When your parenting principles get in the way

I had a little epiphany yesterday.  And I wasn’t even drinking at the time.

I was in the great company of my favourite psychologist this week and was telling him about how Mignon was driving me mad with her whining at the supper table on Tuesday night.

We had chicken pie, rice and salad for supper (all her favourite things) and from the get-go we could see that things were going to go pear-shaped for her.  In the back of my mind I knew she was probably overtired, but I chose to ignore that screaming little voice and all the flashing warning lights.

She was whining and crying about how she couldn’t cut her chicken pie, literally sitting in a little heap on her chair, when Isabel and Daniel had no problem and it is very much something she is able to do for herself.  To cut a long story short it ended up in a time-out for her amid much sobbing and crying and drama. (have I ever mentioned how much I hate drama?)

Supper is a special time for us (or it’s meant to be).  It’s the one time of day no-one is in a rush or staring at the TV/computer and we normally have a lovely chat and hear stories about their day that we never would have heard otherwise.  So you can imagine that we jealously guard this time with them.

The other thing that is really important to me is fairness.  How could I possibly agree to cut Mignon’s chicken pie when we just made Daniel and Isabel cut theirs? What message does that send to them? (this has more to do about my own family stuff.  See also: drama)

In the end Etienne basically just picked her up and took her to bed where she stayed until the next morning, she literally passed out.  I ended up feeling like a complete bitch, wondering how I could have handled it differently without compromising on the things that are important to me as a person and a parent.

So, the following scenario was presented to me by my shrink:

He had recently heard about a family who believed in the power of prayer and didn’t take their sick child to the doctor.  The child then died and by law an autopsy had to be done and they had to go to court.  Apparently the judge then suggested that they should have considered placing their love for their child before their personal principles.

This made me think.  I have all these issues I am dealing with and mistakes I am trying not to make with my own children, do I sometimes place those principles and the mistakes I so desperately try not to make before my love for my children and what they might need at any given point in time?

The short answer:  You bet.

So, next time I’m going to say to Isabel and Daniel “Guys, thanks for cutting your own chicken pie, would you mind if Mom/Dad helped Mignon tonight?”  And before jumping on my principles I’m going to try to take a step back and ask myself whether they interfere with my love for my child.

Damn, parenting is hard sometimes.

16 thoughts on “When your parenting principles get in the way”

  1. Ah, walking the fine line between being a sympathetic parent and an over-indulgent parent – such a tricky one. We all want to be the former, and live in mortal fear of being the latter.
    Sorry my dear, and thanks for the great insight.

  2. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to learn. I think we will all make mistakes in our life, but as long as you can see and admit to it, there shouldn’t be a problem.

    Stop worrying about ruining your kids, you are doing a great job at raising them and are a GREAT MOM!!

  3. Eish, I hear you, sister! Trying to have fair and consistent boundaries for our children sometimes is at odds with the fact that they are unique individuals with specific, individual needs. Sjoe, this parenting lark is not for the faint-hearted!

  4. Your shrink makes a valid point and I think it’s something all of us are guilty of to a certain degree. But I like your idea of how to handle these situations in future!

  5. Great insights and yes it is so important to treat each situation as it arises and also realise that our children need different parenting from us at different times! Have a great weekend hopefully this evening will be calmer! (otherwise there is always wine):)

    1. Ha. You read my mind. I also have it on good authority that there is gluhwein in my schedule for tomorrow at a kids party where someone else keeps the kids busy…

  6. SNAP! D and I had a very similar session yesterday at our couples therapy.

    Kiara has taught me this – she has taught me to change the way I parent – to be more open, to put it bluntly – treat her differently to her brothers. It doesnt mean it is frustration free at all but it does work to parent from that place and not try to get her to do things she can’t.

  7. I am currently hiding in the study (beeeeeg glass of wine in hand) as my husband sticks to his principles with our child. That’s another whole blog post.. The wretched balance between one parents strictness and the other’s propensity to treat each situation individually 🙁

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