October 6, 2009
When my daughter first started pitching these incredible three-year-old tantrums, I didn’t know what to do. I alternated between horrified, embarrassed, angered and exhausted by the change. Where did my sweet little friend go? I felt like something special between us had died. I also experienced a good dose of mother’s guilt as I tried to determine what I could have done wrong to “break” my little girl. (My husband never suffers this kind of guilt btw…)
But, I’ve regained my equilibrium and I’m coming clean. My daughter is not, of course, broken but IS still smart, funny, sweet and beautiful. She can also be a little stinker. So, our recent ventures into this new developmental phase reminded us of our parenting goals.
Since before our daughter was born, my husband and I agreed that we wanted to use a different parenting approach than the one we both experienced growing up and the one many of our friends were using, namely – punishment and spanking. While we deeply respect our parents and appreciate the love and wisdom they put into raising us, we feel that telling a child not to hit and then hitting them, no matter how “lovingly” seems inconsistent and confusing.
Our goal is to show our children, by example, the way they should go. We don’t want fear of punishment to be our kids’ motivation to do the right thing. Rather, by listening, quickly responding and showing our daughters the same respect we expect from them, we work to build a connection that will assure them they can always count on us to respond to them with love, no matter what they have done or who they become. As we travel the path of life with them, experiencing its beauty and challenges together, we wish them to internalize the character qualities - integrity, love, discipline, strength and compassion - we value in ourselves.
More to come…