Thursday, November 1, 2012

Respectful Parenting

Our nights have been pretty awful lately...  Perhaps due to a combination of his walking milestone and because he is ready for his next cognitive "leap" (the leap of sequences).

Bracing ourselves for the next 5 weeks...
He wakes so often throughout the night and he is half asleep and crying.  Sometimes even reaching out for me.  I offer the breast every time.  Sometimes he takes it, sometimes he doesn't.  I usually just hold him and shush until he calms but last night I actually talked to him and it seemed to help even more.  We are tired but I am so thankful I am not physically getting out of bed every time.  That would be complete torture!  He seems to be having nightmares or something which makes my heart ache for him.  I want him to always dream of wonderful things but you can't protect your children from everything all the time I suppose.

Speaking of protecting your children...  I witnessed a low mommy moment today.  There was a preschooler who had just gotten off of the mid-day bus as we were walking by on our morning walk and he would NOT get in the car. His mother was repeatedly yelling, "GET IN THE CAR!" but he just stood there with his arms crossed, refusing to obey.  What does his mother do?  She picks him up, belly in one hand, crotch in the other, swings back for momentum and proceeds to throw him into the backseat of her car and slam the door behind him.  She took a minute before getting into the car herself to look around to see if anyone was watching, which is where she found me standing there frozen in disbelief at what I had just witnessed.  She quickly got in her car and sped around the corner.

A lot of things flew through my mind.
- Was that child abuse?  Should I call the police?
- I have no room to judge, I have never been the mother of an obstinate preschooler
- I don't know what her current life circumstances are.
- I don't know what kind of day she has had.
- I don't know the child, perhaps he is always terribly behaved and disrespectful
- I don't care about any of the above, how could she treat her child like that?!?  Poor, poor baby...

As a teacher, my main rule for discipline was, "How would I handle this if his/her parents were standing in the room?"  I also had the ability to remind myself, this is not personal, they are not mine, they will not be at home with me tonight.  But... what if you are the parent?  Having a child with you 24/7 is no joke.  If you are sick, tired, annoyed, or simply have to pee there are no sick days, lunch breaks or bathroom breaks.  It can be difficult and I am sure that as a child gets older and gains more and more free will, I can imagine that it only becomes that much more difficult.

As I pushed my sweet baby back home, the scene that I had witnessed with the mother throwing her child into the backseat weighed really heavily on my mind.  I called David to talk it out and told him that I wonder if maybe I was witnessing part of a vicious cycle.  Did the child not obey his mother just because he was a "bad" kid?  Or was the child the product of a one way relationship where he is not respected but is expected to respect?  A sort of "Do as I say, not as I do" scenario.  The thing is, no one can deny that children learn best from what is modeled for them. David and I plan to use a model of positive/respectful parenting.  This is not to be confused with permissive parenting.  Ayden will have limits and we will tell him no, after heavily weighing the outcome and whether or not we are willing to "fight the fight" and actually follow through.  We just plan to respect him as an individual, hear his voice and be available to him in every way that we can.  We are hoping that modeling this sort of caring and kind nature will in turn mold him into a caring and kind individual.  For example, if we want him to tell us please and thank you, we will first tell him please and thank you.  We would like to think that a child raised under this parenting model will want to get in the car when we ask, because we asked and it is the right thing to do.

Now, before you laugh or scoff or think that we feel we will be perfect, we know good and well that this won't always work.  We will fail at setting the right example and Ayden won't always be cooperative but I do know that we will always go back and make it right.  I hope that when we have moments during which we are too exhausted to make the right parenting choices, we can use those as teaching moments and show that its ok to mess up as long as you acknowledge your mistakes and seek forgiveness.  It is always good to set goals to work towards and we feel that if we are always working towards positivity and kindness, we will always be able to find our way back to what is right.

I spent the rest of the day really cherishing the way things are right now.  It is so easy to get a baby to do what you want, at least compared to an older child.  We had a really wonderful day together and I loved, hugged and rocked my sweet baby as much as I could today.

We had story time and went to see the ducks afterward.  They kept chasing each other and Ayden was pretty mesmerized.

