While reading this article, The "My First Child" Parenting Style Ruined My Playdates (a pretty good one, I think), and it got me remembering something that happened several weeks ago. We were at my mom's with our son and his cousin, Holli. She's two and going through those terrible times, however, she's also picked up bullying from another cousin, therefore she's a bit of a bully. Her mother does try to curb this behavior; teaching her that it's wrong to be mean to other kids and why one should share, and all that. Her daughter is defiant--a lot like her dad--but mommy is stubborn and determined, even though she's often undermined.
But my mom....oh, dear. That grandparent syndrome where they seem to forget how to parent, that thing pops up. Whenever Holli was deliberately mean to Lycan--smacking, hitting, snatching toys, and so on--my mom would make excuses for her. The most popular being, "She doesn't know what she's doing", "She doesn't understand", and "She didn't do it on purpose".
It was an accident. Apparently we were watching two different scenes, because I didn't see an accident. I saw Holli get mad and deliberately hit my son in the head with plastic drumstick, and then laugh about it when he started crying. I don't know what the hell she saw, but Holli's mom saw the same scene as me.
By the Gods, mom. She got upset with Holli's mom when she disciplined her! How is a child supposed to know wrong from right if someone keeps making excuses for them? Holli's mom was right in disciplining her and letting her know she did something wrong and why it was bad. Grandma making excuses is counter productive. And personally I don't like seeing my baby being bullied, nor do I want him to pick up those behaviors! And I really don't like it when Grandma pretty much allows bad behavior to go on between the kids!
My mom can be so naive at times. To her, when a neutered male dog starts humping, they don't know what they're doing. She doesn't understand what instinct is, and she refuses to listen to reason. To scientific proof. To her, it's all nonsense. And apparently that same logic is applied to children. Who cares about teaching them right from wrong, because they're too young to understand it right now anyway! Just let them be kids! Everything's an accident! Parents need to stop being so mean to their kids!
Hey, Grams, how about you stop making excuses for them? You didn't with your own kids, why are you doing it with your grandkids? And stop criticizing the parents for how they parent, yeah? It's like training pets, you need to be consistent in order for them to understand. There were times when it didn't seem like Lycan was ever going to understand to leave the DVDs and CDs alone, but he did eventually. Yeah, he still touches and prods and ignores us sometimes, but he's testing his boundaries! It's not a hopeless situation, even though it may feel like it sometimes (especially lately concerning the trash can, the laptop power cord, the laptop itself, or the PS3 power button), eventually, with patience and consistency, he'll learn the boundaries and he'll leave them alone.
The journey of a parent isn't easy, especially when others undermine your parenting. ESPECIALLY when they're family. Not to mention, one of them is your own mom, who raised you in kind of a strict fashion. Like listen, it'd be great if all kids were polite and kind to each other; hell, it'd be nice if adults were like that....but they're not. That's not how the world works; I don't think you'll be doing your child any favors by shielding them from those types of kids. Eventually, they're going to come in contact with them, be it at school, at the park, or later on in life as an adult. For me, it's important to raise my child to be aware of these sorts of kids and people, and to know how to deal with them. I'm not planning on raising doormats--hopefully I will raise capable, confident adults.
Right now, it's frustrating running into those types of parents and kids. My son loves other kids. Loves them. We took him to the park the other day and he just wanted to play with them; but given their age group, they ran away from the baby; but they were having fun. They weren't being mean. They were older, running, climbing, and so on. Kids will be kids. As a parent, I think it's important to remember how you were as a kid. Eventually, Lycan focused on doing his own thing and he had fun, too. However, there two two boys who really minded their mom. They avoided Lycan, they didn't yell or get remotely close to Lycan unless it was by accident. Whereas the others kids were amped up and mom's voice was kind of lost....until she started to raise it.
Then he met the baby from the other day, who was a bit of a bully. Lycan didn't like that kid that much, and actually avoided him a lot of the time. In that case, the mom was trying to be more disciplinary, but her boyfriend was undermining her. And she didn't seem to really know how to handle the interactions between her son and mine, whereas when Lycan showed his inexperience of sharing, I was more hands on. But by the time her son smacked mine in the face with a toy, she had been worn down by her boyfriend, she didn't try to teach her son that what he did was wrong.
I know that I keep saying that I don't want my kid around a bully or a child who's been excused of their actions, but it's going to happen. I don't want my son to pick up those behaviors, but he still might; and I'll be there to teach him why it's wrong. I won't be making excuses for my son's behavior. It won't happen over night, I know that, but working with him is a start to raising a capable and confident child....I hope.
It's a learning experience, for sure. For me, in getting a glimpse of how others have parented/ing, of how they react when they've essentially been bullied, in how their children react, and how my own kid acts. There's so many different styles out there, from the annoying excuse maker to the tiger mom. It's about finding your place among them, which I don't think happens with a snap of the fingers.
When faced with adversity, it's important to remember your goals. Who do you want to (try to) raise? Keep it in mind, but don't be afraid to explore and try new methods when it seems like nothing's working. Most importantly, don't allow others to make your feel inadequate as a parent. Don't let em pressure you to do things or allow things to happen to your kids. If you're not comfortable with the crowd your toddler is in, take em out of that situation. If you don't like how someone is talking to you, tell them off and/or remove yourself and/or child from the situation.
I know Holli's mom is frustrated with the grandparents, I sure am. It's frustrating, but it drives me more to fight certain behaviors, and to instill others, while still letting my kid be a kid. He's not a wild animal, he has a brain, he's smart, he can be taught. Nothing worth doing is easy, right?