Over the weekend I accidentally made my daughter cry. It was a battle over an ice-block and it didn’t end well. But after reading this article, I’m feeling okay with how I behaved.
It’s not that I enjoy making my kids’ sad – I hate seeing them upset. But I’ve come to realise that it’s not my job to make them happy!
Rather, it’s my job to set them up with the right tools and resources to create their own happiness.
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This is a subtle but really, really important difference and it has a significance that far too many parents don’t seem to understand.
Victoria Prooday, the author of the aforementioned article, talks about the fact that it is leading to us, as parents, giving our kids too much: too much patience, too much attention, too much entertainment, too much of everything.
As a result they’re not learning resilience, tolerance, resourcefulness, creativity and a whole bunch of other important qualities that are essential for a healthy and fulfilling life.
“We have all the greatest intention in mind to make our children happy,” Victoria says, “but unfortunately, we make them happy at the moment but miserable in a long term.”
I wholeheartedly agree – which brings me back to the ice-block. It was a characteristically warm and beautiful winter day on the Gold Coast yesterday, so we took our kids to the park for a playdate.
At the end, everyone had ice-blocks. They could choose from lemonade or raspberry. My daughter chose raspberry and then, after realising her best friend had chosen lemonade, changed her mind.
But it was too late – the ice-cream lady had moved on to other customers. So I stood my ground and told her it was the red ice-block or no ice-block. Queue shit-fit that lasted for 15 minutes.
I was not backing down; neither was she. I ate most of the icy treat, until she calmed down enough to apologise and eat the last few bites. Later, my friend said to me, “You’re a stronger mum than me; I would have just lined up again and swapped it for her.”
Perhaps doing that, we would have avoided the tantrum.
But I think by standing my ground, she learnt that she can’t always have what she wants. That sometimes, she has to compromise. And that mum will follow through on consequences (by eating her ice-block!) if she cracks a huge tantrum over nothing.
Long-term gain for short-term pain? I can only hope…
What would you have done?