I grew up in a home with set behavioral expectations and fairly consistent punishments for offenses. I spent many post-smart-mouth-remark bedroom quarantines brooding and vowing to discipline my future children completely differently. Never would I have a child who would sit in her room staring daggers into her parents' souls. Not my child. No, I'd be my child's best friend and never turn her against me!
As fate would have it, that wasn't completely unrealistic. Brooding preteen removed from this equation, of course--I'm not still holding onto any resentful thoughts toward my parents because I turned out pretty okay and have a strong sense of right vs. wrong. I have still retained my strong will, and I still speak my mind, though I kinda-sorta have a grasp on when to bite my tongue and when to speak up a little better than I had as a kid. (Hey, I said "kinda-sorta," right? I didn't claim to be an expert, HAHA!)
I've found myself in the role of a single parent, and I serve as both my daughter's sense of comfort and her reinforced conscience/disciplinarian. It's important for me to instill in my daughter a sense of right and wrong. But, it's even more important for me to be her friend through it all. I know a lot of people disagree with this stance, as is evident in the endless discipline advice I get from friends, family, and acquaintances alike.
(Seriously, guys, stop giving me advice. About anything. About everything. Especially about my child. I hate it. I would ask if I wanted it. I don't. Frankly, I'm sick of repeating myself on this front, too. Just stahp.)
Truth is, I know what I'm doing. My daughter doesn't have another parent to run to for comfort. Siblings either. She has me. I have to think very carefully about discipline, or I risk damaging the most secure human relationship my daughter has on this earth. Our trust and teamwork means absolutely everything and is our core mother-daughter value. I intend to never jeopardize that bond.
Someone once suggested to me that I fix my daughter's slower-than-mine pace and sense of time when we're getting ready for school and work in the mornings by locking her outside of the house in anything she could manage to clothe herself in in 5 minutes.
Let me be very clear: NEVER would I subject my child to such brutal humiliation. Discipline by humiliation is completely out of the question. I would absolutely risk every bit of trust she has in me to take care of her and help her through our differences if I made her feel humiliated, especially by something internalized and natural over which she has very little control.
Discipline by physical harm is completely out of the question, too. Discipline by silent treatment: no. Discipline by slave-style chores: no. Discipline by removing basic needs like a meal, clean and prepped clothing in the morning, etc...never ever.
I have never once laid a hand on my child, and I never intend to. I have never once purposely added the burden of shame to my child, and I don't plan to start now.
Discipline by words is plenty. Discipline by very small punishment (timeout or a prompted sincere apology) is enough.
As an only child (yes, she has a half-sister, but she lives as an only child in actual lifestyle articulation), and especially as the only child in a single-parent home, my daughter is critically sensitive to how I perceive her. If there is tension in our relationship, we both feel it. If Kimmy has even the slightest sense that I am disappointed in her actions, she is devastated. Absolutely shattered and torn to pieces.
This morning when I dropped her off at school, I learned that Kimmy had had 2 timeouts at school yesterday for sassy behavior to her teacher upon being corrected on something. While I deeply appreciate her strong will and ability to speak up for herself, there is a time and a place for such behavior, and it is not at school to her preschool teachers, whose judgment I trust. (When she's older and has a difference of opinion or fact with a teacher, then we'll talk. I remember the first time I corrected a teacher and was absolutely right in so doing...in 2nd grade.)
As her teacher was telling me what happened, Kimmy's entire posture changed. Her shoulders sunk. She turned her face from me. Huge crocodile tears welled up in her eyes instantly, and she bit her bottom lip. She was sobbing 15 seconds in. When I hugged her as I was leaving, she didn't want to let go. The thought of me being disappointed in her is just about too much for her to bear, and this is a consistent observation. That feeling is so shameful to her that just by her knowing I could potentially think badly of her, she wouldn't dare repeat a bad behavior.
We discuss bad behavior. We apologize when we get snippy or loud-mouthed with each other. I apologize constantly for getting impatient and raising my voice. I hold my daughter's hand. I tell her I love her. I hug her. I kiss her goodnight and good morning and goodbye for the day. I give leniency when leniency is due and can deepen our trust in each other. We forgive. We forget. We grow together.
This works for us. This process isn't broken. There is nothing to be fixed. Kimmy behaves exceptionally well for a child her age. She has a good heart and tries her hardest to make right decisions all the time. Best of all, she trusts me. She knows she can always come to her mother for any reason under the sun. She knows that I value her honesty. Some kids turn into snakes at age 4, but my daughter rarely even utters a lie. I intrinsically know that I am raising my daughter right. I'm not looking for a parenting overhaul.
So, please, leave me alone to discipline my child in the way that's best for her, for us, for our household, for our relationship. It's not your business. If there comes a time when I need to adjust, trust that I'm a grown-ass woman and can manage to do so just fine all on my own.
Kimmy and Mommy's house is peaceful, healthy, and happy. Is yours? #checkyourself