girl. Only she doesn't eat eat dinner...she just goes to bed hungry. Drives. Me. Batty. I am impressed at how politely he asked for a hot dog. Good job!

Karen Peterson said...

I am so proud of you for sticking to your guns. It wasn't easy, but it had to be done.

And it's especially important not just for Landon's sake, but the others too.

Dysfunctional Mom said...

I'm so proud of you for standing strong. I know it's hard. But unlike so many parents I see, you obviously are looking into the future and remembering he won't always be the cute little kid whose tantrums are annoying. One day he'll grow up and those tantrums won't be just annoying any more, and nobody will find that behavior cute.
And, your time & sanity are valuable things, and you deserve to be able to cook one meal and expect your children to eat it. It's not like you made liver and onions. My deal here is I make kid-friendly meals and everyone eats it. My kids are older and I do make them try different things now, and I may occasionally make exceptions if it's something off the wall that I understand they may not like. But for the most part, they eat what I cook with no complaints!
Anyway. I say good for you and stay strong, Mama! And don't let Dad give in either! lol

Marcia (123 blog) said...

I'm so proud of you for sticking to your guns!

It pays off big time (from my limited experience) when you go to friends and they eat anything.

Twice now we've had such good experiences at friends' houses and everyone is amazed mine eat. I said, "it's because it's my food or a dry Provita biscuit" :)

Jessica said...

I can totally relate to this post. We have recently gotten to the point where we need to pull in the reigns and get everyone under control. The kids are taking over! What used to be cute is not so cute anymore. Good luck to us both!

The Mother said...

We went through many, many permutations of the dinner argument. Now that they're teens, the answer gets easier: Don't like what's for dinner? Feed yourself.

But until then? I have no suggestions. Nothing I tried actually worked for very long. Sigh.

Jen said...

Well, it comes down to it, I too am such a softie.

Deborah said...

Good job mom! It's not easy, and I was always the softie too, I was the short order cook, but they still turned out to be great kids, who even made it into college. Ultimately they learn more by watching what we do, and less by listening to what we say. :)

Twins Squared said...

Oh I know it is SO hard! You did such a great job handling it though and so glad Tim didn't make him that hot dog!

Consistency - I'm horrible at that! Which only creates further problems. Sometimes I stand my guns and sometimes (a lot) I don't have the energy to. I do follow through with what I say, but I often don't put them in time out for things like hitting each other because it happens SO Much (between the 4 of them) I don't want to fool with it. I make them say they're sorry and we go on our way. Not very effective I realize. I try. You are too. Good job on the hot dog! I wouldn't have put up with that either.

Nobodys Nothings said...

good for you for not giving in! it's hard... i know. my daughter goes to bed hungry most days. :( i purposefully feed her a huge breakfast most days because i know she'll eat little to nothing the rest of the day. it sucks, but the moment i give an inch, she takes a mile. this parenting stuff is hard work. :/

Christine said...

I have 3 boys and they are all VERY strong willed so I feel your pain. My middle one is the easiest but he's got a much better pout. He makes me feel the most guilty. LOL

I'm so happy to read that you stuck to your guns. It gives me hope that I can eventually do the same.

Eva Gallant said...

Kudos for standing firm, and I hope you will continue to do so. It will make life so much easier for you down the road! Plus you are teaching them that No means No!

Annie said...

Sometimes is hard but you can do it, I mean all of us can do it.

Hang in there!!

PS: BTW, is a long time since my last comment, but I'm back.

Brooke said...

read a blog saying "remember you're raising someone's husband". from the bottom of the heart of a wife to an only child, thank you.

and yes, my husband has gone to bed without dinner before. seriously.

Pamela D. Hart said...

Found you via Whispering Writer.

Congratulations. It is hard when we have a strong-willed child. But rest-assured, it gets easier. Mine will be 14 soon. There were days when I thought I'd strangle him--or myself.

I too never wanted to stunt his individuality, or his creativity, but I also had to be STRONGER. I used to tell him "You may win the battle, but I'll win the war." Then one day he told me, "Mama, you win battle, I win war." He was 4! Good thing I was driving and in my seat belt and he was in the back in a car seat!

Well, keep these stories coming--even though they are tough for you, they warm my heart with memories. ;-)

Rhiannon said...

oh you are sooo right! my son is also so head strong! its a constant battle with him. i'll pray for your patience because i know how much you might want to throw them out a window at time! hahaha ive been there

Angela said...

