As a mother I would like to think I am consistently strict with a healthy dose of fun. I feel so bad when I stand firm with a rule that is good for the children and I see their angst. I remember my mom saying, "Parenthood is not a popularity contest, if it were I would lose every time". I would think to myself, "Yes you would!" Today I struggle to find balance in my discipline. I want to be a truly good parent. I try but sometimes I fail miserably. I want to be friends too much, this is my weakness, but I need to concentrate on being Mom. When the children are adults we can be the best of friends, today they need a parent. But that's hard, I want them to like me as much as I like them. Can you hear me whine???
As a child I was raised with strict expectations for my behavior and care for my things. When things went awry and I misbehaved or didn't properly care for something - I was dealt a swift and painful punishment. I'm not willing to accuse anyone of abuse but I was frequently slapped across the face, kicked in the bottom and one time hit with the belt. My mother use to say, "Fear is the beginning of wisdom". My older sister really disliked that one! As a result of my upbringing I was a fairly good kid. Oh I was not perfect or without fault.
In fact I swore like a truck driver, I smoked cigarettes, drank Irish whiskey and I drove a car to the next town over - at the age of 7 years old!!! Honest! But my toys and clothes were in perfect condition and I could handle the laundry and housework like a pro. When my mother called me I went to her NOW. When she said do something, I did it NOW. Okay there was a time or 2... that I didn't jump or I didn't do the job well enough but those were the times I was severely punished. In my house there were 2 modes either not in trouble or in deep trouble. There was no such thing as a warning, the warning was the beating and "the next time you'll get it worse" type of comment. The clincher at the end of the punishment was no crying. When I got hit I was not allowed to cry, which was the hardest thing in the world because it was pretty darn painful. In the end I guess that taught me to man up and take it on the jaw without a blink.
In defense of my mom she had a difficult life and she did the very best she could, that's all I can say, the rest is for the book. My mother was not all brass knuckles, she also did a beautiful job at making us know love! Mom was affectionate and thoughtful, generous and protective. She simply wasn't going to raise her kids to be weak and lazy - bottom line. In the end, I am grateful for the way I was raised.
Just as other kids, I spoke those immortal words, "I won't do that to my kids". I have looked forward to this time in my life since I can remember. But I didn't realize until my oldest little princess turned sassy one day, proper and effective discipline is HARD. My husband is the cool, calm and collected type whereas I stand and charge without wasting a second. I admit that I have spanked my children, some more than others. Each child responded to it differently. With each year I have tried to find alternatives to spanking. One friend suggested I try soap in the mouth, tried that, totally cruel. Removed items from bedrooms, didn't make a difference, rooms cleaner though. Put the kids to bed early, it just gives them more time to walk out and ask questions and by their normal bedtime I am out of my mind. Got rid of toys, no difference except a cleaner toy room. I love the show where the nanny comes to the house and helps the parents figure out discipline, although we have it no where as bad as those people. Aaahhhhh, why can't this be easy?
I love my children and they know that without a doubt. I put their needs ahead of my own, most of the time. I pray with them, hug them, kiss them, cry with them, listen to them, talk to them, make them laugh and laugh with them. I let them make messes and get dirty because I think it is good for kids (totally outside of my personal comfort zone though). I teach them to keep house and do laundry because they will need to know those things later in life. I teach them to cook (although I'm not the greatest myself). I figure if I can give them a start my husband or mother-in-law can further the knowledge with their culinary talent. I encourage my kids to do things that I'm scared to do while I keep my fears to myself (ie: play with cats, go on ferris wheels, & go down water slides to name a few). Oh, the kids know what I'm scared of but they don't know why...
As a homeschool mom I am challenged by the same things their school teachers were challenged by and some days I want to run screaming out of the house. Then again other days they impress me with their wit and knowledge. Mostly I love having this time with my children, while other parents are commenting (often in front of their children) about how they cannot wait for their children to get back to school; I make no comment because I dread the day when my children go away.
With each birthday my children celebrate I worry more that I am guiding them in the correct ways to be strong, honest, hardworking, intelligent, clever, independent, trustworthy, resilient, creative, brave, but most of all holy people. I hope that I have not been too strict but there are times I worry I am not strict enough. I watch other moms and glean from them ideas and reassurance that I am not failing at this most important task I have been blessed with.
If you are still with me after all this blubbering; please share with me your ideas for how to deal with children who drag every toy and game out and end up playing with an Aldi box without a care in the world that seven rooms are now in total chaos? How do I keep my child on task with school, when they want to ask a rhetorical question every 90 seconds (the bad thing is that I usually answer - hook and bate)? How do I impress upon them the necessity of being well educated?
Oh goodness, as I read over this I see my problems are not bad at all. So their messy and more inclined to recess than study Arithmetic. I have great kids, fun kids, loving and honest kids. I think I'll go kiss all my sleeping kids, it seems the end to this challenging day is finally here.