Monday, May 16, 2011

Who is incharge?

I was very blessed when my oldest was born to find a pediatrician who was an "expert" on kids & a God-sent for first time moms & dads.  Are you asking, aren't all pediatricians experts on kids?  No, I don't think so.  Let me explain.  He was (as far as I could calculate) 80 years old.  He was confident and very good at helping guide new moms and dads.  He had these "cheat sheets" that he would hand out at each appointment.  They gave you in site into what you would be experiencing during that time frame and advise on how to handle it.  He also gave out his home numbers for you to call in the mornings if you had questions.  These sheets were honest and realistic.  I remember one that said (at 18 mos - 2 yrs) something like ... there are times you may not like your child ... . Or the newborn sheet given at the initial consultation that said your new born may be "ugly" (well, he didn't use THAT word, but did tell you it may not be this beautifully shaped glowing white smooth skinned baby you see in the movies.)  When I  read these sheets I felt as though he had a hidden camera in my apartment and was giving tips just for us.

I also loved the nurse's advise when both my husband & I came for the first newborn appointment.  She told us that moms and dads parent differently.  Different doesn't mean wrong and we need to respect the differences.

Around the 15 - 18 month appointment the Dr asked me if my daughter was doing anything I didn't like.  At the time she was really fighting me while I was changing her diaper.  I told him that.  He asked what did I want?  I said I wanted her to lay still while I changed her.  His advise was that when she would squirm & try to roll I should (in a deep, stern voice) tell her no and hold her still.  She would get the point.  The next check up, same question.  This time I had a good one!  (Little did I know terrible twos starts about 18 months!!) She "refused" to get in her stroller for our walk home from the park.  Now, at this time, I was about 5 months pregnant living in San Francisco in a 4 story walk up, on the top floor.  We were a mile away from the park, and yes, I had to walk up a hill on the way home.  So, this time, I carried her and pushed the stroller.  The Dr's advise.  Buy a bungee cord, put her in the stroller and tell her (in the firm but calm voice) she was going to stay in the stroller until we got home.  The next park visit she threw another tantrum.  A huge one.  I buckled her in & told her she was staying put.  I had drawn my line in the sand.  The rest of the way home she would do everything in her power to get me to budge.  As far as she was concerned. we were at war and she was going to win.  Little did she know, the Dr had warned me of this.  When you pick a battle, he said, you have to win.  If you don't want to win, don't start the battle.  He told me children will make themselves pass out, throw up and just about anything else to get you to give in.

I think that walk home resulted in several conversations among observers about the possibility of never having children.  She screamed like I had never heard.  Tried to throw herself out of the stroller.  Kicked,  and hit ... but I didn't give in.  And ... you know what.  I won.  That battle was over.  I can honestly say we never had a major fit regarding the stroller again.

I had a mom tell me today that she wasn't able to brush her daughter's hair.  Her (3 year old) wouldn't let her.  She said she assumed I never had that problem as she can tell I spend a lot of time on my girls hair in the morning.  I told her, that we have "that" problem about 1 - 2 times a week, but if I don't brush their hair it just gets worse and worse, so I ignore the screams and brush through the falling down and crying. There are days I do give up and say forget it ... but not too often.  It's a battle I pick and win.  The hair gets brushed.

There are battles I choose not to have.  My oldest has picked out her clothes and dressed herself since she was 2.  She has her own unique style and that's OK with me.  I know moms who don't have this option for their child.

The point is, sometimes we as moms need to be reminded, who is in charge?  When we say our child "refuses xyz" are we really thinking about what it will be like at 13 or 14 and they refuse.  I think, that if you start winning battles now, there won't be as many as they get older.  I hope not at lease.  I think we will also have practice saying no and meaning it.  I think children are looking for a parent who is in charge.  They start testing us early on.  If they are out of our control at 2, why do we think they will be easier to handle during those teenage years?  No, I'm starting now.  It isn't fun.  It is HARD, especially emotionally.  In the moment the battle happens I think so many times it would be easier to give in to my daughters ... but in the long run it will be much harder.

Remember moms, you're bigger, stronger and you can do it.


  1. Such a good reminder. It is really true. A lot of time you only have to have the battle once or twice and it never happens again. I read somewhere that children LIKE discipline and boundaries. They will keep testing to see "Is my life stable? Are you a safe person and I can trust that I'll get the same response each time? Do you care about me?" If the answer is "Yes" and results are consistent, the bad behavior stops. It works for us.

  2. Thanks for putting those comments! Yes, I totally agree.

  3. I LOVED this, Laura. I am pretty much what a lot of my friends call, the "Mean Mommy" because I have clear boundaries and I do not put up with any crap. Well, some days I am just too tired to deal with things and then my kids go off to visit the grandparents ;). But guess what? My kids behave because they know when I say something, I mean it. This is the part of parenthood that isn't shared that often, at least before you are in the heat of battle. We are not here to be friends, we are here to be parents. No, it isn't easy. Yes, you need to be pretty clear on what you deem acceptable behavior/choices. No, it will not be the same as your friends/neighbors/family members all the time so you may feel like the odd woman out. But consistency is the key! I tell this to my families in care- and believe me, I have seen the good, the bad, and the really really ugly. I almost want to print this entry and pass it out. HELLO PEOPLE! YOU COULD LEARN A THING OR TWO HERE! Thanks for sharing.
    Michelle Dibb

  4. Thank you, Michelle, for all of your comments! I loved reading them. I am so glad you like this post. Isn't it a little odd that there seem to be so few discussions on the really challenging times? Mean mom = future well adjusted adult, I think.