Monday, July 6, 2009

Why Ticking Off Your Kids Is Good

Last week, I asked readers... if you were seriously hungry, had one bite of food available, your kid had just eaten but asked you for that one bite... what would you do?

The winner of the "eat or defeat" poll (by just seven votes) was to eat it and explain that mommy needs food too. Splitting it in half came in a close second. 21% of you said you'd shove it in your mouth and yell "sucka." Not so great for the kids psyche but it certainly made me chuckle!

Complete results:
Eat it and explain mommy needs food too. 37%
Split it in half 31%
Shove it in your mouth and yell "sucka." 21%
Give it up, kids come first. 11%

Why did I such a random question?

When I first became a mom, I was absolutely, 100% in the mindset that a good mom would "give it up, kids come first." I lived and breathed the theory that the more uncomfortable I was, the better I was at being a mom. In fact, I would find myself annoyed when Jeff didn't subscribe to the same way of life, making his own needs a priority as well. It was like I saw my sacrifice as living proof that I loved them more than anything or anyone.

I don't know if it's experience, exhaustion, or a combination of the two, but my attitude has changed quite a bit since then. Of course I would still do absolutely anything for my kids but I now see the tremendous benefit of them realizing that mom and dad matter too. I think it's crucial to them becoming caring, empathetic, generous adults that they learn at a young age that it's not always about them.

I remember the battle that ensued on my blog months ago when I said I wanted to use the bathroom without a toddler on my lap -- the commenter accusing me of not being there enough for my daughter because she didn't have access to my arms for 30 seconds at a time. Ten months after coming home to us, my happy, independent daughter knows she is loved yet realizes that, like her brothers, sometimes she can't have everything she wants every second she wants it.

I regularly see parents who bend over backwards to constantly do for their kids. But the result is not always what they intended it to be. Instead of it making the kids feel loved and cared for, it creates a sense of entitlement and expectation, something that carries on throughout the rest of their lives. Praise, rewards and accolades are important, but no more so than frustrating your kids. In fact, some would argue it's our duty, the best way to show our kids we love them is to have them do for themselves. But where's the line between creating strong, self-sufficient members of society and sending them to therapy?


Siemens said...

Really worthwhile question! Kids do need to realize the universe doesn't revolve around them. Once we're gone, the world certainly won't meet their every need, so they need to have patience and be able to solve some of their own problems.

Anonymous said...

This post was so good! When I first had my son I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off to make sure the bottles were clean, my house was kept up, and dinner was ready...I was totally exhausted. I finally came to the realization that in order for my son to have a more fulfilled life I have to be healthy and happy first and foremost. But there will always be Moms out there who think the total opposite.

Beth said...

I totally agree with you on this! I wrote a post on my blog that was very similar. I also really think that the relationship between husband and wife needs to be prioritized because although you love and cherish your kids eventually they will leave the nest and unless you have worked to keep your marriage strong it will disintegrate. New to your blog and love it!

momwithfaithandhope said...

I think I'll just post a link to your blog. THANK YOU for this. When Peyt was first born, did I bend over backwards!!! OH MY. Last night, I really TICKED him off. Let him cry it out for nearly 40 minutes. . .I think I'm inpsired to do a post about supporting this "Ticking of your Kids" movement.

Hope said...

Amen to this post!! I do not have kids so I guess it's easy for me to say what I will and won't do....I totally agree that you don't just give up your entire life when you have kids to cater to them. We need more parents with your attitude -- maybe it would help some of the entitlement that seems most kids grow up with today. If I had half the attitude the kids of the new generation my parents would have killed me!!

Tiger said...

i think if you were beating your kids it would make perfect sense why someone would criticize you. However, i do understand why they'd be concerned that you're not endlessly coddling your child. It's good for the heart.

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