While tucking my son into bed tonight I was flooded by grief and joy simultaneously. He is eight, so I am used to this. Every time he goes and grows up he leaves me with this memory of the younger boy he left behind that day, vanishing in my arms as I reach down to kiss him goodbye. Tonight is different though. Tonight, perhaps I am the one who grew up a little bit too. It’s amazing what a call from school can do.
I don’t have the most fantastic relationship with my older sister. Now that I’m having children of my own, I need to address the personal issues I have with sibling dynamics and start to make decisions as to how I would deal with such situations as a parent.
Imaginary friends, no time outs, and two more ways we’re compassionately disciplining our preschooler
So here’s the thing about discipline in our house: up until recently, we had no idea what to do about it. We went through a flirtation with time-outs for a while — we had a special chair that was in a special spot, and whenever it seemed appropriate, we followed through with asking/making our then-toddler sit in time out. It never felt totally “right” but it didn’t feel wrong, and it was better than other alternatives we knew of at the time.
I love my little man. He’s seven, and while not mine by birth, he sure as hell is mine by love. The four of us parents, (mom, step dad, dad, and me — step mom) get along pretty well, and while we disagree on some things, we try to compromise and present a united front. Usually, this isn’t too hard — he’s a good kid, hardly ever misbehaves, and for the most part a good talk will prevent any major infractions of the rules. That is, it was easy until yesterday.
As people, we get one body, and, as a feminist, it is damn important to me to claim total ownership of mine. The best thing that I can ever do for my children is to give them autonomy over themselves. I want my daughter especially — who came into a world that legally accepts her body has her own but sends messages all the time that reject that truth — to fill out her skin with a personal spirit that is impermeable.
In our family we are firmly anti-spanking, but we realize that many of our friends and family members are not. We respect that they’re making decisions that work best for their families, but I don’t want my son to see his friends or family members being spanked.
In real life, how often do we do something (or not do something) simply because someone told us to (or not to)? Not that often, really. And yet adults assume that children should do things (or not do things) simply “because I said so.” I don’t do that. Instead I engage in what I call “the art of persuasion.”
I have some couple friends who I adore, cannot stand as parents. I still see both of them all the time, but “family hangouts” almost never happen even though they live nearby and all our kids are the same age. Compared to my parenting style, my friends are neurotic and over-controlling with their kids, and it makes me anxious and exhausted. Sometimes they’ll even try to keep MY kids from doing shit I’m totally fine with, just because it makes them nervous.