I Know You Mean Well but Don't Tell My Kids What to Do
Consistency is key to raising happy and well-behaved children. Read on to find out the consequences of sending contradicting messages to a child.
Raising children is ridiculously tough. You know that. I know that. It’s ubiquitously agreed upon. It takes an incredible amount of time, effort, patience and tears to set practices, routines and boundaries. So please don’t tell my kids what to do for it messes up what I put in place.
When you tell my kids what to do, it goes against what I painstakingly set. It wreaks havoc in our daily lives so please don’t tell my kids what to do.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the loving grandparent, the doting aunt, the caring relative or the well-meaning friend. It doesn’t matter if you’re the primary caregiver I’m entrusting my child with. When you tell my kids that it’s ok when I said it’s not, there are serious repercussions. Let me explain why.
Consistency is key to raising a disciplined and well-mannered child. A consistent approach to discipline helps put kids in control of their behaviour. And everyone needs to sing the same tune because children learn how to approach the world by observing the behaviour and values of the people around them. The more consistent the messages they get, the more safe and stable they feel.
Consistency means that we say something and we follow through and do what we said we would.
If we have a no gadget rule, we stick to a no gadget rule. If bedtime is 8pm, the kids go to bed at 8pm, whether or not we have visitors. If the kids break the rules or behave poorly, they face the consequences and we don’t give them second and third chances.
I know it may sound ruthless, but that’s the kind of foundation you lay for a harmonious and happy relationship to flourish. It may be an easy, short-term solution to give in to the child, but that’s only going to lead to more tears, screaming and maybe even smacking in future. And nobody wants that!
So please I urge you don’t tell my kids what to do for when you do, the message they get is that they have options, that rules can be bent and that promises can be broken. They may question my credibility or me as a figure of authority.
Don’t tell my kids what to do because they then think that they form a team with you, against me, the common enemy. It’s not easy to play the bad cop so please don’t make it harder for me.
When I tell my kids that M&Ms are bad for them, don’t tell them that it’s not because you know it is. In their presence, you tell me that they are kids and M&Ms are a part of their childhood, that a packet or two every now and then won’t hurt.
But it’s not you dealing with the sugar rush that it causes. It’s not you dealing with them demanding to know why I say it’s bad for them when you said it isn’t. It’s not you having to hear them say, Mommy is lying M&M’s aren’t bad for me. You’re a bad mommy.
You and I can understand that yes, an occasional packet of it won’t do any harm. But they can’t process that. They look at things simply. It’s either black or white. If it doesn’t hurt to have it today, it won’t hurt to have it tomorrow.
And what makes you think that I want to deprive them of a happy and enjoyable childhood? I will do everything in my ability to give them the best possible childhood. I believe that there are many other ways they can enjoy their childhood and not eating some candy that’s really bad for them does not equate to them having a ‘deprived childhood’ as you call it.
Don’t tell my kids what to do, I believe I know what’s best for them to eat or not to eat.
More than all of that, it’s about respecting the fact that I’m their mother. I make certain choices for them and I assure you it’s in their best interest. I understand you mean well for them, but what makes you think that I don’t, or care any less than you do for my children? Unless you see me endangering or abusing my child, please respect the decisions I make for them whether or not you agree with me.
Likewise, if I tell my kids that not a day goes by without them practising their piano pieces or reading a book before they sleep, please don’t take the liberty to give them the green light to do otherwise. And please don’t tell me things like, Come on, cut them some slack, it’s not like they are taking their piano exam tomorrow, or, Not reading a book for one night doesn’t do any harm.
Maybe you think I am making a mountain out of a molehill. But what you don’t see is that I don’t want them to get the message that it’s ok to cut corners and slack off. I know they are tired or are not feeling up to it, but I am building their resilience and perseverance so help me out if you can.
It’s no different when it concerns nap time, resting, drinking enough water, not drinking sweet drinks, not buying them guns as gifts, not allowing them to use handphones and Ipads and tablets and everything else under the sun. You have your views and you are entitled to them. I would never interfere in the way that you parent. I’d never tell your kids what to do so please don’t tell my kids what to do.
If you think my parenting is ridiculous then I respect your opinion but even then, don’t tell my kids what to do.
In addition to not telling my kids what to do, I would appreciate you not telling me what to do either. It’s fine if you want to advise me but please don’t oppose what I do, in the presence of my kids. Don’t berate me for how I discipline them and don’t belittle my concerns.
At the end of the day, I know you mean well for my child the same way I do, and I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. I welcome your feedback about my parenting and I will listen objectively if you tell me at the right time and place. Maybe I will learn something, maybe I will change something I do or maybe we might just agree to disagree.
But please don’t tell my kids what to do.