I have been called a strict and overbearing mother. I have also been told I let my kids get away with too much.
I have gotten dirty looks from strangers when my kids are crying or misbehaving in public. I have given into them when I shouldn’t have and paid for it later. I have had people move away from our table at a restaurant because my kids and I were laughing too hard.
I let them enjoy soda on special occasions and have been criticized for it. I take away sugary treats if they are misbehaving; I don’t care if we are at their best friend’s birthday party and I am getting the side-eye from every mother there.
When my oldest son misbehaves, the first thing I do is take away his cell phone. This is also known as the end of the world—for both of us.
It is an ongoing struggle parents face several times a day. How do we find that sweet spot when it comes to disciplining our children? We say no when we see fit, and say yes when we see fit. But honestly, some days I don’t let something happen even if I let it happen the day before. Circumstances change and what works as far as disciplining our children is rarely the same day in and day out.
People who know me (as well as those who don’t) have their opinions on how I discipline my children.They may think they know better, but really, all they know is what they would do in my situation. The thing is, they are not in my situation. They have no idea what happened between my family and me last week, yesterday, or even a few minutes ago. When they give me a dirty look or tell me I am too hard on my kids, they have no idea what has lead me to my decision.
I think all parents are trying to find this balance that may or may not exist. I still don’t know, and I have been at it for 13 years. We don’t want our kids to fear us. We want a relationship with them, but we want them to realize we are not their friends. We want them to come to us with problems and share their life with us, yet we don’t want to raise a bunch of snot-nosed brats. We want to be fair, but only we know when it is best to lay the smackdown. And how many times have we done that and felt like it was too harsh or thought we should have been tougher?
Trying to get it right is the toughest part of parenting.
Trying to find some middle ground is almost impossible.
No matter what you do, chances are your kids are going to think you are an unfair asshole. Honestly, I take this as a good sign. After all, it will set them up for the real world a lot better than being a permissive parent will.
Strangers who see your kids having a meltdown might think you are a pushover who is unfit to have a child.
I think finding balance in disciplining your children is much like anything else: Go by feeling. Some days you feel like Mary Poppins and others you feel like Cruella de Vil.
So the answer for me is this: I know how I want to parent, and it looks different every day. I am the parent, I decide, not my kids, not a stranger, not other family members.
I don’t care if it looks like I am doing it wrong to anyone else. If it feels right to me, that is my sweet spot, no explanation needed.