I was sooo waiting to hear that he hid his food in the nearby plant!:) Good for you! I am totally a short order cook with our littles. Never was with the big kids. But it is driving me crazy! I know I need to start drawing that line but it IS so hard re: food/going to bed hungry!

I think it is wise to remember your long term goals when having to decide if you want to enter the challenge of a battle and winning! It's exhausting, but worth it! I hope!

Alicia said...

Great job, mom!! Good for standing your ground and not giving in!! It's so hard to stay consistent. I know exactly how you feel!!

Shell said...

Sometimes it's just easier to say yes. It's hard to find that balance!

Kakunaa said...

Good for you guys! It must be so hard to hear the whining and not back down, but you did it! One step at a time! Woohoo!

Cindy said...

It must be something in the air because 2 days ago, I had the same exact thing happen with my 6 y/o. I stood firm instead of caving and while she didn't eat most of what was on her plate, she did eat some. Was she hungry at bedtime? Yup, but she hasn't pulled that stunt to that extent in the last 2 days, so perhaps we are improving. Sometimes, tough and sticking to your guns are necessary.

Creative Junkie said...

Being consistent and sticking to your guns is exhausting, isn't it? I very rarely ever give in but holy crap, it messes with my mind and it will make me feel like a horrible mother for hours, if not day after, even though I know I was right to do it. I've said it before ... motherhood ought to come with combat pay.

Tiffany said...

Oh my gosh, I was holding my breath through this entire thing, willing you on. Good work Momma!!

We definitely have to pick and choose our battles and you chose wisely on this one IMO.

It is a choice I evaluate everyday, but when it comes to extremely demanding attitudes that is when I choose to fight. Not just about dinner, but about respect and how we treat each other.

Again - yay you!!

Nezzy said...

Girl, I'm proud of you for holdin' your ground. What are ya...a short order cook??? This happened only once in our house and Geek Son did go to bed without supper. A child will not starve overnight and it sure makes them think twice about complainin' about the meal set before 'em.

Motherhood is the hardest and most rewardin' job you'll ever have. Way to go sweet Mama!

God bless ya and have an amazin' day! :o)

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Absolutely. We had the SAME argument last night at the dinner table. Oh, and the night before. Guess what little dude? Mom DOES NOT make a seperate meal!

Kim said...

I kept waiting to see if you found his dinner hidden under the seat cushion or wrapped up in his napkin! Good for you for sticking to your ultimatum. You're so right about the attitude behind their request; it's one thing if a child really can't eat something due to texture or allergy or something. It's quite another when they're just being demanding.

Zeemaid said...

Good for you! Sticking to your guns is sooooo important. Of course, I'm apt to say no to quickly and I have to watch that because once I do, I can't back down and sometimes I regret being so hasty!

Lulu Lane Designs said...

I've got three of these strong willed kiddos!!! I have definately done the "you will go to bed hungry" and they have actually done that. It's hard to do it but I then I remind myself that if they were really THAT hungry they would eat whatever you made for dinner. Thats what I have to tell myself! :)

WhisperingWriter said...

Oh man, sticking to your guns is tough. I admit I've given in in the past and I'm working to fix that.

Crossed Fingers said...

I love this post - it reminds me what I'm in store for and that I have to be his parent first and foremost. Part of that is teaching lessons just like this.

You can do it! You're already doing a great job!

Mamarazzi said...

oh man you freakin rock!! i love a parent who actually parents their children.

Natalie said...

Just found your blog from your guest post on "Things I Can't Say." You are hilarious! I am a new blogger and SAHM. Look forward to reading more it! :)

Heather said...

Right on. I had to do this with my oldest three when they were pre school aged. Now they will eat anything.
Literally anything. They are eating me out of house and home. I may live to regreat the lesson. IF they were pickier I could maybe find a snack around here somewhere.

January Dawn said...

My son sounds a lot like yours! It's a daily struggle for EVERYTHING. Kudos to you for sticking to your guns....and to your husband for sticking with you on this. ;) Found your blog through Shell's BFF post. Love it!

Emmy said...

Yeah! Good for you. That is a hard battle to stick to your word as really whom who wants to send a kid to bed hungry. We did have to send our oldest to bed pretty hungry once, but one time was all it took

Lourie said...

You rock! I could feel how how hard that must have have been. Maybe because I have been there myself? Either did good!! Found you from Shell's place.

Bethany said...

Good job sticking to your guns. I'm not a mom but I am a full time+ childcare giver and I know how much easier it is to give in :) Ay yi...

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr

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