Monday, May 8, 2017

On discipline

"BG, this is the last time down the slide. Then come with me to the car right away or you have to go to bed with no books."

She goes down the slide, looks me in the eye, runs to the other side of the climbing structure, and walks back up the stairs. I run across the playground, grab her arm and say "No books tonight." She bursts into uncontrollable tears.

I know she isn't faking. This isn't a power play. She is genuinely distraught. She's heartbroken and also shocked.

In a calm and firm tone, I tell her, "You made a bad choice. I know. That's a shame."

The calm is a lie. In my brain, I"m enraged, mortified. She's a bad kid, she doesn't respect me, she never listens to me, everyone just saw her blatantly disobey me.

Also, this is my fault and the nagging recognition that I told her ten times we were going to leave before actually following through. How could she have known that this time I was really serious?

I'm afraid that I'm a bad mom. I'm afraid that I'm not strict enough, not clear enough, don't have firm enough boundaries and structures and limits. Also that I'm too mean, yell too much, don't give her enough positive attention and that's why she acts up.

I just don't know what the right thing to do is, where the middle ground is. One second I'm too harsh, the next too wishy washy. How can I possibly expect them to behave?

I listen to all the interviews, read all the books, I know all the "right" things to do. But how, in the actual moment when faced with life with my actual children, am I to actually do it right?

This isn't going to be a post with a pithy, sweet, wise realization at the end. I'm six years in and I don't have any answers. I'm so embarrassed that I don't know how to do this part of parenting.

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