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>Being a parent means acting like one

>I was shocked to read this recent article suggesting that our children’s generation is suffering from an epidemic of preventable diseases (http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_8615000/8615795.stm)

One case is that of a small girl having to have half her molars extracted. The cause, excessive sugar in her diet, not least as a result of eating half a cup of tomatoe sauce a day!

Come on, even for an adult that’s not exactly a good idea. And as a parent surely it’s our job to say no, to set limits, to act as parents.

Except increasingly I see parents who are reluctant to say no, to discipline their child, to stop inappropriate behaviour.

It appears that they don’t want to say no because it upsets their child and they want to be liked more than they want the fuss over, say, not playing with the buttons on my television and damaging it. Or making them sit at the table to eat their lunch with the rest of the family. Or any of the other tiny battles that populate a day with a small determined person.

And as a result of this we seem to be raising a generation of mini dictators who won’t accept no or boundaries. And parents who sit there watching the destruction whilst parroting that ‘she just won’t listen to no’.

I’m afraid that this is just rubbish. As a parent you have to hold the line, maintain the boundaries, say no. And yes, it’s not nice having to deal with the resultant tantrums but they are part and parcel of the job. Unless we keep holding that line we will end up bringing up a spoilt, terror who cannot deal without getting what they want exactly when they desire it. And life doesn’t work out like that.

So you will see me walking out of Sainsburies with a screaming toddler under one arm after I make the unreasonable decision to stop her pulling items off the shelves, I am the one putting my child on the sorry step when she persists in throwing her food after being asked not to, I am the parent who won’t hand over a biscuit until she says thank you.

That hardline approach may make me a draconian monster in your eyes but I am doing these things out of love, out of a belief that holding this line will ultimately serve her better than giving in and allowing her to run riot.

The only trouble is that if your child comes into my house, unfortunately I will find it very hard to not say anything when you allow them to wreck the place – my house, my rules, I’m afraid.

What do you think? Anything for a quiet life, even if it’s storing up problems for the future? Or are you standing firm in the face of a short terrorist?

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19 comments to >Being a parent means acting like one

  • TheMadHouse

    >I have learnt that for me it is a matter of picking my battles, in order to win the war over my curly haired terrorists!

    I used to be very strict, but going in to hospital last year meant that physically I could pick them up and carry them anywhere, but they do know when I mean business.

    I am strict at eating at the table as a family, manners and behaving when out. No hitting is acceptable from me or them.

    The thing is I am lucky in that my friend feels the same, so her son too accepts that level of disapline on a Friday hen we look after him

  • Noble Savage

    >I agree that parents need to set boundaries and deal with the consequences when their child steps over them, but I don't think it's as black and white as you're perhaps making out. Every parent has different limitations and what is an absolute no-no to one might not be a big deal to another. Some expectations of children's behaviour is not age-appropriate and so "holding firm" does seem pretty futile.

    For example, some of the other parents at my daughter's pre-school are very strict about their children not running ahead of them on the way to school, I suppose because they are afraid they will fall into the road or not stop at the lights. My daughter rides a scooter to school and zooms ahead of me because she knows to wait for me at pre-designated spots along our route and I can always see her. But some of her friends' parents would freak the hell out when she started riding ahead because then their child wanted to run to keep up with her. They looked at me like I was supposed to get my child to modify her behaviour (one I was fine with) just because they were not comfortable with their child doing the same. They didn't want their 3 and 4-year olds to run at all, or 'horseplay' on the way to school. That, to me, is not something children that young are going to understand so instead of fighting it and shouting at my daughter to walk and stop running all the way to school, demanding she hold my hand and walk at my pace, I taught her how to do her own thing but safely. But judging by the looks and comments of some other parents, you'd think I was pushing her out into traffic and sending their own children in after her!

    Everyone is going to parent differently and each child is different too. We all have to pick and choose our battles. I'm probably more strict on some things than others but completely lax on behaviours others won't tolerate. You're right, however, that guests in your home need to respect and abide by your rules when they are there. That's just a no-brainer.

  • JulieB

    >Hear, Hear!
    I think there is a perception that children these days are spoiled due to the rise of working mothers and their guilt (it appears we get blamed for so many things!) The theory goes that somehow we overcompensate for the lack of time we spend with our children by giving in to their every whim. This is something I am very conscious of NOT wanting to do, and like you, I am a strong believer in setting children boundaries. This is the only way they will grow up as decent human beings in the future.

  • The Dotterel

    >Couldn't agree more, and although I used to pour scorn on the 'things ain't what they used to be' brigade when I began my teaching career, there was a distinct down-turn in behaviour in the course of the twenty odd years I spent in the classroom. I frequently found myself teaching children the kind of things their parents should have taught them years ago, but it began to be an almost accepted part of the job as parents abrogated more and more of their responsibilities.

    Interestingly I had a comment from a parent on a recent post of mine about attending parents' evenings saying in no uncertain terms that they resented schools taking over more and more parental duties! A few more like that and we wouldn't need to!

  • Modern Dilemma

    >I think many parents are simply too scared to discipline. I'm no ogre but I expect certain levels of behaviour from my children and when they are not met, there are punishments including time out, grounding, loss of privileges etc. Thankfully, these are rarely used as we are consistent in our expectations due to eldest having ADHD. We have ups and downs but generally things are well managed.

