Kids want what they want, and they want it now. Should we just give in? Sometimes. Maybe. Maybe not.
Have you experienced other people’s kids running all over the place, grabbing your stuff, throwing it around, treating your house like a playground? Maybe you’ve seen kids doing the same thing in the mall or grocery store, wherever. I expect most people have dealt with these little “cuties” at one time or another.
I can’t claim to have all the answers. I sure as hell don’t! But I have observed one reason I think increasingly more parents let their kids run amok: FEAR.
I have seen a lot of parents who are afraid that if they don’t indulge their kids’ every whim, they might somehow screw them up for life. They think their kids need to run around without boundaries so they can develop creativity, independence, individuality. They’re afraid to assume a leadership position and tell their kids “no.”
I call bullshit on this “parenting method.” These parents are misguided as hell (and it drives me crazy).
These people fail to recognize that if you indulge your kid too much, give them everything they want, even babies (especially babies!), you make them the boss. You let them choose what’s good for them. If I handed Gianna my new camera, what would she do with it? Plop it in her mouth, bang it against something hard, then toss it on the ground, of course. That’s not good for anyone, since it might screw up my camera, and it teaches her that it’s okay to grab other people’s stuff. And where’s the creativity in that? There’s nothing creative or educational about grabbing whatever gadget you come across and “exploring” it by smashing it against stuff.
That’s what baby toys are for.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Kids need to make their own choices. If they don’t, they’ll become wishy-washy, indecisive adults. Nobody wants that for their kids. I knew a kid growing up whose parents ruled with an iron fist and never let him make a decision of his own. They second-guessed his every move, criticizing him all the time, cracking the proverbial whip over just about everything he did. As a result, he is one of the most indecisive, hesitant people on the planet.
I don’t want Gianna to end up like him.
And really, seeing the result of their dictatorial parenting method, I wouldn’t ever do that to my kid. I want her to make decisions. Even now, at 11-months-old, Gianna gets to make some. They don’t include just seizing the tv remote or screaming in the grocery store, but as much as she can, she gets to choose which toys she plays with, some of the food she eats, and even when she’s going to take a nap (if you can believe that, although it’s true).
So in all my infinite wisdom, (yeah right–what the hell do I know?) what’s my answer to all this?
Balance. Like everything else in life, it comes down to balance.
Too much free-roaming playtime and your baby might become a monster. Too much playpen lockdown and your kid might be stunted. You need to constantly monitor what you’re doing as a parent. Are you giving the kid the right amount of free roaming playtime? How about the right amount of playpen time? We often realize we haven’t had Gianna in the playpen for a day or so and have just been letting her roam free, so we put her in there for a while.
It’s your job as a parent to determine when your kid is ready to make certain choices. As they get older, they should gradually be given more responsibility, which allows them to make more choices. It’s your job to prepare them for adulthood.
In Gianna’s case, I want her to become a responsible member of society, someone who contributes to the good of everyone. I know, I know, she’s going to have a green mohawk, wear anarchy shirts, pierce weird body parts, maybe snort coke off mirrors, all that crap. I’m preparing for that eventuality too (boy, I hope that doesn’t come to pass). In order to make this happen, we’re striving for a balanced parenting approach. So far, so good.
Did I just piss you off? Do you agree/disagree? Thoughts? Please rip me apart now! Let’s get the discussion going. I’m ready.