I’ve been at this for nearly three years now, and I’ve uncovered a dreadful, dreadful mistake that I was making, am making, have been making with regularity the entire time. Like many pregnant women, I devoured books about pregnancy, books about parenting strategies, What to Expect the First Year, the Happiest Baby on the Block, Baby Wise, and so on and so on ad infinitum.
A lot of these books, a lot of the Internet advice (at least the advice I chose to listen to and follow like gospel) explain that you can’t spoil a baby. If the baby cries, you pick her up. If she wants to be snuggled, you snuggle her. If she wants to be fed, you feed her. If she is thirsty, you give her something to drink. If she wants to be inside, outside, upside down; you adjust and accommodate. Just about the only thing on which I did not cave to the whims of the tiny dictator was sleep. And I do thank the heavens for allowing me to find some sort of resolve on something in the last three years, because this could have gone so much worse.
From a place deep inside me that resides right next to my insatiable need to be liked, I believed the advice, I took it to heart. All of it. And now, as R enters childhood and leaves her babyhood behind her (sob!), I am paying for it. I am paying for every time I answered a demand for “more juice” with an immediate sippy cup. I am paying for every time I obediently hoisted her onto my hip in response to outstretched arms. I am paying for every time I allowed her to throw her food on the floor with impunity, simply picking up the pieces with a gentle admonishment.
She’s spoiled. She’s not even pleasant to be around much of the time. If she asks for something nicely and is denied, she resorts to angry demands and temper tantrums.
The hammer is about to drop in our house.
As much as it has been hurting me to deny her simple pleasures like a few minutes of Cinderella after her bath or an extra story before bed time, I tell myself that I need to do it for her own good (how’s that for a parenting phrase?). She is becoming a little tyrant, and that is unacceptable.
Why is it that punishing her also punishes me?