Then we met up with a friend of mine and her son at the mall.  Ayden found Brown Bear in the play area, and again, found himself mesmerized...

"You are bigger than I imagined..."
He also really loved crawling around and watching all of the big kids play.  We can always tell that he's taking notes and wants to be a big kid too!

Last on our agenda for the day was his 9 month well baby check up.

26.5" long (1st percentile) and 15.25 pounds (also 1st percentile)  
He is our mighty tyke and we asked his doctor if we need to be concerned about his size at all.  His answer was no because he is still growing on a curve, be it a small one, and that we are also smaller so that is to be expected.  He said that he wouldn't mind seeing a bit more chub on him so he advised that we up his protein intake at meals.  So bring on the meat!  Other than that, his doctor said he's "just perfect" which any parent loves to hear!  Ayden did much better overall during the appointment. He had a female nurse which made him more comfortable since he loves to flirt with the ladies everywhere we go.  He only cried on the scale and right after his shot.  He got DTap booster only this time and stopped crying as soon as he was in my arms.  He even gave the nurse one more smile before she left the room. He fell asleep during the car ride home and slept the whole way.  The rest of the night went well and though I say this every time, we are hoping that getting the vaccine helps him sleep well tonight!

All is well after our 9 month checkup!


  1. I would never condone a mother literally "throwing" her child into a car, that seems a little rough, but I have so been there Sarah. I love my child more than life itself, I would give my life for her. That doesn't mean I don't get frustrated and yell. I'm a human being, I wish I reacted perfectly all the time, but I don't. I don't think this makes me a bad person or parent. I don't think my child disobeys because I"m a bad parent, or lead with bad examples. I'm not going to lie, I really didn't enjoy reading this post. It really rubbed me the wrong way.

    1. Jennie! I have no doubt that we will have human moments and yell, especially as he gets older and establishes his individuality (I even said that I knew we would in the post). We will never be the ideal parents that we hope we will be but that doesn't mean it isn't a good idea to have something to strive for/work towards/return to as parents. This blog is a place for me to sort my thoughts and ideas as I figure it all out. Some posts will rub people the wrong way because I am a first time mom trying to make sense of it all and use it to teach myself and plan for the future. What do first time moms know, right? I love sparking discussion and hearing the input of other mothers so keep the comments coming! I have no doubt that you love Mimi to the moon and back, you can just tell by looking at her that you are a wonderful mother!

    2. In no way does my comment mean that I don't think you're a great mom, or that I don't respect you. I just wanted to be honest. I still read your blog every day and enjoy it very much!

  2. I completely agree with you on the parenting style you have chosen. We are doing the same. This past summer though, I felt really helpless and like maybe it was wrong... but then I learned children go through different seasons, and it is working again.

    But I have carried my son kicking and screaming to the car :( I just kept telling myself over and over to stay calm, if I'm calm maybe he will be calm... we both can't go to crazy town together. So I carried him screaming, buckled him in while he tried to kick me and I was silent the entire time. I was silent the whole ride home too. This was when my oldest was 2 years old... and I probably shouldn't have went to the store as it was close to naptime. I know it was my fault.

    Now that he's four- this would never happen to us.

    To the poster above, we parent the same way Sarah has described but that doesn't mean we don't make mistakes, and when we do- we apologize. I apologize if I raise my voice, etc. We are human, and I think it's just as good to set that type of example too... that you are not perfect and you can say sorry about your own behavior.

    1. That is exactly what I was trying to say in the post. Use our "human moments" as teachable moments or an opportunity to show him how to handle yourself when you do lose control. We will absolutely slip up but we like to have something to strive for/return to. We hope that by the time Ayden is four, it will all be worth it! Thank you for commenting, I love hearing the thoughts of other mothers, especially ones more experienced than I!

  3. I received some great and simple advice during my stay in the hospital after giving birth-- one of our greatest responsibilities as parents is to show our children love. While this may easily go out the window in the heat of the moment, I believe how a parent reacts to a misbehaving child always says more about them than of the child. I too have witnessed what I consider abusive behavior, and it always stops me in my tracks. I don't know about you Sarah, but it always makes me hug my son a little tighter. (And no, he isn't always an angel). Thank you for this post.

