I disappointed myself as a parent the other night. I was a total wimp. We had a fun (and cheap) family night planned with my sister and her family. The kids had earned free meals at an all you can eat pizza/pasta place and then we were invited to a free family night at the local iceskating venue.
On the way to drop the baby off at grandma’s, the kids got into a royal fight. All I remember was that there was hitting and screaming. They got a 1 and a 2 on the way there (3 strikes you’re out kind of thing) because they wouldn’t stop. When I came back out of the grandma’s house, they were out of their seatbelts, honking the car and fighting again. This time it had something to do with a basketball and punching was involved. They got an overdue 3.
Now this is where the wimpy parenting comes in. To me the right thing to do, would be to follow through on a natural consequence — which in this case would be to not let them go to dinner or iceskating. But I just couldn’t do it because of me. I wanted to go out to eat. I wanted to go iceskating for free. I wanted to see my sister and her family. I wanted to have a nice family night. Do you see how it was all about what I wanted and not what was best for the children in the long run? As you can see from our camera phone picture, we ended up going anyway.
I justified my lack of consequences that night by grounding them from friends the next day, but it was just a token act to appease my guilt.
This story isn’t that unusual. I think we wimp out a lot as parents. We want our kids’ to like us, we don’t want to give up our plans, we don’t want to hear the tantrum, or we want to avoid conflict. In the end, we sacrifice what is best or good for our children’s overall character development for what is easiest or most convenient for us at the time.
I better go grow some… parenting muscles.