Our eldest daughter has always had the talent of finding and pushing all of the buttons she shouldn’t.
Today she went for the one that affected every fiber of my wife’s being and visibly broke my wife’s heart. Why? Because she wanted to lash out and hurt everyone in her path because she wasn’t happy and didn’t want anyone else to be either. What could break my wife’s heart? Going against deeply embedded beliefs on parenting.
A little background for you. . . My wife believes that everyone in our house should have an equal say and be allowed to participate in all decisions. She also believes that things should be explained and talked through so that our children can understand what is right and wrong. If an undesirable situation occurred again . . . explain it again. It is a lengthy and drawn out process which takes years to show fruits of its labor.
She and I often debated her desired parenting style. When I went to school to become a music educator, our elementary educations instructors put it in simple terms. Until children are in Middle School, they are like pets and don’t think on their own. Children should simply follow instructions so make everything Black and white, to the point and make quick corrections to poor behavior. So my style was simple. . . My Way or the Highway. If there is undesirable behavior, punish and send them off to their room. What right should children have in how I run the house? They can make their own decisions when they have their own home. In the mean time, I will make the necessary decisions to make the house a harmonious place. The benefit for the children is it is easy. They know what works and what doesn’t and our house can run like a business. Neat, clean and easy.
Today our daughter in the midst of throwing a 7 year old tantrum pushed my wife to the point where she had had enough. My wife decided to allow our daughter to decide which parenting style she wanted for the next four days. . . yes. .. she chose mine. Why? Because it wasn’t her mothers.
It is far to soon to tell how things will fair, but in the meantime she broke her mother’s heart and saddened me. Yes she has done math work, worked on her writing, practiced the piano and cleaned her room, but she cried when she couldn’t go to a birthday party with her siblings and is upset she will spend the afternoon in her room until it is cleaned.
And why am I saddened by this? My style was selected right and she has accomplished a lot!! Well. . . in raising our children under my wife’s style she has taught me all of the merits. Our daughters and son are flourishing. Yes, they can be difficult, but aren’t we all? Our children are intelligent, independent, challenging and highly energetic. Under my wife’s style we have not just raised little children. . . yes they may sometimes be dressed as and act like Miller Monsters, but they are little people and not pets.
Who cares if a room is cleaned when there is so many other things to see and experience. Lessons can be learned anywhere. Math can be learned in a thousand ways, as can writing. It didn't have to be at a time of my choosing.
I'll keep you all updated. . . but since I don't believe in the My Way or the Highway Method anymore, it will be an interesting four days.