    1. Thank you for commenting and encouraging. I know we won't always make the right decisions in the heat of the moment but I would like to think we will have the strength to make it right and teach Ayden the best way to handle yourself after you lose control.

  4. Samantha (samlsvgs)November 2, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    I can relate to both Sarah's post and JKL's comment. I've got four children, my husband and I parent AP/GD and I was even a 3rd grade teacher before becoming a SAHM. I just had to comment because I really feel strongly about this.

    Being a first time parent is incredible! We're empowered by every milestone and memory. Our baby's awesomeness assures us that we are not the world's worst parents. (as we feared we would be while pregnant ;-)) Its also, if we are honest, when we have the most mommier-than-thou thoughts and moments. This is totally okay and I firmly believe it is good for us as parents. It reinforces our choices as right for us and leads to some humbling teachable moments down the line. Parenting during the toddler and preschool years is not for the weak of heart or mind. Attachment parenting and gentle discipline during that age? Let's just say you'll triple your gray hair and leave it at that. AP/GD coupled with extended breastfeeding is even harder, because year two becomes a breeze - terrible? pfffph! then BAM you get to three and those in the know refer to them as the "terrorizing threes".

    My first time parent self, sweet girl, if only she knew! I got teary eyed and snuggled my baby countless times downright appalled at things I saw! Now? I get it. As Sarah wisely stated and knows there is a whole life behind that "snapshot" she saw today. My heart twinges for the child, it aches for the mother, because even though we will never know the whole story... I can take a pretty good guess. She was a loving mother who in the moment slipped and became a very frustrated human being. I bet she was terribly angry at herself and very embarrassed after the fact. I wish as mothers we wouldn't be so hard on ourselves. With love all things are possible and goodness knows, we all love our children 1000 fold - so just think what will be possible for them!

    My suggestion? This is what I do. When I see a situation like this (and no, I am not talking about witnessing child abuse. I've called the police while standing in line at Target, so yeah, been there done that) seeing a mother (or father) at her wits end. I put on my most sympathetic smile and quietly say something like "One of those days, eh?" If I am aquainted with the parent I may even mouth or whisper "Need a break, you can owe me and goodness knows I'll need it sometime." Best case scenerio, the mother doesn't feel ashamed, doesn't feel she is a "horrible parent" and takes a breath and can pull herself together and out of her frustration. Worst case scenerio she takes out her frustration on you. I see it as at least her frustration is no longer focused on her little one. Win/win.

    Sorry for the novel, but I just think as mothers we worry/guilt/second guess ourselves too much and I wish we'd all just knock it off, because mommies are awesome! ;-) (yes... daddies are too)

    Sarah, reading your first year of motherhood has really taken me back (we are so much alike) to my first year with my son, who is now 11.... I swear he was 1 just yesterday! and I thank you for that. Its so beautiful of you to share your experiences with us all. Thank you.

    1. I love hearing the advice/experiences of other mommies, especially those with more experience than me, so thank you for the novel! I feel like the best part of our parenting plans are that David and I are on the same page and will stand behind one another, both supporting in the moment (if we are together) and to gently remind one another when we've strayed. It will be a team effort and hopefully between the two of us we can do our best because that's all you can strive for, right? I knew this post would spark some discussion and I am glad that it did! Thank yo so much for reading and commenting and I appreciated your advise and input so much!

  5. I am loving the discussion that this topic has sparked! Please, keep the comments coming. We'd love to hear about your parenting style and how you would handle situations such as these.

  6. My daughter is a day older than Ayden and she just had her 9 mo well child appt- she is 31 inches tall and 20 lbs!! but my husband and I are both tall as well :) love reading your posts!

