Monday, February 8, 2010

Walking the Fine Line...

I love this boy. He has a heart of gold. He is the child who will come and and just randomly say, "I love you". He is the boy that randomly whispered to Eric, 'let's go buy mommy some flowers'. He is also the child that went out of his way to say "thank you for inviting us over."

But these emotions and this tenderness also comes with the most stubborn and strong willed child I have ever met. He knows what he wants and if he does not want to do it, he will say no, he will be defiant and he will lose control. It doesn't matter who it is either, he has no fear of saying no to Eric or I or any adult for that matter. I never would have done that at his age, I would have been way too scared.. now as a teenager, but at five!

We have taught him about respect, about obeying, about parents being in charge and I have even found myself saying, "do not say no to me!" But as I have tried to figure out how to teach Lucas about respect and obeying, the thing I will never say to him, is you do not say no to an adult.

Maybe working as a foster care worker and seeing adults who were supposed to be the ones caring for and loving the kids but were causing the harm made me overly sensitive to this. Seeing adults who again and again, abused, hurt and neglected their kids.. adults who needed to be told no.

So I find myself stuck and wondering... wondering how do I teach him to respect and obey but keep him safe? We talk about not always being able to do things on 'Lucas Time' and teach him to work and that life isn't always fair...but yet he we still deal with this battle.

It has led me to think, is this fear part of the reason that has led to a general lack of respect for grownups in society. You rarely hear kids say yes ma'am and yes sir anymore (well maybe still in the south)...but maybe we need more of this. We need kids who respect and listen, but we also need adults who will respect and be kind back.

So, I continue my struggle back and forth looking for that perfect balance. The balance of safety, obedience, and just not wanting to crush their precious independent spirits. How about you? Do you struggle with this balance?


  1. Posts like this one really remind me of how hard parenting is, and how hard my job will become in the days, months and years to come.

    I agree, we need more respect... as a society. I think you are doing a good job teaching Lucas respect.

  2. I have four strong-willed more than the others...and I completely understand where you're coming from. The thing I try to be consistent in using are the principles found in Love and Logic--because I feel that they closely mirror gospel and real-world principles. I'm sure you're already familiar with it but if not, here is a link:

    Other than that I say, pray, love, and just do your best. :) You're doing great.

  3. I also have a strong willed 5 year old! I definitely find myself saying "Don't say no to Mom!" I don't put her in time out for many things anymore, but that is one that thing will earn an immediate one.

    I agree that we need to instill respect but at the same time have kids that will stand up for themselves when they are being mistreated. That is one reason that I am actually proud of my kids when they say, "Don't yell at me!" when I lose it. Of course, they probably wouldn't have the courage to do that if I was an abusive parent.

    I love seeing my daughter's strong will and I definitely don't want to kill her spirit, but there are definitely times that I can't stand it. It is most definitely a fine line.

    I have found that the most effective thing for her is to immediately point out when something is appropriate and when it is not. If we are watching a show or reading a book I am always asking her "is that ok?" so that we can process situations together. I definitely do NOT want one of those kids that will mouth off to any adult. I will be mortified if I ever hear of that and I WILL LET HER KNOW!!!

  4. (wow, I used the word definitely A LOT)

  5. I wouldn't even know where to begin. My daughter is only 1 but I can see that same stubbornness already in her. If you figure out how to do the balancing act let me know!!

  6. I feel completely the same way! It's so hard to know what the exactly right thing to do is!

  7. I love that he tells your husband to buy flowers for you! I want a boy like that! As to the strong willed part, all I can say is to give him choices. He can do this or that, and when he says he wants to do something else, or doesn't want to do anything at all, tell him it isn't one of his choices... or read Love and Logic. That book is like gold. Good luck with it!

  8. At our house, we talk about respect alot. Treat each other with respect and expect it in return. We have always taught our kids that if an adult is asking them to do something and it is not disrespectful to them or their bodies, then they need to obey. No questions asked. And yes, our Southern Raised children are expected to say mam and sir.

  9. It's nice to know that others struggle with this as well. Miyah is super independent. Of course she's only 10 months old, but we're trying to start teaching her about obedience. She just laughs at us when we tell her no. So I don't have any suggestions ;) Good luck!

  10. love your blog layout :)

  11. It is so hard to parent! I have no clue how to handle that one as we aren't, age wise, quite there yet, but I feel like your thoughts thus far are right on track. It's just such a hard balance between respect and spirit!!!!

  12. Kids today are given (much too) many rights. They have the right to...fill in the blank here. My parents put the fear of God in me. They never hit. Got yelled at a lot. Did it scar me for life? Nope. So where is the balance you ask...I need to practice what I preach here...but this is it...

    1. Consistency
    2. Following through.

    The rules must stay the same. And if you say this will happen if you do this, then that thing must happen. I am lazy at times, it's easier to threaten than do. So Ryan gets out of control, and then I lay down the law again...we just need to keep at it. parenting is such a hard job.

  13. Raising Your Spirited Child...

    I'm re-reading it right now!

  14. Gosh ... if you figure it out, let me know. I know I have to remind myself that I AM THE PARENT and my son does need to listen and respect me. I use my "I'm not joking" tone and that usually works but I wish he would just do it on his own. Perhaps it is the age.

  15. I have this precise problem with my youngest daughter -- who is six. My other two children were not this way. Emma can be so volatile, but she's also the kid with the most drive to succeed -- when she was learning to read, she wouldn't just fight her way through words and then move on, she would read sentences over and over again, until she got it exactly right.

    The fine line is a perfect way to describe the dilemma -- how do I clip her wings, and still let her fly?

    I think there is a real disconnect (sometimes) between parents of our generation, and our children. It's really paradoxical. On one hand, we seem to hover over them -- most kids in our neighborhood get driven to school, though it's less than a mile away, and we live in a very safe area. On the other hand, we also seem to want to plop them down in front of a television, so we can get a little "me" time.

    Sometimes, when I think about the respect issue, I wonder if I'm doing the things that would cause my children to have respect for me.

    Great post Emmy, very thoughtful.

  16. Emmy---Had to laugh because I remember when Eric was young and he grabbed a big handful of my living room drapes--completely wrinkling and wadding it up-- and then looking over at me--eyes gleaming with mischief-- said in a big, loud voice:


    I remember struggling as you describe, but I have to agree with e and Rebecca and Co--I THINK YOU'RE DOING A GREAT JOB! You girls nowadays are lucky to have such a good support system through blogs and email, as well as Relief Society and local friends. I'm proud of you, and I love you!!!

  17. He sounds so much like of mine.... :) He's adorable!
    p.s. this is in fausetphotography jen. :)

  18. I neglected to keep a balance of discipline and consistency with my children growing up, now they are grown and walk all over me I am trying to teach them now, a much harder job, do what you can to be consistent, fair, and strong, they will be independent I promise.

  19. He's so handsome! My 5 year old is also very strong-willed and will tell people no if he doesn't want to do it. It KILLS me. We are also working on respect to all people. I have no suggestions for you. It's tough to be a parent.

  20. Oh! OH! OH! You just described my son! Only he is 3 years younger than yours. So, if you have any more breakthroughs PLEASE share!

  21. I struggle with this every day. I understand what you are saying PEFRFECTLY! We just have a hard time with the lack of respect, yet you still have to help them learn that just because someone's an adult doesn't mean that they are the ultimate person in charge, it's hard to teach them how to discern between being respectful, and being safe.

    I feel your struggle!