“How did it go?” asked DW, his voice meeting me in the darkness.
“Today, I don’t want to be a parent,” I replied, crawling back under the covers.
One piece of advice I must never forget was given to me by a MOPS mentor mom. She told me that when making disciplinary choices, the hardest choice is usually the right choice. I had forgotten that little nugget, traveling carelessly down the easy path these last few months. I’ve been responding to bad behavior with threats, lectures and inconsequential losses of television and iPods. They are less constraining. They require less of me both physically and mentally. They also allow my children to save face in front of their peers and don’t make me look like the bad guy to other parents. Band-aids seem so much faster in the heat of the moment but regrettably are only temporary solutions on wounds that really need major sutures.
I faced one of many crossroads again last night. A disciplinary decision needed to be made and I was not prepared for the consequences. So I slept on it a while, or at least tried to sleep. DW and I discussed our parental options numerous times throughout the night. He is much better at holding his ground and standing firm. But since the offense involved me directly, I needed to address it myself. I can’t have DW fight my battles. We can not be divided in a way that makes him the bad guy and me the push-over. We are supposed to be a team, but throwing in the towel for a quick fix was looking more and more appealing. However, the more DW and I talked, the more I knew what really needed to be done. The harder decision was most definitely the right decision. I was also reminded of something Dr. Henry Cloud had written in one of his books about parenting and setting boundaries,
“If your boundary training consists only of words, you are wasting your breath. But if you ‘do’ boundaries with your kids, they internalize the experiences, remember them, digest them, and make them part of how they see reality.”
There is no time in parenting for wasted breath. Every breath counts. Every breath is necessary to the conditioning of our children’s future, to help them breathe life into who they want to be as an adult. It’s important for them to feel the sting of humiliation now when being held accountable for their actions, when stakes are relatively minor so that hopefully, hopefully, they will not make those mistakes in the future when the consequences are devastating. Losing temporary privileges like a cell phone, missing a class trip or not going to camp are nothing compared to getting fired, facing foreclosure or repossession.
Today I probably frustrated another parent. I also undoubtedly disappointed someone else’s child and have most likely embarrassed my own child in the process. Today one of my children looked at me with disgust and anger because I was making her accountable.
Today, it sucked being a parent.