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Archive for August 8th, 2009

The Gift of Discipline

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For two hours my husband and I tag teamed my son. We took turns climbing up and down the stairs trying to enforce his bedtime.  Zane is our youngest and until two months ago, the easiest of our three children to get to sleep.  Until then, we would take him up, read him a story, cover him up and count down from ten while rubbing his back.  When we reached zero, we would say, “Good night, good night, my little dinosaur,” just like in his favorite book, he would wave to us and we would leave.  That was it.  As the kids say, “Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.”

But that has all changed.  Now, almost every night is a fight with some nights turning into an all out war.  Two nights ago we had just that – a war.  We spent two hours climbing the stairs up to his room.  We warned him, we followed through, we even used our angry voices but nothing worked.  Finally, I decided that enough was enough.  I forced the issue, lights out, music off, and lay down now!” I demanded.  And he cried. He had been crying but apparently this outburst of mine was just too much because he lost it.  Still I would not turn on the lights or his music, I had set my foot down and down it would stay.

His tears turned into anger and suddenly my three year old son was shouting at me.  “Go away Mommy. Go away! I DON’T LIKE YOU!”  And my heart broke into a million tiny little pieces.  I told him the only thing a mommy can in that situation, “Well, I am sorry, because I love you. Now go to sleep.”  For fifteen more minutes he cried and screamed until finally he fell asleep.

Any other night I might have wallowed in self pity because of his words, but to be honest I was exhausted from the struggle.  I went right to sleep and woke up the next morning patting myself on the back for standing my ground.  Sometime in the night, I realized I had done just what I should have.  I had had the courage to be hated for a few minutes by my child.

My other two children are teenagers now and over the years there have been plenty of times when they hated me.  But neither they nor I are any the worse for wear.  We have come out the other side and I believe deep in my heart that they are better people for the discipline they have received.

Watching my two older children I realize that I have a parenting philosophy.  I believe that discipline is a gift we give our children.  It is not an easy gift to give but it is one that will provide a foundation for the rest of their lives. There are moments when I want to give in but then I look at my older two children and I remind myself how great they are and how they got here and I realize how unfair it would be to Zane to give in and give him everything he wants.  I remind myself how much easier his life will be if he learns that there are rules and boundaries that are not to be crossed.  And finally I remind myself that I stand my ground because I love him and maybe tomorrow he will love me.

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