Sometimes a little fear is a good thing.
Momlogic's Yvette: I don't get it. Back when I was a kid, all my mother had to do was give me the evil eye and I knew I better get my butt in gear and start behaving. The same goes for my father, although with him, there was no evil eye needed -- a mere glance in my direction made me hop to it and put on my best behavior. My parents didn't hit me (except for the occasional butt whollop) but I knew they didn't fool around when it came to me fooling around. Punishments were swift and stern. The rule was listen and behave ... or else.
Fast forward a few decades and here I am, a mother of two. Sure, they're good kids, but they can also be real pains sometimes. Lately they've been perfecting the art of arguing, fighting, moaning, whining and bickering. It seems we can't get through the day without an all-out brawl breaking out. I've done everything in my power to get things under control. But for some reason, I just don't have the same control over them that my parents had over me. Unlike my own childhood, my kids are not afraid of me. And that pisses me off sometimes.
It's not like I want them to shake in their shoes when they see me, of course not. I love being the warm and fuzzy mommy, the one the kids want to cuddle up with or run to when they have a boo boo. But there's something wrong when I can't seem to get them to listen or stop misbehaving without screaming like a banshee or threatening to throw away every single toy they own. It's not like I'm making idle threats here -- several Barbies and even Bakugans have gone missing in my efforts to get my kids to behave.
My husband doesn't seem to have the same problem. The kids virtually stand at attention when he reprimands them. He says my problem is that I give too many warnings, that I'm not tough enough from the beginning. Add that to the feedback I got from one friend who says I'm too tough ... my head is spinning while my kids are spiraling out of control.
Here's the thing -- more than anything, I want my kids to respect me. I want them to listen to what I say because it's the right thing to do, not because they're afraid I'll bring out the garbage bag and clear out their toy chest or because they may get spanked (no, I don't spank -- but I have to admit that lately I've been tempted a few times.)
When we were kids it was black and white. Parents were to be listened to and even feared sometimes. They made the rules and we followed them, it was as simple as that. Today, we teach our kids to use their words and talk to us about their feelings and motivations, even if that means listening to them give a half hour monologue on why they went ahead and gave their sister a wedgie even when we warned them not to.
Sometimes I wish we still did things the old-fashioned way. I know we've come a long way -- our kids will be better off because of what we've learned. But I have to admit, there are some days I'd be happy to trade in a little respect for a whole lotta fear. Sometimes I would have to agree with my mother, those were indeed the good old days.