Show of hands. How many of you heard that phrase above as a kid, and vowed never to say it when you had kids of your own? Umm hmm. Yep, I thought so. Well, I recently heard it come out of my mouth and had to do a little self-evaluation…
I admit it. I can be pretty stern when it comes to disciplining my daughter. I’m a “I mean what I say, and I say what I mean,” kind of momma. And Gabby usually really has a desire to follow the rules. But my daughter is also, well, a kid. So testing the limits of said rules is tempting. And lately, she has found it hard to resist. I have tried, often much to my dismay, to set up some well-defined rules about TV and internet time as well as her responsibility to keep her room clean and pick up after herself around the house. Pretty simple stuff. And look, I know kids will be kids, so clothes will be left on the floor, water will be left running, and 5,000 requests will be made to turn off the TV and start getting ready for bed. However, I decided it was important to set some expectations for Gabby that everyone in my multi-generational household could follow.
At times, I’ve thought I might be overcompensating for the fact that Gabby’s dad and I are not together by being more assertive.
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Then, I found myself wondering if I was being too stringent in my rule-setting and trying to figure out why. The first question that popped into my head: “Am I a stricter disciplinarian BECAUSE I’m a single mom?” In many two-parent households, there’s usually one parent who’s lenient and one who’s strict. For example, when I was growing up, my mom definitely took more of the democratic approach while my dad was of the “Because I said so” school of thought. At times, I’ve thought I might be overcompensating for the fact that Gabby’s dad and I are not together by being more assertive. Or maybe I just inherited more of my dad’s style.
I also considered that my approach might be in response to living in the same house with my parents. Grandparents are notorious for indulging their grandkids. And in some way, maybe that “good cop, bad cop” dynamic is playing out between me and my parents, instead of between me and my would-be husband. Though the debates over differing parenting styles often take place between me and my mom, it’s my dad who has now become Mr. Permissive. I’ve actually overheard Gabby ask my dad for something he KNOWS she’s not supposed to have and then rather than say no, he just tells her to come ask me! See what I mean: me=bad cop.
This 180-degree turn has absolutely blown my mind, and I must confess, often frustrated me. But even as I struggle to strike the oh-so delicate balance in my own disciplinary approach, it absolutely warms my heart to see my dad and my daughter together. Yes, my dad often chooses to look the other way when it comes to Gabby. But if I happen to be overcompensating in the discipline area as a single mom, he certainly makes up for it by ensuring that my daughter has all the love and support every little girl deserves from her father.
And I couldn’t ask for anything better than that. Happy Father’s Day, daddy. I love you.
So, what’s your parenting/discipline style? Where did it come from and do you ever have to “check” it?