How to Know if You're Doing the Right Thing As a Parent...

by Erica Diamond

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Spike Lee was on my mind this morning. Remember the movie, Do The Right Thing? Well, two weeks ago, I questioned myself-- did I do the right thing? This morning, I questioned myself again, am I doing the right thing? I'll get to my story soon, but first.... I've written blog posts on raising children with a backbone.

"For what it’s worth, this is what I find helpful in handling the delicate balance of nurturing and encouraging your children, and putting your foot down and being tough when necessary:
  1. There is a no-tolerance policy for rudeness. Ok, you want to stay home from ballet today, no problem. You want to eat in your tent in the basement instead of the kitchen table every now and then, no problem. You wanna stay up late one night to watch your favorite show, no problem. But we do not tolerate rudeness or disrespect. Period.
  2. No idle threats, moms. Ever found yourself saying: “Get dressed now or we’re staying home,” to which they reply, “Ok, I’m staying home.” AND THEN YOU GO ANYHOW. No way moms! Never give idle threats. You must follow through on any threat so your kids know you mean business. It’s ok to give a warning, but if they do not listen, there must be consequences for their actions. I am VERY good at this. Never given one idle threat yet.
  3. Hubby and I are sometimes guilty of this, but mom and dad must stand united. If you say no five times to a chocolate bar, and they run to daddy and he says yes, you got a big problem. Kids learn quickly how to play one parent vs. the other. So, sit down and discuss this with your significant other the rules of the house. Parents need to be united when it comes to core values, and discipline."

 

I've also posed the "on the fence" question about Tough love: yay or nay?

"Do you shelter and protect, because these are our babies, and we want them to grow up with confidence and self esteem, in the bosom of those they love, and in turn perhaps risk doing them a disservice, or do you impose a sort of tough love, giving them the necessary tools to prepare them to thrive and cope in the “real world?”

 

I even sat on the fence on a Wordless Wednesday asking how hard is too hard to push, and when do we back off?

"My 3 year old and daddy this weekend. The ‘On The Fence’ Question: Do you push to finish the hour and fulfill your commitment, or do you call it a day? When is it pushing too hard, and when should you push to not raise a quitter?"

Okay, now that you know the topic of raising a good kid is near and dear to my heart, I'll get to the story.

At my 7 year old son's camp, they have weekly overnights. They roast marshmallows, go on hay rides, watch movies, stay up 'till ungodly hours. In other words, have FUN! Last summer he asked me not to register him for any overnights (he is VERY attached to mommy). So I adhered.

But what happened? He heard about the great time his friends were having, and when I tried to register him after week-1 last summer, they were filled to capacity. He cried and cried... it wasn't fair! He was DYING to go on those overnights.

So this year, I got smart. This summer, I registered him for 3/4 weekly overnights. Two weeks ago, week 1 of camp, we packed his bag for his first overnight. Sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight, raincoat, pj's, the works. He was psyched! He was psyched! 

I kissed him as he walked onto the morning bus, and told him, "Buddy, I'll see you tomorrow after camp." He ran on, excited and proud.

BUT, 4:30PM we get the call, "Your son is crying very hard. He doesn't want to sleep over and if he keeps crying, I think you should come and pick him up."

My son gets on the phone. I tell him that he's okay, that mommy is proud of him, that it's one night, that it's fun, and that he can do it.

We talk. And then I hang up the phone.

My first reaction... PANIC. I call my husband immediately. Of course I'll pick him up. He's only seven! He's still little. Why would I make him suffer?

But then the panic wains, my husband and I talk it out, and we decide we will not pick him up. After all, he asked us for these overnights. Begged us for these overnights. And what would picking him up teach him about life? That if you don't like something, it's no problem to quit. Call mommy and daddy, and they'll come running when life gets tough. That we don't need to keep promises. That it's okay to be a quitter.

Everything I am against.

The camp then calls again at 6PM to tell us what our son said, AND I QUOTE WORD FOR WORD, "I'm 90 percent better now." :) Okay, I relax, shower, and settle in for the night.

But then again, 8:30PM... another call. "He's crying again, maybe you should get him."

And I quietly explain to them everything I just explained to you. That of course, if by 11PM he hasn't settled down, we will pick him up. But that it's important to us as his parents to teach him about sticking out a commitment and a promise. That integrity is an important tool he will take with him for life, and that at almost 8 years old, he is old enough to understand. They got it I think.

And that was that. We never heard from them again. He stayed.

It was the love and support from my Twitter peeps that kept me strong that entire night, as I questioned myself afterward. I got messages like, "It's character building," or "You're doing the right thing for him."

Well, the next morning I called the camp and they said he was wonderful, and eating breakfast and about to watch the rest of his movie. A huge sigh of relief. I felt we did the right thing.

Last week, week 2, I cancelled the overnight. He asked for the break, and after doing so well at the first overnight, I granted him his wish. Well guess what? Last week, after missing that sleep out #2, he asked to go back again tonight, for the last sleep over. I was proud. Making him stick out that night allowed him most importantly to prove to himself that he could do it.

So as I kissed him goodbye this morning as he ran onto the bus, overnight bag packed, big smile on his face, I reminded him that he can do it. I reminded him to enjoy himself, and that I was so proud that he CHOSE to return on his own. I stood and waved as the bus drove away, tears in my eyes. Tears because I know how hard it was, and still is for him to stay tonight. Tears because he's getting bigger and growing right before my eyes. And tears of pride for the wonderful young man he is becoming.

But then again, still wondering, did I do the right thing?still wondering, did I do the right thing? 

I'd love your advice. 

Erica Diamond

WomenOnTheFence.com

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