Growing up I always wanted to be a mom. I just knew it was part of my life calling. Then we decided to have a baby, and at 6 weeks pregnant we got the news that there were two babies! I’ve written about how babyhood was not my superpower, at all! I just never felt like I was making all that big of a difference in my babies’ lives. Feeding, burping, changing, napping and then repeat, ugh:(
Eventually, though, the girls started talking and walking and I was thrilled!! From the beginning, I would explain to them why we did what we did. I always wanted to treat them with the same respect I’d give an adult.
- They are really smart, so why treat them like they aren’t?
- They deserve respect. I mean, I wouldn’t listen to anyone barking orders. In fact, I’d probably flip the order barker off. Kids do the same.
- They need responsibilities, and in fact, love jobs. There are lots of tasks around our house that are the girls’ jobs, because they include their stuff. Like picking up toys; why should I pick up toys when it’s not my stuff? I pick up my stuff, so we expect them to do the same.
- Lastly, in the end, we are raising women and men, not baby girls and baby boys.
So how does this spill over into what parents consider “discipline?” Well, when my children were toddlers, let’s say they had a small toy in their mouth. I would ask them to spit it out, then explain that they could choke on it and that’s why we don’t put toys in our mouth.
Once they were fully talking, when one of my daughters was doing something we didn’t think was “behaving,” I would sit down on the carpet with my two little two-year-olds and we’d have a “chat.” We’d sit in a circle and talk about why the behavior wasn’t a good idea. Sometimes they even came up with better reasons than I would have given them.
One of my favorites was in the car; the girls loved to take their shoes off. So I asked them to keep their shoes on and explained once we got to the store, if mommy had to put their shoes back on, it was another job for mommy. And it was hot outside, so I’d be sweating outside the car. Looking back this helped with their empathy too; they didn’t want mommy to have more work or sweat!
As big kindergarteners, we’ve made a morning and afternoon checklist for them to complete. We have it on the chalkboard on the wall in the hall. It is entirely their job to complete the checklist. Our job as parents is to help keep them focused and get it done in a timely manner. So I usually ask, “Did you finish the list?”
None of this is rocket science by any means. The only downside I’ve found so far is when I do ask them to do something, occasionally they ask “Why?” This sort of drives my husband insane; he usually responds “BECAUSE YOUR MOTHER SAID SO!” So, while we feel it’s important to treat our children as adults, we still require respect to everyone in our family. Everyone respects everyone, and that’s the bottom line.