Being a Parent

14 03 2007

I always thought growing up that I would be a better parent to my kids than mine were to me.  Not that I had a bad childhood or anything. Only that I want take the good things my parents did, and improve them, and hopefully learn from the bad things, and try not to repeat them. My wife and I are in complete agreement on this particular issue. We both know that childhood has it’s joys and regrets. There are things I wish I could have done, and things I wish I didn’t do. My kids, no matter how much I try, will have these same feelings about certain parts of their childhood as they grow older.

I have been faced with these thoughts over the past few days as certain events have occurred, and I find myself correcting my own poor reaction.  I try to instill some respect amongst my kids for me and their mom by applying discipline. If I tell Eliana to do something, and she doesn’t do it, then she knows the punishment (usually some bad girl points).  This evening, while a little amusing, is not the reaction I wanted out of her. I asked her to clean the upstairs playroom because there were toys all over the floor. I know that she didn’t make all of the mess and I have seen her younger sister do most of the damage. Most of the time I acknowledge to Eliana that she did not make the mess, but she would get “good girl points” if she helped to clean them up.  She usually complies, as she did this evening.  But, as I told her to put some clothing to the laundry basket, she went to another room (where the laundry basket was) where her mom was sitting there playing with her sister. She heard Eliana say “Daddy gets bad girl points”.  I heard some of this too.  As I walked in the room, I stood tall and intimidating, and asked her what she said. She started to say it, when she slowly stopped mid-sentence, and slowly walked, then ran back to the other room to resume her cleaning. I was laughing on the inside the whole time, but I could only show the face of an angry parent. I can’t show weakness because she will get the wrong message. But the fact that she was bad mouthing me, maybe even jokingly, hit home. I don’t want her to have some hidden resentment of me.  As I realized this, I sat down, and called for her. I gave her a big hug and played for a few minutes. This is my self-correction mode, I guess, trying to make up for something I feel I did wrong.

I am finding it more and more difficult to be tough and firm, yet friendly and fatherly. That is the balance that I strive for, and I hope I can reach it before she resents me altogether.

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