How often do you say that to your kids? How do you say it to your kids?
How hard is it to stand your ground? Especially when “everyone else is doing it”?
I bet most parents would admit to having a difficult time disciplining. You have to be very secure in your position. And you need to decide before you say it that you really mean it. You can’t cave in to pressure, manipulation, and “everyone else is doing it.” Even if everyone else really is.
Once, while I was sitting outside on my stoop, very pregnant, my 2-year old child ran into the street. I screamed, “ NO!” and moved as fast as my body would let me. I did not believe in spanking, but I do seem to remember that I “potched” (Yiddish, spanked) that time. It was probably unnecessary, though, as the horror in my voice and face, so different from my customary tone and demeanor, scared the crap out of my kid. Which was precisely the point and the lesson that needed to be learned.
I, too, learned from that early experience. I learned that any time I said “no,” it had to be said as firmly (although not as hysterically) as if I were prohibiting my child from running into the street. “No” had to mean “no” in no uncertain terms.
On this blog, I recently referred to a spoof that our kids had done about our family life. They are not only really terrific people, but they are all hilarious and we spend lots of time laughing together. For our 25th anniversary some years ago, they put together the “Top 11 Septimus Family Top 10 Lists.” They did another one five years later. My husband and I got to know what they really thought.
One of the most revealing lists, because it really helped us hear ourselves and gave us insight into how our kids perceived our parenting style, was the “Top 10 Septimus Parent Reasons for Saying No.” I quote:
1- It is not appropriate
2- We are not everyone else’s parents.
3- We do what we think is right for each kid.
4- I/We don’t think it’s a good idea.
5- That is not the way we do things around here.
6- That is not the ben/bat Torah way (meaning: not religiously consistent with our ideals).
7- I am not so and so’s mother.
8- We are not comfortable with the idea.
9- Because I/ We said so.
I think they got it. I really think they did. And I hope I live long enough to see what their kids write about them.