Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sometimes "crappy parenting" is good parenting

When it comes to parenting, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

Before having children, I thought I would be a patient mother, with the ability to keep my voice calm and my temper at bay. In reality, my kids know how to push every single one of my buttons like no one else I have ever encountered. And after a day, or sometimes just an hour, of getting under my skin and finding every one of my pet peeves, my voice rises and I sometimes let words tumble out that I shouldn't.

It was only after that I gave birth and started hanging out on mom boards that I learned that you were not supposed to yell at your kids.

I got yelled at as a child, and so did all my friends.

I thought rule against it that was the stupidest "rule" ever.

Now, I don't think it's completely stupid-- you don't want your kids yelling at people on a constant basis. So it makes sense to set the example.

But there's a case to be made for a well-directed yelling.

My beef with the "no yell" approach is that I think it can spoil kids. It can make them resent authority when it's legitimately exercised. How dare that teacher yell at me! That's just wrong!

In the real world, people yell at you. People boss you around and you're expected to do things on the double. Sometimes people need to be yelled at.

I also find that there's nothing morally wrong with yelling, in the right measure and at the right time.

I find that parenting tries to take away the pain of being disciplined.

Being disciplined is supposed to be painful.

My 20-something year old self knew I would discipline my children calmly, only using logical consequences and instilling lessons with every poor choice my child made. Instead, I yell more than I should and sometimes resort to "no dessert" no matter what the transgression, and simply explain they can't do it because I said so.
 "Because I said so" is a necessary phrase in most parents' vocabulary.

Sometimes, there are just not enough hours in a day to explain everything to your kid and they don't need to know at that minute.

Does it make authority seem arbitrary and illogical? Sure.

But if the kid doesn't have the ability to understand in less than half a second why you are doing such-and-such, then they are not entitled to a fruitless attempt at explanation.

As the mother of autistic children I have been there.

Plus sometimes they just use those questions as delay tactics.

The strategies for parenting are supposed to be used consistently, but it's humanly impossible to do so all the time.

So you have to pick your battles.