I have written this blog because I frequently read the blog of a woman who is the mother of a 2-year-old and an infant, she is also a teacher by trade. I understand and respect that she has the right to write what ever she wishes and there is no requirement for me to read what she writes. That said, I am a little bit concerned about the things she writes because many of my friends and acquaintances read her blog, talk to her for advice, and encourage her to continue writing about her struggles so that they don’t feel alone in their own struggles. Some of them feel that if she, who is educated in child development, struggles, then what will they be up against. I have also heard a few mothers talking about how her child has negatively impacted their children, and how this bloggers behavior has impacted themselves and their view of the association in which they are all united. This blog is not expressing their opinions, it is expressing my own.
She often writes things like:
“The toddler tantrums, the throwing of things, the hitting, the biting…I know it’s all part of (my child) learning and testing his boundaries…some days, nothing works. It sure doesn’t help that (my child) is not really talking yet. Truthfully, I think that a lot of his “bad behaviour” is due to his inability to communicate effectively verbally yet. I am holding onto hope that when he does start talking that these outbursts will die down. But until then, I just have to deal with it. And really, it isn’t “bad behaviour.” I don’t want to call it that. To me, bad behaviour denotes acts that are done with the intention of doing wrong. Toddlers don’t really know the difference between right and wrong yet. They are still learning.And that means that they will make mistakes. Sometimes a lot of them. It also takes time. Sometimes more time than you want.”
This quote frustrates me because she seems to feel that the only way to communicate is verbally. She writes that his frustration is because he can’t talk, that might be part of it, but I suspect it is also to do with mom not slowing herself down enough to “listen” to what he is saying and helping him with prompts. She justifies tantrums, throwing, hitting and biting as acceptable behavior because he cannot speak her language. I am not saying her child is “bad” but these behaviors are definitely inappropriate in any situation. Toddlers don’t always understand that their behavior is inappropriate and they will make mistakes. It is our job as parents to teach our children at a very young age (before 1 year) to understand “no” and other words like “gentle”, “nice” and “stop”. If your child is hitting another child, biting another child, throwing objects or screaming on the floor of the grocery store, it is your responsibility as their parent to address it. They do understand “no, not nice” and “stop” when you kneel down to their level and say it firmly. It does take time, ONE time, and consistency in the parents behavior to be pre-emptive in diffusing situations before they occur. Is there a magical age the child will cross in which it will all just click and he will turn into a perfectly behaved angel? Some age in which everything you say makes perfect sense to them? I feel that is a pretty high expectation.
She writes: “Occasionally when we are out, (my child) will have a toddler tantrum or do one of the other multiple frustrating things that toddlers do (this is more likely if I have neglected to bring enough snacks!). Some people will look at him and I can tell they wonder about my parenting skills. I just breathe when I see this and remind myself that they clearly have no idea. Either their child hasn’t hit this stage yet, they only have one child, or they are (very) rare parents who were blessed with an “easy” toddler. They’ll see. Eventually, they will see. Whether it be in the next little while when their child hits that same stage, or when their child is a teenager and hits a different stage. They’ll see.”
This frustrates me because it sounds like the only way to control her child is with food “be good and I will reward you with treats”. Good behavior is an expectation, not an option. IF you choose to use rewards in your parenting, I feel that they should be used to reward behaviors or actions that are above and beyond the expectation. Teaching a child to control their own behavior rather than the parent controlling the child is much more effective. I do wonder about her parenting skills, and yes I am judging her, I openly admit to it! Why, you ask? Because her childs behavior directly affects the other children around her in a negative fashion. She is supporting his bullying behavior and that is harming other children both mentally and physically. I feel that to say that other parents have no idea is ridiculous and screams loudly of denial. Raising children is never an easy road to take. Having multiple children around the same age is even more difficult. When she says that those other parents who are working hard to teach their children empathy, restraint, self-control have no idea and that “they’ll see”…I just want to throw that back at her! When she is being called to the principals office twice a week, when parents are calling in to the organizations she participates in complaining about her lack of parenting, when her teenager is being picked up by the cops on a regular basis…she’ll see, ohhh yes, she will see. That her sons behavior is NOT acceptable under any circumstances and needs to be addressed in a consistent and firm manner.
She then writes: “Some people have told me that boys learn rough behaviour. I think those people have never had a son. Because I guarantee you that we never taught him it, and most of (his) friends are girls. I think (most) boys are just programmed to be a bit more rough and energetic. Seriously. It’s not a cop-out; it doesn’t mean parents don’t have to teach them when it’s appropriate, they do. But boys just seem to like to wrestle and be a little more rough than girls. So girl mamas, a little understanding please while I try to teach my son that most girls (and some boys) don’t like that kind of play. In return, I will understand when your girls become PMS-riddled teenagers.”
