It’s interesting when you stop and actually think about what you do for a minute. Thinking about thinking – this is one of those things that sets humans apart from all other species. But do you think we use this skill as well as we can with our daily parenting duties? Nope, probably not. I’ll let you in on the latest observations inside myself.
This afternoon one of my daughters was watching TV. One of my thoughts was, “Well, she’s peaceful and she’s in the middle of her show. Maybe the laundry can wait. Might be whiny if I try to shut off her show now.” Then another thought came through – “She’s watched two separate times already and that’s plenty. Doesn’t really matter if I interrupt her anyway. She needs to get on that laundry now”.
So where do you think the first thought came from, my personal feelings or my personal principles? Yep, that was all feeling. I was thinking about avoiding emotional upset even though I had something for her to do. The next thought was from the completely opposite direction. Quick compliance with respect because I am the parent.
Before I go on, I just want to linger here a little longer. I didn’t know this was going to be my post topic for today, so this little internal dialogue was just as unknown to me as it is to you. How often do you go with the first type of thought when you parent? Do you parent more out of feeling a lot of times? Or do you parent more out of principal with less consideration for their emotional reactions?
These are good questions to ask, which is why I’m writing this now. I had to ask myself, “What was I doing? What direction was I going to take this?” I think some compassion and consideration is important, but more than anything I try to parent from my principles.
Many times I have said or done something that I knew my girls weren’t going to like but it was the right call. And if it’s not critical, I try to be considerate of a boring chore being done with some music or TV. I For example, if they can get their laundry folded in front of the TV, I let them do it. But if I see them goofing off or staring at the TV with no folding, I’ll shut it off. I’ve had to do that plenty of times, and they usually get going pretty quickly after that.
On the other hand, we’ve had to completely shut down morning TV time before school because it was a constant hinderance no matter how much consideration or discipline I used with it. It didn’t work so we cut it out. The kids were upset at first, but they have grown used to it and don’t expect it anymore.
Parenting mostly out of emotion is a good way to become a lenient passive parent. But also, parenting with almost no consideration of your child’s emotions can create a distant parent-child relationship. It’s that double thought like I had that will pop into your mind countless times over the years. What’s the right balance for this situation right now?
So in the end, I did tell my daughter to get going on her laundry right at that moment. She brought it up and did it quickly with TV still on. I got a sigh, but no refusal from her. Turns out she didn’t have too much in the laundry basket anyway, but I appreciated her quickness to finish the task. I had already told her to expect some chores today and that the TV would not be on that much. Seems like she got the message and I made the right call today.