We know a family with two children: one in middle school and one in elementary school. The elementary-aged child is babied. When he’s winning and when he gets what he wants, his happy, smiling face looks like an angel. When he’s not the best at something/not winner, he storms off or fakes an injury complete with fake tears. When he doesn’t get what he wants, he whines, yells and cries. He’s old enough to know better.
The mom does not discipline his behavior. Sometimes she tries to explain to him, rationally, why he can’t do/have exactly what he wants at that moment, hoping I guess, that he’ll see her side of it and agree. Nope. He just gets louder, turns on the tears and she gives in.
Her middleschooler has always been mature in front of me. That is, until earlier this month. I saw her interrupt her mother’s conversation to start whining about something she wanted. Something that she was old enough to do for herself, but wanted her mom to do for her instead. Her mom reminded her she was in the middle of a conversation, there were many options in the house from which she could choose, go get yourself what you want. The middleschooler stomped her foot, raised her voice and told her mom she didn’t like any of those options and wanted her mom to go get another option for her. The mother excused herself to the person she was talking to and walked off with her daughter, her head down.
At first, I was shocked to see the older child act that way, but then it dawned on me: why should she be mature, patient and not get what she wants all the time? She had watched her brother whine, raise his voice and/or evoke tears for years and get everything he wanted, so she was finally employing the tactics herself. Right or wrong, she’s a smart cookie!
It’s not how we raise our child, but she’s free to raise hers however she wants.
It’s tough raising a man in America. Instant gratification, technology, entitlement, lack of work ethic/conscience/moral compass are just a few of the things we have to deal with, work around or develop in our son. B does not receive everything he wants. Sometimes it’s because we can’t give them to him, but mostly it’s because we choose not to. And he’s expressed his unhappiness about it several times. It would be so much easier to give in, to spoil him with things and do everything for him. However, what kind of man would we be releasing on the world one day? Would he even be a man or just a large, entitled child? We gladly fight the battles as the come because our eyes are on the end result. He will be an amazing man, employee, employer, spouse, whatever he wants to be. He already is an amazing teenager, even though we still butt heads over things.
That being said, we do doubt ourselves as parents at times. Deep down we know we’re doing the right thing, but we still worry. Sometimes, we just get tired of fighting the battles and are tempted to give in.
Yesterday we witnessed the boy I spoke about at the beginning of this post throw a fit in the middle of the street. I said to B, “I know your dad & I raise you harder than others. We’re more strict and we hold you to a higher standard than some other parents. Would you rather we raised you like that boy is being raised?”
He replied, “No way! I mean, sure, it’d be nice to have whatever I want, whenever I want. But, Mom, if you raised me like that, I’d never get anywhere in life.”
Sometimes you just need an affirmation from the horse’s mouth that you’re doing right by your child.