I walked into my brother’s house to pick my kids up who were having a great time playing with their cousins. I noticed by 2 year-old just fine, and suddenly begins to whine and is having trouble listening when he sees me. I noticed it, but I didn’t want to admit it. I took them home, and the next day, my wife told me about how my sister-in-law explained this occurrence to her. My wife and I aren’t ones for making excuses, but we both recognized the need to push through our exhaustion to make sure that the structure and discipline we worked deliberately for in our daughter was also instilled in our son.
Individual vs Team Sports
One of the first things my wife and I discussed a while ago was how we could revolve everything we did around making sure she behaved correctly; this might include leaving a store to end a tantrum. However, trying to do that with our son may inadvertently serve to punish our daughter, who may be behaving perfectly in the midst of his trouble-making. When the two of us take the kids out, this is accomplished easily, but when we take the kids out on our own, which is often since we have opposite schedules, this becomes very difficult.
Good Enough for Me?
I grew up in a very strict house. It was one of those situations where a step-dad had to impose his will through a fear and manipulation. In this setting, even at a young age, I could understand when I was being disciplined (punished) because someone was in a bad mood. It wasn’t just my step-dad. Since I was the youngest, everyone took out their bad moods on me. If my brother was yelled at, he could get it off his chest by taking it out on me. When this happened, I could get it off my chest by… Oh, wait… I couldn’t. Knowing this, I have refused to act differently towards my kids just because I happened to be angry or frustrated by something else.
Spare the Rod…
My wife and I both made the decision before kids that we would not spank our kids. This does not mean we look down on anyone who does, nor does it mean that we let our kids run free. We do not assume behaviors are a “phase” they will outgrow. Instead, we understand that behavior needs to be taught, reinforced, encouraged, and consistently enforced. In my Special Education classroom, I have been quite successful in dealing with students who have difficult behaviors. However, my wife has shown me and helped me to translate that over to my own kids where I would want to inject some fatherly love and affection in the process. Discipline without love is punishment. Love without discipline is empty.
I chose this idea of putting the hammer down, and this specific clip at the top to illustrate one final point:
If you do try to Put the hammer down and become heavy-handed in your discipline without including love, be careful that your kids don’t harden themselves to it, and you will lose out on an actual relationship with them. It happened to my parents.