When I found out I was pregnant I tried to envision what my future son or daughter would be like. I'd spend time thinking about who I am and thinking about who my partner is and wondering what parts of both of us would end up making this entirely new, wonderfully unique human being. Yeah, my imagination at its absolute best couldn't have thought up my son. He's wild, smart, intuitive, so sweet, adventurous and, well, defiant. So, I've heard all the things parents with defiant kids are tired of hearing, as it seems to be nothing more than "occupational hazard," at this point.
For the most part, I don't mind. Unlike the random passerby at the park or even my closest friends and family members, I truly know who my son is. I spend the most time with him; I see him at all hours of the day and I've experienced all the phases he's experienced, to date; I know his heart and why he acts the way he acts. I know that while he may look like a wild man with no manners and an affinity for throwing toys across the room, he's actually teething and somewhat exhausted and upset because the one toy he really wants, is the one toy we can't seem to find. I know that if he is not listening to a well-placed "no," it's because he doesn't understand why someone is saying "no," and if I want him to listen, I need to do a better job of explaining.
Then again, I know when my son is simply being a toddler throwing a toddler tantrum, which doesn't make his perceived defiance anything more than a normal toddler reaction to a world that's overwhelming and "unfair." So, when people raise their eyebrows at my son simply being a kid, I can't help but chuckle because, well, we've all been there. Literally, everyone and every kid has thrown a fit because they aren't getting what they want. So, between knowing my son and knowing he's just a toddler, I would be pretty happy if I never heard the following things again. Yes, even if you think my son is being "defiant."
"You're Going To Have Your Hands Full"
I would argue that any human being who is responsible for another human being, has their hands full. You could have the most "well-mannered," quiet, best-behaved kid on the planet and you're still going to have your "hands full" with multiple responsibilities. So, honestly, I don't get this sentiment.
Is my child a little more "difficult" during certain days (or even hours of the day)? Yes. However, I would never tell him to change who he is, or diminish his spirit, in the name of my comfort. That's not my job as his parent. Instead, my job is to foster his individuality while attempting to guide him towards adulthood in a healthy, respectful way. Easier said than done, to be sure, but no one said motherhood was going to be easy.
"Your Kid Doesn't Hear 'No' Very Often, Do They?"
Oh, if only saying "no" on a more frequent basis could make my kid listen to me. How easy parenthood would be, right?
My kid hears "no" all the time. In fact, it's his new favorite word and he has started saying "no" to me, too. How often he is told he can't jump off the couch or run ahead of me without holding my hand when we're out in public, doesn't keep him from still being, you know, him. He wants what he wants when he wants it; he knows who he is (as a two-year-old, I guess) and he has a zest for life that more often than not, I'm in awe of. "No" isn't going to change that and, if I'm being truthful, I don't want it to.
"You Must Be Exhausted"
Well, yeah, but it's not because my kid is defiant. I'm exhausted because I have a kid and I have a job and I have a romantic partner and I have friendships and other relationships I spent time nurturing and cultivating. I'm exhausted because I have responsibilities and bills and a career that requires a lot of my time. Every parent is exhausted, regardless of how their kid behaves (and most adults are exhausted too, because procreation isn't the only way to completely zap yourself of anything remotely resembling energy).
"You Should Really Put Your Foot Down"
I know that everyone has their own idea of what parenting should look like, and I don't think that's a bad thing. What works for one family or kid, won't work for another so I'm all for diversification and a number of options that we can all choose from, for ourselves.
So, having said that, I don't think that I should blindly adopt more of an authoritative parenting style, just because it has worked for someone else. I know what happens when I try to "put my foot down" and yell at my son or tell my son things like, "Because I said so." Nothing. Or, honestly, worse: he acts out and gets upset because he doesn't understand what is being said to him or why mom is getting angry. Permissive parenting and attachment parenting have worked for us, and when I get down on my son's level and calmly explain to him why something is a "no," rather than simply telling him it's because mom said so, he listens better. So, no, I will not be "putting my foot down," as that does nothing but make matters worse.
"At Least When They're At School They'll Be Someone Else's Problem, Right?"
Raise your hand if you're a parent and, regardless of how your kid acts, you've thought the aforementioned at least once in your parenting life. Be honest.
Yeah, that's what I thought. I mean, come on; we all have those moments when we just don't want to parent anymore and the thought of someone else being responsible for our child (even if it's just a few hours a day, a few days a week) sounds like heaven. How defiant my kid is or isn't on any given day, doesn't really change the fact that while I'm somewhat scared and a little sad to send my kid to school, I'm also sort of definitely looking forward to it.
"I Don't Know How You Do It"
Hey, me neither, champ.
I've found this sentiment (even if it's said with the best of intentions) to be somewhat of a condescending statement. Like, what I'm doing isn't rocket science; it isn't impossible; my kid isn't the worst thing ever and something that I need to "endure" or overcome with heroics; I'm not doing something anyone else can't do (or doesn't do) on a daily basis. Just because my kid is defiant, doesn't make him "impossible," and to suggest that I'm doing something impossible that you just couldn't fathom doing yourself, is to suggest that my kid is out of control. He's not. He's just being, you know, a kid.
"This Is Why I Believe In Spanking..."
Like I said: to each their own. I'm not going to shame a parent for doing what they believe to be the best thing possible for themselves and their child (as long as they're not abusing their kid, of course).
Having said that, I don't believe in spanking my kid, and it doesn't matter how defiant he is at any one time, his actions won't end in me physically disciplining him. Just not my thing, and I honestly believe that it wouldn't do him any bit of good. He responds to positive reinforcement, calm tones, eye-contact and affection. He doesn't respond to yelling or physical displays of authority. Again, each kid is different so you do what works for you and your family, but don't assume that just because it works for you, it would automatically work for me and mine. Not how parenting works, my friends.
"You Must Drink A Lot Of Wine"
The popular trope of moms drinking wine because their life is just so overwhelming is, honestly, getting a little old. And by "a little old," I mean, "so over-played I can't help but roll my eyes when someone asks me how much I drink in any given evening while simultaneously looking at my kid." I can make it through adulthood without an alcoholic beverage, thank you very much.
Now, whether or not I indulge in a few libations is entirely up to me, but don't assume it's because my kid is "out of control" or "too much to handle." Nope, it's just because I'm an adult and, form time to time, an adult beverage is the best.
"It's Only Going To Get Worse, You Know"
Ah, the fortune tellers of the group. They're the best.
No one knows how "it's going to get," and if you do then you're definitely wasting your time talking to me: you should be setting up some sort of psychic hotline and making mad cash.
Most importantly, I think my son's defiance is only going to benefit him in the future. He knows when to listen, and when to question authority. He knows when to shut his mouth, and when to stand up for himself. He knows when he should sit back and learn, and when he should share his knowledge. Those things will all come in handy and I, for one, will always be proud of my spirited, self-assured, unapologetically himself, son.
"This Is The Problem With All Those 'New Parenting Techniques,' You Know"
No, I don't know.
If anything, "this" is the problem with those silly moms who believe that kids should be treated like human beings, that kids should be respected and that kids should have as much body autonomy as it's safe for them to have. If you want to blame anyone, blame me. After all, I am my son's mother.