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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Following Through

One of my primary principles as a parent is the concept of follow-through. Namely, if I verbalize a course of action to my children, I have to follow it through.*

In practical terms, this means I have to very cognizant of when and where I draw the line. Because I'm lazy. I'm not going to tell people y is a result of x if I'm not fully willing to do y.

Two recent examples:

The Necklace

We were returning from a birthday party recently - remember Cinderella? - and Hannah struck Hazel with a mardi-gras-like necklace. It hurt Hazel, she cried, and I asked Hannah to give me the necklace. Hannah declined, at increasingly insistent and ear-shattering rates, and eventually I told her that if she did not give me the necklace I would pull over, take it from her, and throw it away.

She decided this would be a good time to test me, just to make sure I could really be there for her, and indeed, I could. "Next time we're at that trash can," she sobbed, "I'm going to reach in and get my necklace back!"

The Popsicle
I got some really cool popsicle makers at Crate and Barrel recently, and the girls made OJ popsicles. After dinner the other night, they were each enjoying one, and Hannah was making loud sucking noises with hers. I ignored it, but it bothered Jesse, and he asked her to stop. I suggested that if she wanted to continue making the noises, she could do so outside, but if she chose to stay at the table she would need to cease and desist.

The noises grew louder and slurpier. I reiterated the options. SLURP SLURP.

I then pointed out that since she was choosing to stay inside AND slurp, I would choose to throw away the popsicle, or she could still choose to go outside. Again, she wanted to know if I really, really meant it.

I did, and I did, and the sobbing was heart-wrenching. Full out, on the floor, fist-pounding sobs. Until I invited her to ride around the block with me - then she perked right up, and off we went. We had a great time - she rode her bike, I walked, for a full mile, and she chattered away the entire time.

Many times, I will decide up front that the issue is not one I want to push, and I really do think that's key. But when I decide to stand my ground, I can see how it truly does show my children that they are loved, and are protected and safe. Knowing that I will create boundaries that are important to me, and that I will honor them, seems to me to be such an important part of being a parent and caring for your children.

Which isn't to say that I haven't often regretted words or actions, immediately or upon consideration. I wanted to note these two examples as a reminder to myself, really, of the benefits of following through, for those times when I simply don't have the courage/energy to do so.

So - what do you think? What are your own Must Do's?

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* I do have and have used, on some rare occasions, an Out. An, "I have thought about it, and I don't think I made the best decision, and so I Am Going To Change My Mind," kind of an out. It works well, when needed and properly executed.

2 comments:

Angela said...

I agree. Coming from another lazy mother it is difficult to follow through, but I truly believe the rewards will be evident when the children are older. I know many people who didn't have that kind of parental support and it is evident because they cannot as adults set boundaries for themselves (i.e. my mother in law :)). Having said that, I hate those days where all you seem to be doing is setting boundaries and following through. UGH - sometimes it makes you feel like such an ogre.

Lisa said...

Following through is of paramount importance. No argument. But ya know what is weird? I saw Ani's Live @ Carnegie Hall CD at Target! On sale for $10! Sadly, my entertainment budget stands at zero at the moment, so I had to pass. But hey, if ya'll don't already have it, go help her totally sell out to the megacorp.