Mine and Todd's approach to parenting is one that is not common amongst the parents we know. Our friends will describe us, to our faces anyway, as "laid back" in comparison to their self described "neurotic!" I am often told I am patient beyond belief, particularly during the craziness that was otherwise known as twin toddlerhood. Of course, those same people were probably not within the four walls of my home at about 430 pm when all the patience I may or may not have had earlier was suddenly and scarily replaced by worn nerves and frustration.
But, despite having moments where, of course, I lose my cool I do try to maintain a patient (somewhat) and laid-back demeanor when handling my trifecta.
Patience is required when two three year olds believe getting dressed for school should be at a marathoners pace as opposed to a sprinters. Patience is required for the boy who talks more than he listens, another whose mind is often off, somewhere else, perhaps swinging from "his" webs, and yet another whose love of dumping boxes and containers is reaching its apex.
If I lost my patience too easily than the shenanigans of three little boys would have my undies in a bunch all too often.
But, that aside, our method of parenting, we believe, allows our kids to be who they want to be while learning, through experiences. Our goal, as most people's, is to raise good boys, and hopefully good men, filled with confidence and not with fear.
It's true, I have let my kids learn that steps can be dangerous by, dare I admit it, falling down one or two. My intention is not to send my kids off to the ER, in fact I am usually nearby to break the fall, but my belief is that children don't learn by you telling them it is dangerous- those words just peak their curiousity. And, they won't learn the extent of life's dangers if I am behind their every step, never letting them trip up even once. I believe that they learn best by doing, by experiencing. Before you go calling the authorities on us, let me be clear that I do not use this same method of parenting/learning for the rule of no playing in traffic! But, yes, we give our kids a long leash to learn with and we are, so far, happy with the results.
Our boys have a lot of freedom to explore, to learn by touching, feeling, and doing. We let them go as far as we can before putting our foot down, when necessary. Many may say I do not have it in me, to discipline with any sort of authority. Three years ago I would have said the same thing. But, as it turns out, I do. I do because it is important to me that beneath the laughter, the fun, the chaos, the sometimes wild always energetic boys, is a core of respectable, well-mannered, and kind children. It is more important to me than most things.
Todd and I demand manners, always. We demand respect. We punish when necessary and we don't backdown. We do not always get these things, they are afterall, still just babies. But, we demand it, and we imbed it into their minds, into their beings, and it will be part of the men they become.
No, we don't punish often, and though we raise our voices we do not yell at them too often. But, when we do, they know it. They know they did something wrong and that there will be consequences.
I hate seeing my boys cry. My heart cries with each of thier tears and if I was not trying to hold up a strong front I would probably be bawling myself. But, sometimes, you must let them cry.
Yes, they test us. All of the time. And, though I can be a sucker at moments, mostly for the little things, never, ever do I give in on any of the big things. Whiners don't get. Hitters or biters go to their room. Bad language gets soap. Aggressive behaviour is unacceptable. Poor table manners, ultimately, gets your food removed and disrespect lands you with some consequences. The degree of the crime is directly related to the degree of the punishment.
Kids will be kids, boys will be boys, and they should be. I admit it, I want them to get into a little bit of trouble, otherwise they would lack the curiousity necessary to grow. Every child has their moment of bad behaviour that is typical of babyhood, toddlerhood, or a pre-schooler, and I try not to deflate their confidence for these normal acts. I tell them NO, and move on. It's the bigger stuff. The stuff that molds them. That's what I see as the most important, that's what has triggered the disciplinarian in the non-confrontational me!