Tag: motherhood

essay

Teaching Children

This started with the book 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. One of his rules is, “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.” He goes on to say that we should discipline our children and teach them social norms. He says:

Because children, like other human beings, are not only good, they cannot simply be left to their own devices, untouched by society, and bloom into perfection.

And:

A child will have many friends, but only two parents—if that—and parents are more, not less, than friends.

Parents need to be parents and help their kids, and kids like limits. They like when their parents set those limits. I have noticed, since reading that book, that after I calmly discipline my daughter, instructing her to do the right thing, there is an increase of love with each other. She loves me more afterwards, not less. It may make her angry for a moment, but she feels safer knowing that I’m watching out for her and teaching her.

This sentiment is echoed The Collapse of Parenting by Leonard Sax. He tells parents to get their kids off screens, have consistent discipline, and teach respect and self-control to my kids.

Command. Don’t ask. Don’t negotiate. Modern American parents are forever rationalizing their decisions to their children. There are many problems with that approach. The mere fact that the parent feels compelled to negotiate already undermines the authority of the parent. When you lay down a rule, and your children ask why, answer, “Because Mommy (or Daddy) says so.

I need to be both supportive and authoritative. Sometimes it’s hard to set those limits and follow through. It’s easy to let kids be on screens for hours at a time. It’s easy to do all the work and not have them help with the chores. It’s easy to say they can do what they want.

But it’s not good for the kids. I’ve been trying to be better: they have to sit down and listen sometimes. We put away the TV for five days a week. We try to do daily chores and dish jobs (still a work in progress). I try not to tolerate it when they back talk and remind them to be respectful.

Growing up, we had a book that was called What to Do When Your Mom or Dad Says “Clean Your Room!” I loved that book growing up because it tells you exactly how to clean your room, and I still use some of this methods to this day. I was searching on the internet to get a copy, and I found that there was a whole series called The Survival Series for Kids, written in the early 1980s.

So I ordered a set of 17 books. When they came, I looked through all of them. Parenting has changed a lot.

We don’t teach manners anymore, partly because adults don’t always have manners either. Do you know what you should do when someone stops by your house? Well, first, no one is going to stop by your house without texting you first. But if they do, do you remember to invite them in, take their coat, and ask if they would like to sit down?

Do you ever say, “It’s nice to meet you?” Do you instruct your kids to call adults by respectful names, like Mrs. and Mr.? Do you have regular expectations for your kids, like the chores they need to do and having them help clean up and cook? Do you do things for your kids that they could do for themselves? Do you tell your kids you can’t afford it? Do your kids know how to hold a conversation with a stranger? Do you kids know when to say thank you? Do your kids know how to behave in public, like holding still and not talking out of turn? Do you tell your kids to put away screens when they talk to other people? Do you do that?

It made me realize that we forget to teach our kids how to behave. We pretend kids are adults and we treat them that way, which leads to a lot of disrespect and even confusion.

So I’m working on it. I want to be a little old-fashioned in some ways.

essay

Having it all

We can’t have it all.

As mothers, sometimes we feel pressure to do everything: work, stay-at-home, go back to school, start a new business, sign our kids up for various programs, do a better job at taking care of our house, whatever.

I know a lot of moms who work–and it’s really hard to balance work with family and home. You often feel like you are always in the wrong place. I know a lot of moms who stay at home–and it’s really hard to feel like you have purpose when you stay at home. Sometimes you battle loneliness, depression, and low self-esteem. And there are a lot of moms who are somewhere in-between.

There is always too much to do.

Motherhood requires sacrifice, no matter what your life looks like. And your life will never be quite the ideal. Something always seems to be missing.

And we are often worried about what others think. No one has the ideal life, really–it’s just a whole bunch of messiness. No one has it figured out in a way that’s right for everyone–we have to figure out our own specifics.

Sometimes that means working. Sometimes that means going back to school. Sometimes that means saying that now is not the right time. Sometimes it means really long days at home with your children.

We need to stop judging other people for whatever choices they make. But more importantly, we need to stop judging ourselves and instead just continue on the best that we know how.

We can count our blessings and help each other figure out how our individual lives should look like. We have to learn to make sacrifices of good things that we want in favor of what is better for us and our children.

And we should remember that our lives are going to be different from we expect, and instead of worrying about having it all, we should worry about having the right thing for us.

Right now, I’m a stay-at-home mom and I’m starting to homeschool my kids. I didn’t choose homeschooling as much as it was simply the right thing to do. With all four kids at home, I don’t have as much time to do some of my own projects. I’m also planning on going back to school in the fall. I don’t know how it will all work out. That’s okay. I’ll figure it out.

I do know that when I trust in what is right for me and my family, things will be all right.

It’s not going to be perfect and we’ll have horrible days and really good days. But we just keep trying.

my life

My Life as a Mom Today

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I don’t really want to do this today.

My two-year-old took off his poopy diaper today while I was taking a nap. We are attempting potty training. The diaper was on so that I could take the nap. I woke up because of the screaming baby who wanted attention, but the diaper situation won over her cries. We got him all cleaned up, as well as parts of the bathroom that had gotten a bit dirty in the process. And then I picked up the baby.

The reason I needed a nap is because my baby has suddenly forgotten that is she supposed to sleep in her bed at night and she has long periods of either crying or sleeping by my face, which is not restful.

Before my nap, I had spent an hour on Instagram because I was tired and I wasn’t making good decisions. I let the two-year-old and the four-year-old to watch movies or play games or do whatever.

The furniture in the toy room was rearranged today (not by me) and there are games scattered across my living room. Remnants of peanut butter and jelly sandwich are still stuck to the counter and cracker crumbs cover the dining room floor. Did I eat lunch?

The boys are outside while I am writing this, and a part of me wishes I was out there with them, but I have a house to clean up and a baby who still needs to eat something for lunch, even though it is way past lunch time.

My four-year-old insists that I make him jell-o, and I don’t know why he wants it so bad. He’s been pestering me about it all day, which probably means that I should just boil the water and make the jell-o and everyone will be happy. But I don’t. Because I don’t like orange jell-o, when it comes down to it, and that’s the only flavor we have.

I’ve had a string of really good days — some of them have been productive, some of them have involved adventures, and some of them have just been totally normal. Today doesn’t feel like another good day. I’m tired.

But eventually I will get sleep. And even this not-as-good day was full of good moments: I talked to my mom. I read a book as the boys lined up dinosaurs in patterns I didn’t understand. I sorted through the Pokémon cards with my four-year-old and we figured out how many cards we own have over 100 HP. I played Candy Land. I made my baby smile.

At one point, an alarm rang on my phone. It has a text-to-speech function and announces, “Potty,” in a weird, computer voice. I look up after dismissing the alarm to find my two-year-old without any clothes on his lower half, carrying pants towards me. Too late, alarm. Much too late.

Life is about continuing to try. The house will get cleaned up. Dinner will happen in some form or another. I will probably make orange jell-o today and I will go outside and play in the melting snow, happy that it is melting.

So I guess I do want to do this after all. That even through the exhaustion, this is my life. I will keep doing laundry, keep picking up my baby when she cries, keep trying to teach my children how to be responsible while trying to remain responsible myself.

And know that no matter how hard it feels sometimes, this is the life I have always wanted.