“Stop. You can have an opinion but you cannot yell.” I found these words smoothly rolling off my tongue, trying to reason with an irrate four year old.
He stomped off to his room, attempting to punish me by denying me the privilege of his presence.
Those words reverberated through me, hanging in the air. Moments like this are few and far between, but every now and then you have a moment of insight as a parent.
I am a young mother- not yet in my thirties- but I was raised fairly ‘old school’. Very strict, unforgiving, and absolutely no room for conversation or understanding between parent and child.
Punishments were handed down based on assumptions or emotions. Respect was demanded but not returned. Never question, just follow the status quo.
I was a child and I was powerless, just as my children are powerless in our household now. But even though they do not run the show here, why should they be made to feel less than?
So yes, children should listen and behave. But they should also have a voice and the freedom to question this world.
Marshall was upset that I redirected him. He is a person and should be allowed to feel emotions as a human being. He can be mad about it, but he must be respectful in doing so.
“You can have an opinion but you cannot yell.”
It seems like so many people think that discipline and parenting has to be black and white. It has to be extremes: either the child isn’t allowed to express themselves, must be seen and not heard. Or the child is disrespectful and self-involved.
Like the majority of life, though, I reside in the grey. Trying my best to balance freedom and discipline; to raise children that are well mannered and respectful yet can think for themselves.
I want my children to respect me, just as generations of parents before me. The difference is I want them to want to respect me. I want to earn that, and I will do everything I can to allow them to earn my respect as well.
Children deserve to have a voice (within reason), and I believe the best way to teach them to respect others is to respect them.
After a brief period in his room, Marshall emerged. I didn’t say anything, instead wanting to see if he would do the right thing on his own. He walked over to his sister and apologized for wronging her, kissing her head gently. I pretended not to be watching. Then he approached me, tugging on the hem of my shirt and ever so quietly he spoke “I’m sorry for yelling mom.”
Maybe, just maybe, living in the grey is working for me.