    Some friends have a look of horror when they witness me adopting a stern voice, telling my child I'm disappointed and then telling them the consequences of their behaviour.

    These friends I should add, are also the parents of children who are often over-indulged in every way. There behaviour is highly questionable at times but due often to the lack of parental ability to stand their ground than the child being fundamentally "naughty". I don't know if its a want of an easy life, or a need to be liked and adored always by their child or simply that they cannot be arsed.

    I have no problem with people who bring up their children in this way. Truly. I assume they think they are doing the right thing for their kids, they are not harming them (in a way which would concern Social Services) so we have to live and let live.

    The problem I have, is when people make faces/roll eyes/make comments because I will not be that type of roll over parent. My kids deserve better than that from me. I want them to know what is and what is not acceptable, whether they are 6 or 16. If that means being the bad cop sometimes, then so be it.

    Great post.

    MD x

  • Very Bored in Catalunya

    >Brilliant post. Whilst I agree with Noble Savage that we all have different ideas and some things matter more to us than other people. There are some fundamental things that a lot of parents are not teaching their children. Manners for instance. Respect for their peers and other adults. The word 'no'.

    I don't know whether it's pure laziness not to install some discipline or because they don't want their precious child to be upset but they are just raising future obnoxious brats who think they can have everything their own way, with no regard for anyone else.

  • Jen

    >Most of the parents I know are fine about setting boundaries and seem to get the balance right. I know one parent who just doesn't actually parent at all the the child still throws major tantrums at 8 years old, crazy. Having a bit of a sulk (normal for an 8 year old I think) is hugely different to an out and out screaming tantrum, it always shocks me! Jen.

  • 1 husband, 2 kids (and lots of books)

    >I think boundaries and manners are essential. I try to enforce them as nicely as possible, distraction etc. and keep crying to a minimum but at the end of the day some things are unacceptable and they'll only go on getting more and more unacceptable as the child gets older. I actually think we owe it to the children because when they get to 8/9 and they're rude and selfish (more than normal) everyone will begin to judge them, not want to play with them etc.(and I've watched this happen to Son's cousin) and really a lot of that is down to not having the right example set by parents when they were younger. It is far, far harder to start disciplining an older child than to do it in gentle steps all the way along… in my opinion that is

  • rosiescribble

    >I think children need boundaries most definitely so parents have to say no when it is appropriate. If I didn't do this then my daughter would get what she wants, go to bed whenever she wants and we would both be miserable. I think it is daft to worry about saying no to children for fear of upsetting them. I think this definitely stores up problems for the future.

  • Tara@Sticky Fingers

    >I actually think children like to have boundaries and to know what the 'rules' are.
    However I do think that it's also important to explain why those boundaries are in place and not just do the 'because I said so' approach.
    I hate that, always have done, so why shouldn't children know why they can't do/say something?

    Children get to a naturally rebellious age. Which is fine, but if they know the consequences of their actions they may just think longer and harder about it.

    My husband's sister and her husband brought their two children up with the 'no discipline/no telling off' method and boy are they regretting it now!

  • Clara

    >Really I couldn't agree more!
    I am the one you're describing… though to be honest, I realize I am skipping the "thank you" part, probably I feel I am acting like an automat ("what do you say?"). But yes, no excuses, it is a hard and never-ending job.

  • Sarah

    >I totally agree!
    But the thing that makes me really cross is other parents telling their child that if they don't stop doing something then 'The lady' or 'The teacher' or someone else will tell them off. NO!! IT'S YOUR JOB AS THEIR PARENT TO TELL THEM OFF!!

  • Mummyfiles

    >Well said. Our little darlings need to learn manners and bounderies to prepare them for the real world outside of the safety of their safe four walls.
    I do sometimes pick my battles if I am exhausted but ultimately it is my job to discipline my son and ensure he grows up to be a good and respectful boy.

  • Mwa

    >I'm so with you on this one. I've noticed my children get a lot whinier/unhappier when I don't clamp down on bad behaviour straightaway. They test me, and they do NOT like it when I fail the test.

  • Heather

    >it is frightening to think what this generation will grow up to become if their parents never put their foot down and set boundaries.

  • babybornfreebottles

    >I agree with you all the way. We are creating the society of the future so it's our responsibilty to make sure it's a good one. I think that teaching a child to tow the line is vital and teaching them to understand the reason behind it is just as important.
    Great post
    Anne x

  • Alice

    >Totally 100% agree with you. I was brought up with parents who are strict but in a loving and caring way and both my brother and I always had a lot of respect for other people and their belongings, something I think is lacking in a lot of children these days. Discipline is SO important and I plan to toe a tough line with it!

    Oh, and I made it to the ripe old age of nearly 25 with no fillings, I think that says something about how sensible my parents were when feeding us as kids!

  • Livi

    >Good for you! There are far too many kids nowadays that get everything their own way and are causing problems at school because parents want to be "friends", or are having kids as a fashion accessory. That child is going to grow up into an adult, and an adult throwing a tantrum because they've been told no is just not going to be accepted.
    We need more parents like you that realise that discipline is not "evil" or "mean", it's necessary.

  • Sandy Calico

    >Late to the party as usual!
    Just wanted to say hear hear.
    One of my friends lets her 2 year old dictate when she goes to bed. This can be as late as 3am! Unbelievable. Who's the parent?

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