Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Keeping your Parent Power

Dear Other Mom at Taco Bell,
I wish I could have come up to you tonight and told you something. Of course, a stranger coming up to you at Taco Bell offering unsolicited parenting advice would have been, like, the weirdest thing ever, so of course I didn't. But I wanted to.

Believe me when I say I'm not a perfect parent myself. Exhibit A? I was feeding my children Taco Bell for dinner. However, I so wanted to somehow convey to you the parenting power of doing what you say you're going to do. Guess what? Even the first time you told your kid that you were going to leave Taco Bell if he didn't sit back down at the table, I didn't believe you. And neither did your kid. If you're going threaten a consequence, you gotta be willing to follow through.

Listen, I have BEEN there. Any time you are at Taco Bell for dinner on a weeknight, with your two little kids, pregnant, and with no significant other around to help, it's a dire situation. Your stress was written all over your face, and I have felt that. On nights like that, the Taco Bell dinner is more than crappy Mexican food and a fountain soda. It is a lifeline to sanity. On nights like that, my child could have literally been setting fire to the Taco Bell, and I wouldn't have gotten up and left. "Don't mind him," I would have told the cashier, "I'll deal with him in a second. Just give me my &$%*# crunchy tacos so I don't have to cook anything!"

So..... you're NOT going to leave Taco Bell if your kid gets up from the table. I know that, you know that, and your kid knows that. So why threaten it? The first time was doubtful - by the eighth or ninth threat, it was actually laughable. Never threaten your kid with something that is so painful to you that you're going to be reluctant to follow through. If you aren't going to leave Taco Bell (and girl, I don't blame you), then use a different consequence, one that inconveniences your child more than it inconveniences you.

You are the authority, you have the power, you are the momma. And your kids have to believe that. They have to know that if you tell them there's a consequence for their behavior, that there will BE one. Otherwise, to be blunt, your efforts at discipline are just a joke to them. Why would they do what you say if they know you don't mean it? So pick a consequence that's gonna hurt them more than it hurts you, think twice before you say it, and if you say it, you gotta mean it. And, in the meantime, make sure you get a refill on that soda, because if anything's going to save your sanity, it's a Dr. Pepper.

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