Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mama doesn't give a crap if you're mad

I don't feel like I'm really able to relate to the other parents in my and Elle's parent/child class. I'm the only person in the class who has a child older than the one enrolled in the class. I don't know if this helps to explain why all the other parents seem so uptight. They all talk about power struggles and temper tantrums and how sometimes their kids just drive them crazy. I feel like I never have anything to contribute to these conversations. When it's my turn to talk I almost always end up saying things like "I really don't have a problem with any of that stuff."

I know it makes me seem like I think I'm a superior parent but that's really not the way it is. It's just that when it comes to tantrums and power struggles I just try not to sweat the small stuff. Today in class we were talking about power struggles again and when it was my turn to talk I said "I try to avoid even getting into power struggles all together. If Elle's mad at me because I put white socks on her and she wants red socks then I give in and give her what she wants. If she's mad at me because she doesn't want to be buckled in her car seat, well then, I'm a lot bigger than her and one way or another she's getting buckled into that car seat. Some things can be debated but others obviously can't."

One of the other parents looked suprised and said "But what if she gets mad at you?" Three others echoed "Yeah, what if she gets mad?" I paused for longer than I probably should have as I thought "Are they for real? That cannot be a serious question can it?" Finally I slowly responded with "Um ..... Then she gets mad at me." It was all I could do to keep from adding "Duh!" at the end.

Maybe it's just me but I don't consider it my job to keep my kids from getting mad at me. I mean, of course I don't want them to be mad at me and I would love it if they were happy all the time but that just ain't gonna happen. I have to accept that sometimes I'm going to piss them off. I don't think you can be a very effective parent if you're walking around afriad that you might make your child mad.

I don't think it's such a bad thing for Elle to be mad at me once in a while. She's learning her own mind and figuring out how to assert herself. Hopefully she's learning that sometimes she'll be able to get what she wants and sometimes she'll have to go along with what someone else says. And if I'm being totally honest I have to admit that I find Elle's temper tantrums a little bit cute. Her little face gets red and her little back arches and she does her best to squeeze out a tear or two. I find it adorable.

What do you think? Do you have to keep your child happy all the time? Can power struggles ever be "won" or have you already lost by just getting into them? What in the hell is up with the goofy ideas some of the other parents in the class have?

8 comments:

StickyKeys said...

My only point of reference is when dealing with my nieces and nephews. I think a lot of people forget that their kids LOVE them, and that sometimes disliking them isn't that big a deal as long as it's not intentional you know? If they don't like you because you go upside their head then that's warranted and they'll probably stop loving you a bit.

But a little dislike? S'okay.

Judy said...

I'm with you Jen...what difference does it make if it is red socks or white socks (maybe to baseball fans)it's a non-issue.....the car seat, different case entirely. It's good for kids to express their emotions, and to see how other people react to them. It is not always pretty, but then neither is life. Entering a power struggle with a small child is totally useless (probably even more useless when they are teens, but then you can let them "prove up their case"). I think that your approach is very good, don't play the game. When Elle is having one of her cute tantrums, the most important thing is not to laugh at her, that would devalue her feelings, which is not helpful to anyone. Feelings can be acknowledged without "giving in." I think you and Jesse are doing a fantastic job raising your kids. Keep going to the classes, you have a lot to offer those first time parents!!!! Judy

Angela said...

My seven year old has worn the exact same brand of white socks from Target since she was three because she is fixated on wearing THOSE socks and only THOSE socks. No skin off of mine...we all have our preferences. I totally agree with you. I have become an expert at picking my battles...but I never worry about whether or not my kids will be mad at me. That's ridiculous. If I only behaved in ways which were acceptable to my kids, they wouldn't feel very safe in the world, would they? I pick my battles, but my kids definitely know that their parents run the show..and last time I checked, kids preferred things this way. They don't want to be in charge or call all of the shots, even if it means that they might get mad. We are really respectful of our kids feelings, but we don't ever avoid making them mad--we do what we think is best for them--respectfully.

~JJ! said...

Shit, my kid gets mad at me all the time...

I tell her, I don't need to be your friend, I need to be your mother...you can be mad at me.

andi said...

I'm with you 100% on this one. Mothers who just want to be their child's friend? Super annoying.

What will these always-happy children do when they are eventually made unhappy by someone other than mama? They are going to have a very screwed up idea about how the world works and their sense of justice and fairness is going to be off. Better to learn those things sooner, rather than later.

Ben said...

I never asserted myself as a kid and look where that got me.

Well, you know where I'm going with this.

slackermommy said...

I have no problem ticking off my kids. My problem is that I want to be right and I engage in power struggles to win. It took me a long time to realize the bad habit I had gotten into. My hubby on the other hand can't handle our kids being mad at him. I point it out to him but he just doesn't get it. He has a passive-aggressive personality and I wonder if that has something to do with it.

nell said...

Crazy parents. My kids get mad at me, I get mad at my kids, it's just part of life. I really wonder about children who are raised in an environment where their parents pretend not to have the full range of human emotion or worry constantly about their little darlings having "bad" feelings. And Andi is right - parents who want to be their child's friend creep me out.