Cautionary tale

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?

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6 Responses to Cautionary tale

  1. Victoria says:
    That guy is really good. He takes kind of a 1950s approach to parenting, but it’s the way a lot of us were raised and it worked. He has a lot of good solutions to common problems.
    Anyway, when I read your post I thought of him. I hope you get things sorted out with R. Really, we’re kinda told that those books won’t steer us wrong, and the books make us feel like if we do anything but follow their advice we’re bad parents.
    By punishing her you’re not punishing yourself. In the long run, you’re kind of liberating yourself. If you can teach her now that you aren’t going to be walked all over, it’ll make your life much easier when she’s 10, when she’s 16, and so on.
    And no matter how bad you feel about punishing her, remember that you really are only doing it for her own good. You’re not a bad mom, you’re a strong one.

  2. Mar says:

    She is just pushing her limits. Push back just a little at a time and she will figure out that your the boss once again.

  3. skiplovey says:

    good for you to recognize this now and do something about it. i saw all that advice too but you know what i also saw? my sister following that advice and never setting limits. my nephew is 4 now and while he’s a sweet kid, he’s also spoiled. and its way harder to set limits on him now than if she would have done it when he was younger.
    and don’t think of it as punishing her or yourself, you’re setting limits and kids NEED limits, they like limits, it lets them know how far they can go. if they don’t know where the edge is its scary for them.
    Good luck, you’ll have your sweet little girl back but this time with manners.

  4. Christina says:

    Hell, so now what do I do? HA!
    I know what you mean by punishing yourself- you tell her no and inforce it and its hard- it is so much easier to let her have her way. But, I agree with everyone it will be worth it and soon. Thanks for the peek – Im taking notes.

  5. on I totally agree. Sometimes it’s easier for us parents to just give the child what they want…..but you are doing the right thing. For sure.

  6. mpotter says:

    great post. i just stumbled in and it totally hit me.
    b/c little bean is 3mos old and i have been wondering about this SINCE DAY ONE!!!

    i know right now i need to answer her needs. b/c she is a baaabbbbbyyyy
    but i have asked since literally in the hospital- ok. so i do it NOW. but when is enough??

    i’ve gotten no answer.
    i hope i figure it out.

    and i think that with R being in that toddler age, a lot of it also has to do with asserting independence. good luck to your sticking to your guns.
    b/c i taught 1st grade for 7 years and saw a LOT of parents who didn’t recognize this at all.

    good luck!

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