Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Parenting by the seat of my pants

Sometimes I have no idea what I am doing. I find myself up to my elbows in dishwater, scrubbing last night's pots and pans while Ben is pitching a fit behind me because he wants another graham cracker. I am trying to explain that lunch is in 10 minutes and he doesn't need another snack but am pretty sure he can't hear me over his own wails of the injustice of it all. Right when I start wondering if I should just give in and give him another cracker, I start to think "What would Super Nanny say?" Yes, it's true. I defer to Jo Frost. Or the version of her in my head, anyway. I can just imagine her giving me a disapproving look for reinforcing my toddler's bad behavior. So I keep on scrubbing.

Most of what I know of parenting, I have learned from books, blogs, my pediatrician and instinct. (Okay, and maybe some Super Nanny episodes.) I didn't have what some would call an ideal childhood and so I don't have a lot of behavior to model myself after. Unfortunately, this leaves me with a lot of insecurity and anxiety about knowing whether I am doing the right thing in many situations.

For example, when we are getting ready to go outside and he starts pitching a fit on the floor because "Dear God, Woman! I need to go out right this minute and not 10 minutes from now! How dare you make me wait for you to put on shoes!" do we still go out? Or is that reinforcing naughty behavior? Also, if you find the temper tantrum to be hilarious, is it incredibly damaging to let out a huge guffaw or better to just hide your smile behind your magazine? When your child refuses to eat ANYTHING on his plate, is it okay to send him to bed hungry? Do you let him see you cry while you are doing it?

These are just some of the moral dilemmas that I face while parenting my two year old. The thing is, no matter how many episodes of Super Nanny I watch, or how many books I read, I often still feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants and going mainly on my instincts. Because in the end, it all comes down to what I can live with and what feels right for our family and our house. All I can do is pray for guidance and hope we are making good choices so that one day, our son will be able to look back to his childhood as an example when parenting his own children. Preferably as an example of what to do rather than what not to do.

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