Five Things Mothers Wish You (And I) Would Stop Doing

by Abby M. King
Originally Published: 

As moms, we’re all on the same team, and as such, we need to look out for each other. Sometimes that means letting a fellow mother know if they are behaving in a way that’s driving everyone else nuts. And that sometimes is now. Please moms…

1. Stop Asking Your Kids For Permission. “Honey we are going to go outside now, ok?” “We’re going to take a shower now, ok?” “Let’s clean up first, ok?” “You need to wash your hands now, ok?” I hear parents asking their children for permission all the time and what I’m thinking in my head is “why are you asking your four year old if its ok to wash his hands now?” Honestly, most of the time we do not want give our children a vote. If I considered my kids opinions all the time, my life would be spent alternating between being inside all day watching my son play play Xbox and in the pool or ice rink with my daughter. My schedule is dominated by my kid’s activities but I am the one who runs the show. End the sentences with a period, not a question mark. Save the questions for those rare times when the kids actually do get a vote.

2. Do Not Talk About Yourself In The Third Person. When a baby is young, “mommy loves you” or “daddy is going to read you a book,” is necessary. You are teaching your infant who you are and the labeling yourself repetitively is needed. When your child turns two, though, enough is enough. The point has been made, the label has been learned and it’s time to move on. I recently heard “daddy’s going to make dinner now.” This was a 45-year-old man to an 8-year-old child. I almost threw up. It not only infantilizes the 8 year old, it also diminishes who you are. Your 8 year old should know you are a father, man, friend, professional… he is old enough to understand your entire entity doesn’t begin and end with “dad.”

3. Stop With The Empty Threats. “I’m going to take that ball away if you keep kicking it in the house. I’m going to take that ball away, I’m going to take that ball away, I’m going to take that ball away…” Please, take the f***ing ball away or shut up! Kids can sniff out a phony. It’s much better not to say anything, than to say something (again and again and again) and not follow through. What that teaches your kids, is that you won’t take the ball, you won’t remove them from the restaurant or make them miss a friend’s birthday party. There are days I am just not in the mood for true blue parenting. I am tired, hung-over or just had a long day. Those are the days where I am not going to take the ball away, so I don’t say a word. Then, when I do say something it will have weight. Teach your kids that if you say you will take that ball, you actually mean it.

4. Do Not Blame Your Kids. I was at friends house at dinnertime, helping set the table and I asked what the kids were drinking. The four year old was having juice or lemonade, his 3rd glass of the day and the 8 year old wanted root beer or Gatorade. These kids drink a lot of everything but actual water. My friend admittedly agrees it can be too much but his answer was “that’s what they like and that’s what they want when they see it in the fridge. They don’t like water” OH ok, I misunderstood; it’s really their fault they drink crap. Your kids can’t reach for Gatorade, lemonade, juice or root beer if it’s not in the fridge. If you can’t handle having things in the house and saying no, don’t buy them. If you can’t say no in the store, don’t bring them along on the shopping trip. If neither of these are options then at the very least don’t blame the kids for being kids. As a side note, I know water can be boring and I would love a continuous stream of diet coke in my veins at all times. But, I guarantee if that is the only choice, they will drink it.

5. Do Not Indulge Their Pickiness (at least not in front of the rest of us). I recently invited a family over and a few hours before, I got several texts: “are we going out or staying in? Oh, you already got food, what specifically did you get? Sorry to be a pain, the kids are picky.” Not only a pain but you are missing teaching your kids an important lesson. Show them how to move through the world with grace. This is NOT for those with allergies. This refers to the standard variety super picky child eater. I myself have one in the 7-year-old variety, no macaroni and cheese, no burgers, grilled cheese or anything all put together. ALL sandwiches are taken apart, bread, meat and cheese opened and eaten separately. I know it can be maddening, imagine the birthday party circuit with a kid who won’t eat pizza. When she was too young to behave gracefully I would bring a bagel from home and she would eat it along while her peers scarfed down their pizza. That policy has changed. She needs to know that if she is going to be picky it won’t be everyone else’s problem or drama. As the parent, I prepare by giving her a hearty snack before arrival. I remind her that if she doesn’t like what is served, say “thank you” and accept it nicely without a word of distaste. If she doesn’t want it, no one needs to be told, we don’t say “gross” or “I don’t like that” or come and whisper in my ear when our friends serve meals. She can keep it to herself, accept it graciously and appreciate the effort being made on our behalf.

If need be she can have something else when we get home. The truth is, if I have someone over, I always present innocuous food and l am usually already aware if the family includes picky eaters. Teach your kids to say thank you, shut up and have a granola bar later.

Take it from a former kid-permission asker and empty-threat giver: These behaviors suck. So, let’s stop. For each other.

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