I hate confrontations. I’m one of those people who avoid them like the plague. I go the other way much like turning my cart from the produce aisle and heading to the bakery instead. I’m not super great at expressing how I feel even when I’m happy, so sharing negative feelings when I feel I’ve been wronged or that I’ve wronged someone just isn’t easy.
Luke and I have been married for almost five and a half years and I still struggle when it comes to communicating with him. Instead of telling him in the moment, or even that same day, when I feel there’s a problem, I’ll have the conversation in my head. I’ll imagine what I would say, and then I’ll imagine his response. It should come as no surprise that often times he becomes an even bigger jerk in my mind’s eye and my anger is fueled. Or, in my head, I confess something I’ve done wrong and he stops loving me or something ridiculous like that.
I’ve come a long way since Luke and I got married and I pray I only get better when dealing with confrontations with him. Now, though, I’m experiencing the same avoidance tactics with my daughter.
Lillian is 2 and there’s a million monikers associated with that age, The most common being “the terrible twos.” Now, in reality, Lillian isn’t so bad. If you compared her tantrums to those of most two-year olds, I’m sure some parents would love to trade.
But, for me, it’s difficult.
They’re almost always over something innocuous. For example, it’s 10am and Lillian has decided that’s the perfect time for a pouch of fruit snacks. She comes up to me and says, “Mom? Snack please?” Then her brother gets into the act and comes up to me. “Naaaaa,” he says which is how he says snack. I tell them both no.
My little angel suddenly begins screaming and slamming her first into the pantry door where the fruit snacks are kept. ‘Snack Mom! Snack!” she screams.
Here’s where I confess. Most likely… I’ll give in and give them to her.
It’s not only about fruit snacks though. It’s about a myriad of other things she wants to do where I don’t think it’s a good idea. She’ll scream, I’ll tell her no, we’ll go a few rounds, and then I’ll give in.
I’ve been coming to grips with this reality over the last couple weeks and have been reminded of something.
I am the parent.
I make the rules.
But I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like her screaming and throwing a fit. I feel guilty because I’m not giving my daughter what she wants. Mommy guilt is a very real, almost tangible entity that hangs out on our couch. Mommy guilt makes me give in because I feel bad I didn’t get to spend as much time with her in the first few months she was one because I was taking care of her brother. Mommy guilt makes me give in to Levi because I feel bad that he didn’t receive the same one on one attention that Lillian did.
Mommy guilt + Confrontation avoidance = Pansy Parent
The bad news is that it’s sadly become a habit that I have to break. The good news is that I recognize it and earnestly desire to change it.
I want a daughter I can, at a later date, logically converse with about the pros and cons of a situation. I want a son who respects me and my decisions, even if he disagrees, because he trusts that I know best. I want children that I can openly talk to regardless of the state of the situation. I also don’t want kids who think they can get everything they want if they scream loud enough.
So I’m instituting a new plan. It’s the “no” plan. It means if my children ask to do something, or ask for something, and I don’t think it’s a good idea, I tell them no and then I stand by it. Regardless of how much they scream. Regardless of their flailing limbs on the floor. Regardless of the mommy guilt and the urgent desire to just give in because I don’t want to have a confrontation, I’m going to stand my ground.
Rest assured, I do discipline my children and we do impart consequences to their actions. My kids don’t always run the roost. But I see a fatal flaw in my parenting and I wanna kick it to the curb before things get worse. “Now” is always a great time to put forth a new plan of action to make things better. It’s going to be difficult and anxiety inducing, and I’ll probably go to bed some nights thinking my kids hate me.
In the end, though, I know what I’m doing is right. I know I’m making positive changes for the future of mine and my children’s relationship. I just wanted to share that with all of you in case there’s something you’re struggling with too. I’ll let you know how it goes.