Yesterday, after getting home from work, my husband, Seth, told me a story. He warned me that Dietrick had spread Play-Doh all around the office, including all over my desk and keyboard. Now, I’m a bit of a neat freak when it comes to my home office. I need things to be clean and orderly – and I especially hate for anything on my desk to be touched (i.e., moved from its proper place) or dirty. When Seth told Dietrick that he (age 4) had better clean up his mess before Mommy got home or “Mommy will be mad and whip you,” Dietrick replied confidently, “No Daddy, she won’t whip me; Mommy’s nice.”
That sure made me laugh! But it also made me think. It’s true that I rarely spank. I feel spanking is appropriate in only certain circumstances – and never when I’m angry or upset. “Discipline” should not be punishment, and acting from a place of anger usually results in punishment rather than true discipline.
And, yes, I was irritated about my desk. When I called Dietrick into the office to deal with the mess, he was a little worried that I might spank him. But, instead I simply made him clean up the mess before he could do anything else that evening and I told him that “Mommy was not happy that her desk was so messy. You are not allowed to make a mess on Mommy’s desk.” It took a while for him to clean up since he is a typical, active, distracted boy. But, with plenty of follow up, teaching and encouragement, it was finally clean enough so I could praise him for a job well done and thank him for cleaning up his mess.
Why do I tell this story? It is a perfect example of my parenting style. My goal as a parent is to nurture with love. Kids are with us for such a short time and I want to do all in my power to prepare them for life as an adult while nurturing a relationship with my children to develop trust and love between us. I will never be a “perfect” parent. But, I can be a loving parent who always makes the effort to understand my child’s needs and to help them develop into loving, responsible adults.
I also realized two things from this experience. First, kids develop opinions of their parents much earlier than I realized (or remember). Second, my relationship with my children will develop into something different than the relationship I had with my dad – and that it may be even better. I had a great relationship with my dad and I have always hoped that I could mirror that kind of loving, nurturing, supporting role for my kids. It is incredibly exciting to see my kids growing and experiencing a special bond with them that is so sweet and loving. There are few things better in life than the unsolicited hug and kiss or the unsolicited “I love you Mommy” from your kids. It fills me with such joy to know that my children know they are loved, know they can trust me to always look out for their best interests, and that they love to be with me as a result.
Parenting sure is an adventure! And I love every minute of it. 🙂