  7. Before I was a parent I would see incidents like that and wonder how a parent could treat their child that way. I had no comprehension of what parenthood was like and so I was in no place to judge. I know this now, and still think it's unfair to judge a parent (or anyone for that matter) based on one moment of their life (I don't think you were judging though, Sarah, rather I think you were wondering if there was some action you should have taken). As a mother now, I understand that things can get out of hand quickly and sometimes our ideal parenting standards fall by the wayside. I bet it's safe to say that is what happened with that mother and it was not a recurring abusive behavior. I will say that even in those moments it's most important for parents to be the ones in control of the situation. Though we don't know enough to say whether that mother is regularly abusive or just had a weak moment, I think we can all look at it as an example of what happens when we succumb to the chaos that comes with having children. Yes, I have only one child, and I may have far fewer chaotic moments than some, but my one 18 month old child now realizes he has free-will and the challenge is he doesn't always know how to express himself or understand his own emotions. We have meltdowns like I never imagined my little angel would. When things get heated and I'm losing my composure I try to talk to my son and explain to him what we're both going through because I HAVE to be the one in control. I can't possibly expect that of him. When I fail to do that, I feel bad yes, but I resolve myself to try and be better the next time. Given the benefit of the doubt I would like to think that mother took a deep breath and made the same commitment to herself and her child to be better the next time. And you did exactly what anyone could have expected of you, Sarah, by reflecting on it and using it as a learning tool. You're a wonderful mom with such a kind heart and an amazing support system (David). I appreciate you for sharing all of these moments with us because it really gets us thinking and looking inward at our own actions which we should all be doing all the time and striving to be better every day!

    1. You are so right, Maria! I know with Ayden's temperament that the route we are choosing is going to be difficult more than not but we have to try. Even as a teacher I had difficulty keeping my cool at times so I know there will be tough times. Always good to have an ideal to work towards though and I am very lucky to have David for support! As always, thank you for being so kind :)

  8. I've enjoyed reading this post and comments. My husband and I are definitely in the same parenting style as you and David. My daughter is 20 months and extremely persistent and what Dr Sears calls "high needs" (we are still up 3 times a night to hold her and comfort her because heaven forbid she cuddle in our bed - nope! Just hold and walk be around please and thank you :). Anyway, as you know there will be moments when you lose your cool at the persistent toddler. I have a few times and I always immediately find myself in tears when I see the look on her face. I am quick to apologize and call my own mistakes and I know she already sees that I am sorry and forgives me. I can only hope that those moments are teaching her how to right her wrongs down the line. As for the scene you witnessed- although I've been in that situation where my daughter had te stiffest legs/body/arms I've ever seen and did not want to be put in her carseat yet, I am proud of myself for staying in control in that moment (though it would have been easy not to). I realized where we were headed could wait and it wasn't a battle I needed to fight. I read a book to her, we sang a song, and within a few minutes she forgot the fight she was putting up and she sat down in her carseat so I could buckle her in. Will that always happen? Of course not. But you take your small successes (and failures) and learn from them as you go. You are an awesome mommy. Stay strong in your dreams and magic :)

    1. It is wonderful to hear from someone who is attempting positive parenting with a "high needs" toddler. We know it will be tough but we are determined! Thank you!

  9. I know you wrote this a while back but I came across it today and I just had to tell you something that happened Saturday. Let me start off by saying that I have two children. My daughter is 4 and my son is 1 :) My husband me and our two children went grocery shopping at Whole Foods and as we were getting our kids into the car I heard a mother yelling and screaming at her three children to get in the car. What I assume was her youngest was not listening and she slapped him on his little face! She continued to push shove and hit him until he got in the car. My daughter was standing beside me and saw the whole thing. My husband and I got our kids buckled up and got in the car. We sat for a long time watching the mom as she backed up and drove away... We were at a complete loss for words and I immediately started crying and praying for her and her children. We didn't know what to do and I just feel like I should have done something and I didn't. I can't stop thinking about what happened. That poor baby, no one deserves that kind of treatment. That night my husband and I talked and got our feeling out in the open and just reevaluated ourselves as parents and how we handle tough situations. I don't know this woman or what her life is like, but I just can't believe this could happen.Parenting is probably the hardest thing I have ever done (aside from two natural births)in my life! But I love my children dearly, they are my heart and soul and I could never imagine hurting my children in such a way! I just wanted to say thank you! You are such a wise and loving mother, you are truly inspirational!