Thursday, 11 July 2013

Oops I did it again!

There are certain things I have realized in life. One is, for example don’t pick four different types of alcoholic beverage (like PIMM’S, gin, white wine and beer let’s say) and consume them rapidly and consecutively in one night. Unfortunately I don’t always heed the lessons I have learnt, a point which I was able to ruminate on quite extensively last Sunday morning, and indeed, well into Sunday afternoon. (Thanks for the paracetamol Mum – and to hubs for entertaining the kids).
Go home Barbie, you're drunk.
But it got me to thinking that as parents we also make the same mistakes over and over – even though we know better. These are my top five poor parenting techniques, which although I know they achieve nothing, and sometimes even make matters worse, I still manage to do:

1 Shouting

If children actually behaved simply because you shouted at them, there would be no naughty children in the entire world. I think we all know that our children heard us the first time we asked them to ‘Stop doing that!’ And since it wasn’t their hearing that was at fault – simply repeating the request at a far louder volume is unlikely to improve matters. However, I still find myself shouting pointlessly at my offspring – I think I believe I am using it for emphasis (I really do mean to get off the sofa with that melty ice-cream) but actually I am using it as a way to blow off steam. I’m pretty sure the real solution is counting to ten. Quietly.
A megaphone is no help - they are ignoring you!

2. Transposing the authority

I hate hearing that ‘the man over there will tell you off’ from other parents when I’m out and about. Not only is it likely to give a child issues in meeting new people above and beyond the required ‘stranger danger’, it means that you’re not making it clear who is in charge (in case you are wondering it’s YOU!!). Children need to be told quite clearly that their parent makes the decisions, and that the children get to follow those decisions. And yet…I do find myself telling a certain little lady that if she doesn’t decide which summer dress to wear within the next five minutes, I will be taking her to school in her knickers and letting her teacher deal with the decision. What can I say? I’m not at my best in the morning…

3. Empty threats

Picture the scene – your child is happily involved in some highly creative imaginary game when you come along and ask her/him to stop everything and get ready for some real-world activity. Like now! Somehow for el kiddo, the imaginary world that they control is far more enjoyable that the one where you are in charge, banging on about the time, the rules, what’s allowed and what’s not. What is needed here is a few minutes warning, a calm explanation of how the next ten minutes are going to go and some parental persuasion. So there is absolutely no point in making an empty threat of punishment – along the lines of ‘if you don’t get dressed immediately – you won’t be able to go swimming’. Because both you and I know, that those swimming lessons cost cold hard cash – and you’re not sacrificing one unless your child is missing a limb or something.

4. Telling fibs

For some reason in our society we value honesty and want our children to grow up trustworthy. However, I am regularly telling my children tall tales about the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. I also tell them if they don’t brush their teeth properly they will all fall out and their peers will think they are witches and refuse to play with them at school. It’s at times like this I wonder where my eldest daughter got her over-developed sense of imagination from…I’m not proud of my lack of honesty, and am slightly worried how I’ll justify my embellishments when they discover that it’s me putting a pound under their pillow (and yes, leaving glittery fairy dust and notes written in teeny, tiny handwriting too). In the words of my teenage muse Scarlett O’Hara – ‘I’ll think about that tomorrow’.
'My life will be just like this romantic novel' (lies, all lies!)

5. And telling the truth

Let’s face it, some kids can be little shits. Not mine, or yours, of course (research* proves those people that read parenting blogs have perfect children…), but some people’s kids. And if a nasty piece of work upsets your child, you see red. And I might have, in the past, told my children truthful, yet not very nice, things about the perpetrator of such meanness. Just hypothetically speaking, if a child persistently told my child that she was much clever than her, I might just of, hypothetically, have suggested that my child replies something along the lines of ‘well if you are so clever why did you have to go and see the head teacher for fighting?’ I’m not proud of what I did (hypothetically) – but I’m pretty sure I’m going to hell for it.

*I just made that up.
So, knowing all this about myself – I have to ask – what kind of parent am I??? A pretty average one I’m hoping, since we all make mistakes once in a while. The important thing is that we acknowledge where we go wrong – and approach looking after our kids not with military precision and rebukes but with a sense of humour and enjoyment. It’s true that our kids learn more from watching how we behave than from listening to what we say, so be natural, be normal and be happy around your children – they’ll thank you for it in the end!

What parental confessions can I prize out of you? Are you a perfect parent – or can you admit the occasional slip up to me in the box below? Please do, otherwise I might think it’s just me…it’s not right?????


  1. When a horrid little girl who has been bullying my daughter, told her that her Dad was going to be coming soon to visit and would "tackle" her Dad. I most certainly did NOT reply that I doubted she knew who her Dad was. Not my finest hour either!

    1. LOL!!! It makes me feel better anyway...

  2. Thanks for the blog Vanessa, great read...I think we are all guilty of all things above. Today I took a lolly off my step-daughter because she didn't say thank you when I gave it to her. She got it back in the end...after a thinking moment or 2. Later on I asked her Dad for a drink...and I didn't say please. She spotted it in a whizz, but was very nice about it...perhaps I was too harsh before (and embarrassed I forgot my please). I actually don't think it is a bad thing to tell kids about Santa and the tooth fairy. It is fun, they enjoy it and when they are old enough to know it is not true...they don't mind it was made up (they then just want more...and more....)

    I'm sure I've said a million things I shouldn't have....and still will, but will keep trying not to. :)

    1. Thank you for commenting! I hope I can bear some of the blog points in mind over the holidays...

  3. There were a few (at least I think it was a few) times my boys (now in their 20's) turned me into a screaming banshee woman by not listening/obeying my perfectly reasonable request, like to please stop fighting. But, then there's the time they made me cry -- when I had to get us packed up at a hotel room and driven over to the other side of a strange city in a rental (hired) car to pick up their father AND THEY WOULD NOT COOPERATE. So, I figure we're even. (P.S.: They both seem to be well-adjusted, self-supporting, reasonable grown ups, so apparently, they were not indelibly scarred by my occasional poor parenting.)