When Plans go Awry (or, The Time it Took Me 15 Minutes to Leave Target)

We were at one of my girls’ favorite stores, killing the 20ish minutes we had to kill before we had a lunch meeting. I had left the house early since I had a quick stop to make and having a potty trainee around tends to slow me down a bit. We had checked out, gotten our “doggy stickers” and were preparing to walk out the door, jump in the car, and head to the meeting, when my youngest child decided she didn’t want to walk (even though she had been whining to get out of the cart to walk the entire time we were in the store). I assured her she was perfectly capable of walking, and since I was carrying a large-ish box of wipes I didn’t really have an extra arm to both carry her and hold her sister’s hand.  What followed may have been the most impressive tantrum I have ever personally witnessed.

My sweet, happy, innocent 14-month-old sat down, rolled over, laid on her stomach, and began to wail the most heart-wrenching/laughter-inducing cry she may have ever wailed. She would alternate between standing up, putting her arms in the air to make the “up” signal and throwing herself back down and wailing once more. Oh, did I mention this display occurred in the foyer part of the store – between the exit doors? You know, the place everyone is trying to get through to be able to get away from that random child who is screaming for no apparent reason. Once I was finally able to keep her on her feet for long enough to take the 6 steps to get us out the door she collapsed once again, this time on the sidewalk outside of the store.

To make an already long story a bit shorter, I eventually carried her, potato-sack-style to the car and buckled her in while her older sister climbed into her car seat. Then the older one expressed an imminent need for a bathroom.

I was late for my lunch meeting.

Here’s the thing – I could have given in to her to save time and make the meeting on time. I could have picked her up once she started begging and making a scene and throwing her tantrum. But there will always be something we need to get to. There will always be something we’re going to be late to if we stay the course and discipline appropriately. At some point we have to take a stand and just say no.

We have to make our children understand that we will not allow unacceptable behavior. The world does not revolve around them, as much as they want to believe it does. It would not be fair to her sister, to me, or really even to her for me to give in when she whines like that. Now, with that being said, there are times that I give in to our children; if they are over-tired, for example. Or if they are not feeling well. But as hard as it to do, even when we are trying to enjoy a nice dinner out, if one of them acts up, either my husband or I has to take them outside (or to the foyer/bathroom/etc) and show them that they will not act this way in public.

I think sometimes we are so concerned about being the “fun” parent we ease up on the discipline. Please don’t get offended by what I say next, but raising young children is a lot like training a puppy. Consistency is key. Setting boundaries and then sticking to those boundaries not only makes your life easier (eventually) but it also makes your child’s (or puppy’s) life easier. It tells him or her what he or she can and cannot do. There are consequences for every action; whether positive (rewards) or negative (punishment).

So please, fellow parents out there in the blogosphere, as important as it is to make plans and to stick to them, be ready to make some adjustments. Sometimes plans go awry and there is nothing you can do except to laugh, exchange knowing glances with other parents who have been through this problem, and stand there with an amused/embarrassed look on your face as your beautiful little baby attempts to scale your legs because she just doesn’t want to have to walk any further. Keep fighting the good fight. It will be worth it one day.

At least that’s what I keep hearing…

 

This post was written by my beautiful and talented wife, Bettina.  She provides her perspective on life and parenting once a month here at DADandFATHER.com.

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Fatherhood from a Mother’s Perspective

This week I wanted to give you all a little treat, so I’ve asked my wife to write this post.  My wife, Bettina, will now be writing once a month here on DADandFATHER.com.  She’s a little shy about sharing her writing with the world, but as you’ll see her shyness is unwarranted.  Enjoy.

So to preface this blog post, let me clarify something – I do not claim to speak for every mom (or woman for that matter) out there. All I can tell you is my own personal perspective as a woman and a mother who is in love with a man and a father, and who was raised by a mother and a father. A couple more disclaimers: number 1; when I talk about “dad” in this post I mean the male figure in a child’s life. Maybe the child in your life doesn’t share your DNA, or he or she doesn’t live with you full-time. Doesn’t matter. “Dad” still refers to you.  Number 2: I tend to over-generalize sometimes. I understand that family relationships are very unique and do not mean to offend in any way. More often now than ever before, dad stays home with the kids while mom works; a “role reversal” or so Hollywood would have us believe. Again, doesn’t matter. You are still dad (see disclaimer one) with all the rights and responsibilities that go along with the title. Ok, now that the intro stuff is out-of-the-way, let’s get started, shall we?

On one hand, I’m glad Mother’s day and Father’s day are so close together; it makes it much easier to compare and contrast how society views each parental role. On the other hand, there is SO much hoopla that surrounds Mother’s day that Father’s day being only 5(ish) weeks later seems kind of unfair. Mothers are lauded as being these super-human beings that handle pregnancy, childbirth, feeding, cleaning, laundry, dishes, no sleep, no appreciation, and no pay with a smile. While that may be an accurate assessment of what countless moms go through there is little said about dad who has her back. Mom may be the one up doing the 3 midnight feedings, but dad certainly doesn’t sleep through it. Mom may be the one doing the dishes Every. Single. Moment. Of Every. Single. Day. But dad is the one who comes home from work and doesn’t say anything about how bad the counter looks. Mom may be the one who has to deal with pregnancy and childbirth but dad…well ok really dad doesn’t have much to put up with during that time – and no, you’re not allowed to talk about the emotional rollercoaster you’re put through because of mom’s mood swings. Mom is growing a life – what have you done today?

In all seriousness though, mom will have a MUCH harder time being that superhero that she is idolized for if she is doing this alone. Whether “dad” in this picture is biological or not; or “with” mom or not is of very little consequence. Mom needs someone to turn to – because as Five for Fighting reminds us, “Even heroes have the right to bleed”.  There’s an old adage that says some variation of, “behind every good (or successful) man, there is a great woman”. This saying is certainly true but it is no less true that, “behind every great tall-building-leaping mom, is a shoulder-offering male father figure”.

Dads, don’t let anyone tell you that you are the “inferior” or “less important” parent. Yes, mom is important. But you are absolutely irreplaceable in your child’s life! Let me say that again – your child NEEDS you. When I watch Jeff interact with our girls I am reminded again how fortunate we all are to have him in our lives. Our girls adore him – and they need him for different reasons than they need me. One request: please don’t turn mom and dad into “good cop/bad cop” to your child(ren). Children need both parents to be on the same page, at least for the most important issues, in order to be able to form good ideals, opinions, and an understanding of how the world works.

Dads are kind of the unsung heroes of the parenting world. If mom is the movie star that gets all the attention; dad is the camera operator that knows how to present mom in her best light so she doesn’t look old and haggard. Mom is the news anchor that you see every night on the news; dad is the editor or the beat writer that does all the research that goes into what she says. I cannot stress enough how important you are. So whether you’re reading this and you are a dad already, or planning to be a dad one day soon(ish) please know that we moms appreciate your support  for us in our good times and bad, the pretty and the ugly, and that you really do mean the world to us. Maybe you aren’t a dad, but you know one – go shake that dad’s hand or give him a good high-five and tell him how much you admire him for doing what he does.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DADS!!!!