I was having a chat with a couple of Mum’s recently (all with kids around 4-6) and these various ladies were telling me how they are struggling to find strategies to stop doing things for their kids. One of them told me her little fella won’t do a pooh at school and waits until he gets home so his Mum can wipe his arse. Another told me she still feeds her kid because they just won’t eat otherwise.
For me, this is madness, MADNESS, but I would never say it to another parent, because it’s only madness for me. We’re all on our very own personal journey with our kids, and it’s as much about the character of the child as it is about the parent. One size absolutely does not fit all – from the second they’re born to the second they scream out of your house without looking back. We’ve all got to parent the children we’ve got.
But we were having a discussion and they asked me how I tackled these situations – because it was obvious that neither of my boys were getting this sort of attention from me.
Easy. For me it was really simple. I just stopped and never did it again.
For example, with the toilet, I was in yet another hot, steamy public toilet in Singapore with one of my lads taking too much time in the production of a number two. I cannot tell you how BAD it is being in a hot, humid place, consuming nothing but the stench of pooh dust. I’m standing there in misery and I thought you know what, I’ve bloody had enough of this.
“Guys I’ll wait outside.”
I got an excessive wailing and gnashing of teeth, but that simple decision to no longer wipe anyone’s arse felt great. I also realized that if they didn’t do a good enough job, so be it, they’d soon learn. We all know the consequence is an itchy arse, so a day or two of discomfort would see their skills improve quickly. It did.
That changed my life a few years back – as have all instant “no more” parenting decisions.
On the eating front, I’ve always found this one quite interesting. Living in Asia, kids are spoon fed long beyond other kids around the world, and I’ve often had to stop the various helpers who’ve worked for us feeding our kids. That is not always an easy behavior to stop – in the adults, not the kids.
But equally, I’ve seen parents stress so much about how much their kids eat, with slow eating children causing grey hair in parents long before it was due. It’s hard NOT to excessive about your child’s sustenance, because there’s nothing more important to a parent than raising strong, healthy kids.
However, screw it. My kids have an amount of time to eat their dinner – and it’s a generous period of time – but if they stuff around and don’t eat, the food is gone. Problem solved. They want help eating? No bloody way. If they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat. If they mess around. Wait until the next meal. It helps them behave during mealtimes too – bonus.
Chuppa Chups fit into the food category – kind of. A guaranteed condiment at any kids’ birthday celebrations, I bloody hate Chuppa Chups. I don’t know how many of these suckers I’ve struggled to open over the years, but again, one day I decided I’d never open another Chuppa Chup in my life. The boys obviously screamed and cursed at me, but I said “you want it badly enough, you’ll work it out.”
Surprise surprise they did, although other adults are suckers for their charms here. Hello! I’m making a point and trying to get them to do it. As long as it’s not me I suppose.
There are many many examples where I just said enough was enough. It’s been a good parenting strategy for me and I’ve always discovered that the boys quickly gain whatever new skill I enforce on them. The additional bonus is it helps them to become just that little bit more independent of me. That’s the goal.
One day I may mourn these years (from a “it went so fast” perspective), although I’ll be surprised if I do. But if you’re a Mum or a Dad and don’t want to do anything anymore, my experience says to just stop doing it. Some of you may struggle with this, expecting emotional outbursts of gigantic proportions, but kids always surprise.
Anyone else relate?
Yours, without the bollocks