Dani Klein Modisett: But now that I'm the mother of a toddler, what used to leave me overextended and feeling a tad resentful as a single gal is becoming a lot more serious. Intellectually, I know that if I give my 2 ½-year-old everything he demands, at best he'll end up a spoiled brat; at worst, dead. The dead part sounds dramatic, but I've read about the perils of instant gratification.
Every time I give my son the cookie he points to, or the LEGOs he sneaks out of his older brother's private stash, which he dives into as soon as the coast is clear, I think of this study I read in my pediatrician's office about how not giving your child everything he wants the minute he asks for it is a good thing because it teaches your child delayed gratification -- how children who understand delayed gratification are more successful at fending off drugs, obesity, unwanted pregnancy, and a lifetime of disappointment or at least crankiness.
Now, I think about this every time I whip an Oreo out of my purse and fling it to my boy seconds after he starts chanting, "SNACK! SNACK!" instead of going home, taking a deep breath together, and serving him a cup of plain yogurt with a drizzle of honey. Of course, it's a little tough to enforce the Zen of not getting what you want the exact second you want it with a cheese stick hanging out of my mouth.
The reason I am so sensitive to not screwing up my sons in this specific way is that I am an instant gratification junkie from way back. The only thing I ever waited to do was get married, and all that got me was a whole lotta time with fertility doctors to have the very child I am terrified of corrupting. I can't stand "no," hearing it or saying it. And like any motivational speaker will advise, I have rarely taken it for an answer. The not liking to hear it is good, inspiring perseverance, a great quality. But not being able to say it, this is problematic. It also goes a long way in explaining why I am often overextended. Because if something is humanly possible to do and you ask me to do it, I'll say yes.
So I've had a very full life, but most of the time I'm too tired to enjoy it. I know there is one school of parenting that says you shouldn't say "no" to your children so they won't learn to say it to you. That's not for me. The sooner I learn to say "no" to my little princes, and the sooner they learn to use it effectively, the more comfortable they'll be setting boundaries for themselves.
|Dani Klein Modisett is the mother of 2-year-old Gideon (pictured) and 6-year-old Gabriel. She is comedy writer/creator/producer of the show "Afterbirth...stories you won't read in Parents magazine." An anthology of stories from this show, published by St. Martin's Press, is now in stores everywhere.|