When your kids are small, you have most of the control because they don’t know any better. They don’t know that they can simply make the choice to stop listening. As my two older kids have gotten older I’ve noticed that they are so different. Opposites really. My 12 year old daughter seems to be in trouble ALL THE TIME. I can’t recall a day in my son’s 13 years that he’s ever been in trouble. She’s fiesty, he’s sensitive. She’s bold, he’s shy. She’s not scared of anything, he’s scared of everything. She cares too much about everything, he doesn’t care enough about anything.
I’m at this place in my parenting journey that is scary, it’s not fun. My daughter is figuring out that she doesn’t have to do every little thing I tell her to do, if I tell her not to do something she’s thinking “I’ll do it anyway, you can’t stop me.” It’s incredibly frustrating.
The question is what can we do as parents to guide them in the right direction and make them WANT to do the right thing. I don’t have an answer to this. I’ve tried everything myself. Grounding, talking, yelling, treats, taking things away. I’ve done it all.
My phone rang one day and it was my daughter’s teacher calling because once again my child broke the classroom rules. I asked to speak to my daughter and she turned into a whole different child, she cried she apologized, she said “yes ma’am” to everything I had to say. My daughter is fully aware that I do not tolerate disrespectful behavior. She doesn’t have the right to disrespect ANYONE, AT ANYTIME FOR ANY REASON. So why does she do it? Does she not get it? Does she honestly not know any better? Does she not care? Does she need attention? These are questions I ask myself and her all the time.
I can’t physically force my daughter to do anything. I can discipline her. I can punish her but that’s all I can do. I think way back to when she was a cute little girl who hung on my every word and wonder how we got here. My daughter is different. She was a micro preemie. She’s behind socially, emotionally and mentally. She’s not dumb. This girl can watch a YouTube video tutorial once and execute it all perfectly. She’s very smart, she’s got a lot of common sense and she’s very emotionally open. She likes to talk about her feelings, she asks about other people’s feelings. She cares and loves everyone. She has the sweetest little heart.
All her life I’ve made jokes about her being my wild child and my son being “the good one.” She’s got it in her head that she’s a problem child. I taught her that. She does a good job of living up to it. If I could go back and change anything in my life, it would be that. It’s just as important to reward positive behavior as it is to not reward bad behavior. I’ve had this outlook , she’s expected to behave and be respectful so I’m not going to reward something that she supposed to just do. Maybe I should change that. Maybe if I start pointing out the times she’s well behaved I’ll see it more often.
The truth is I’m glad she’s strong and fiesty. I’m glad she thinks for herself and says what’s on her mind. She’s definitely not passive and I love that about her. Little girls grow up to be women, I know she’ll grow up one day and we’ll laugh about all the times she’s gotten herself into trouble just like my mother and I laugh about my teenage behavior.
What’s important is that our children know that they’re loved and they know they’re safe. As long as you point them in the right direction and teach them right from wrong, you’ve done your job. You’ve been a good parent. They will make the right choices when it really counts because you’ve taught them to. I’m learning to be confident in myself as a mother. I’m confident that I’m raising good hearted people. I just wish they saw in themselves what I see when I look at them. I wish they could see themselves through the eyes of their mother.
At the end of the day I know she knows I love her and only wants what is best for her. She knows I’ve got her back and if she ever needs me I’m here. She knows I’ve got her back.