I feel that all children test rough behavior, they all want to wrestle, to fight and to stand up for themselves. These are life skills and need to be developed in a positive manner. Even if you feel that you did not teach your child to be aggressive in a negative fashion someone did, whether by not addressing inappropriate behavior or by showing aggressive behavior within the village. I also know from personal interactions that this woman has a pretty aggressive, in your face personality. That she feels she is always right, that people who choose to raise their children differently than she does should be looked down upon, that her opinion is the right one and her doctrine is to be followed. Boys are rough and energetic, but so are some girls. Some boys are also very quiet and reserved with regards to touch. Shoving the sexes into these boxes and stereotypes is very old-fashioned. Writing that nobody understands because they don’t have sons, I feel that is a ridiculous statement. I have a son, i find him to be challenging most days of the week, but I do not allow the behaviors that have been expressed both in her blog and by the people affected by them. Once again she is justifying his inappropriate behavior by telling the rest of the parents in the world that they obviously don’t know what she is going through. I call “Bull Shit” and ask that she set beyond denial for a moment.
She also writes: “Two is a hard age. I am told three is worse, but we aren’t there yet so I am just going to pretend they are lying to me for now. Because I can’t imagine it being any worse. (He) has just entered the “mine” and “no” phases, so add those phases to the regular pushing, hitting, yelling, etc phases that he is already in and you get the picture as to how my days often go.”
These, in my experience, are natural phases of both development and part of a child’s personality. I, as the paren,t NEED to address them. Being trained as a teacher should have prepared her to calmly teach things. If it didn’t she could probably try absorbing some of the many blogs she reads in a day, or maybe read fewer blogs and give her child more attention. He is 2 now, asking him if he wants you to hit him and how he would feel might be a good place to start. I feel that being an active parent is a life long learning experience. Every time I think I have figured out my child and they become predictable I just blink and no longer recognise my own child. If she can’t deal with the temper tantrums, hitting, biting and pushing now, man is she in trouble when she reaches the extreme independence mode that is coming her way.
Then:”…(he) finds it necessary to push and yell and hoard toys. A good part of it is due to the fact that this is his turf, he is learning how to share, and usually he doesn’t want to (and I would argue shouldn’t have to all the time…) Regardless, I hate when it happens (be it at home or out and about). I hate “the LOOK” that other adults (even other parents!) give me. That look makes me feel like a terrible parent–that my child is a menace and that I can’t control him. Well, I have news for you world. Children are not little adults. That’s right! They don’t come into the world with knowledge of societal norms. They have to learn these things. And it takes time. Sometimes, a lot of time. I think that a lot of people forget this.”
The other parents are not giving her “the LOOK” because her child is having difficulty sharing, they are giving her the look because they expect her to help him learn it. They expect her to approach her child and teach him to communicate. They expect her to get down to his level, help him reason, teach him not to grab, teach him to take turns. They are not judging him, they are judging her! They don’t expect her to “control” him, they expect her to step up and teach him self-control. They expect her to use the opportunities she is given to diffuse situations before they explode, to use the opportunities to teach. Children are not little adults, they are prone to out bursts of energy and emotion, there is nothing wrong with that, but when they step in the wrong direction it is important to help them re-direct, to use the opportunities that come along to teach the societal norms. Other mothers are giving HER “the LOOK” because she is not helping him to navigate and learn the social norm, this only creates insecurity in him! Here he is looking for some direction, doesn’t get the attention/direction from mom and therefore falls back on a behavior he know will FORCE the other child to understand how he feels. It does take time, but the more consistent she is as a parent in diffusing, addressing or removing her child the quicker these lessons are learned.
There was a situation a while back in which her son hurt several other children, the mothers of the other children brought their concerns to her and she shot these women down! There was a huge build up, several people’s feelings were hurt, several women were removed from the community in which they all belonged and I got to hear all about it again and again. In this particular situation she ignored her childs behavior, saying that there was nothing she could do. I am sorry, but if my child is injuring other people’s children I should probably pay attention, rather than continuing to sit in the women’s circle chatting and offering advice. If I can’t teach my child that making other children bleed is not appropriate behavior then maybe I should go home for that day and try again tomorrow. When the other mothers expressed their concern she should have been apologizing profusely and taking the privilege of playing with others away for that day. Instead she made these women feel like they were in the wrong for standing up for their children.
I have nothing against this woman on a personal level. When we are in the same group I don’t have any issues with her. I am a strong, confident and comfortable mother. I am willing to hear other people’s points of view and discuss alternative ways of doing things. But I would discourage my friends from taking advice from someone who feels a do nothing philosophy is the way to go. But that, of course, is MY opinion, and I have the right to write it.