Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fixing Parenting Mistakes

I feel that honoring each child as an individual is one of my parenting strengths. 

For their bedtime snacks, I lovingly prepare strawberries with blueberries for Thomas and strawberries and peaches for Marie.

Thomas wants ev.ry.body. at his t-ball game.  Marie prefers no one at her events.

Marie craves alone time. Thomas wants to do something with someone every moment of the day.

I felt very proud of my parenting approach, especially since this is not always easy to do.  But while on vacation in Myrtle Beach, I have witnessed the downside of catering to the individual.  It seems that I was so concerned with the personalized experience that I forgot the importance of coexisting in a group.

My theory has been that if Marie and Thomas felt that their unique needs were being met, they would have an easier time respecting the needs of others.  Since their buckets were full, they would have enough to go with the flow.

This has not been the case.

Instead of graciously putting their particular requirements aside, they were angry that they couldn’t have their way.  I was flitting around trying to make each one of them happy.  Marie wanted to go to the beach.  Thomas wanted to go to the pool (or worse yet, stay on the iPad).  Marie wanted to go out to eat.  Thomas wanted to stay home.

They were forced to eat pretzel bites while waiting to eat hamburgers at Margaritaville . . .
after they had fun at the aquarium.  Life is so unfair.

The bad attitudes and sheer defiance was beyond frustrating.  This glaring loophole in my parenting philosophy helped me to realize that I need to enforce more of a group mentality and help my kids embrace flexibility.

Why eat outside as a family and enjoy the ocean view . . . .

when you can eat inside by yourself. 

This week, we are embarking on another adventure: we are going on a road trip and will be houseguests.  And quite frankly, I will feel a deep sense of failure mixed with embarrassment if my kids pull the same shenanigans that they did in Myrtle Beach.

On this road trip, I will be starting my new parenting campaign: Be Flexible.

I wanted to be all badass and force encourage this change straight from vacation by having them try Indian food, but that did not happen.

So in the past month, I’ve been enforcing more time outs, following through with my expectations of manners, and not catering to dietary preferences during dinnertime.

This was not easy.

Which is probably why I have not been doing it consistently.

But honestly, I do not want to raise inflexible kids that have no awareness of anyone’s needs other than their owns.  So from here on out, I will be towing that delicate line of honoring the individual and honoring the group’s needs as well.

How do you that - raise kids who understand the importance of listening to their inner compass while realizing they have to go with the flow? Seriously, I am asking because I do not feel like I am doing it right.

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