Monday, November 28, 2005

guilty as charged

I can't stop pondering an article I read yesterday about current parenting trends. The author suggested that today's parents are so stressed out that they seek solace in, of all sources, their kids.

In order to render the kids capable of providing such a service, stressed-out moms and dads have to simply pull out the wallet and buy a few bribes, the higher-tech, the better. It further behooves the parents to adopt a general attitude of laissez-faire to ensure the cooperation of the offspring. Additionally, any and all legal numbing techniques are advised; gorging on junk food in front of the TV is an effective tool for the whole family. The author stopped short of recommending Ridalin or Prozac.

Keeping the kids "happy" prevents them from being yet another source of stress for the parents, at least, even if they aren't exactly comforting. At first glance, the idea seemed absurd.

Yet I can't help thinking of my own situation. I constantly feel guilty for buying more "distractions" for my child than is reasonable. That's how I keep the peace. My life seems more liveable if I run a conveyor belt of bribes into my child's world. I'm buying time and sanity. If he clamors for fast food, I give in rather than live according to my values. That way I don't have to listen to his crying and screaming. The latest video game might occupy him for a couple hours tonight. Isn't that worth $50? And if I don't buy him a gift every time we shop, he might sulk. Heaven forbid. I seek solace, not sulking.

Just for today, I will refrain from buying any bribes. I will feed my child only reasonably healthy food. I will tolerate his inevitable whining and crying- in fact, I think I'll double up on my Holy Basil. When he says he's bored, I'll offer a trip to the library, a yoga session, reading, or a walk in the park. I will stick to my guns and go to bed tonight having been a Good Mother No Matter What. Please wish me luck.

22 comments:

Sideways Chica said...

I wish you the best of luck today Betty, as you enter enemy territory unarmed. Maybe you should have a bag of potato chips or some candy in reserve...just in case.

Kidding aside, I salute you. It is a brave thing that you are doing. Let us know how you fare.

Come visit me again, I think you'll enjoy "Can I Watch?," my latest article.

Teri
www.herestohappywomen.blogspot.com

allan said...

And as I always told my kids, only boring people get bored.

Let them invent their own entertainment, they might surprise themselves.

Christopher Trottier said...

Good for you. Don't open up your wallet just to keep your kid happy.

Tarragon said...

My mum got me interested in cooking decent food as a kid by involving me in the whole process. The first dish I learned to make, at age five, was spaghetti bolognase. Sadly her ability to bake cakes never rubbed off on me but I find it shocking how many people I know who left home without even the most basic cooking know how beyond how to shove a ready meal in a microwave and turn on the power.

garnet david said...

At least you know other parents are in the same pickle and have found few other ways to ease the stress. Knowing that makes it easier to be strong about what's right, not just what works.

Divine Calm said...

Good luck. I am so thankful my mom stuck to her guns with me. (And I certainly pushed her to the brink numerous times.)

Betty said...

Teri,
You're right, though- my best plans don't always fly, and Plan B, whether it's planned or not, usually is what actually happens. Thank you for calling me brave at a time when I am embarrassed to admit that I become undone by a child's whining!

Betty said...

Allan,
My child's teacher recently said the same thing- that only boring people get bored. I had never heard that saying before. When I was a kid, I refused to admit to being bored because I considered it an admission of weakness. Being a self-blamer, I thought my boredom was my own fault, and I was right, eh?

Betty said...

Christopher,
Thanks for the support. This is a tough habit to break, especially after I've convinced my child to accept my work schedule because it's my work that pays for his toys!

Betty said...

Tarragon,
You were lucky. I was never taught anything domestic, and I now struggle greatly as an adult. I'm the complete opposite of Martha Stuart. However, I do refuse to microwave- I'd rather keep struggling.

Betty said...

Garnet,
Yes, it was comforting to know that I am not alone in my problem. We are all products of the same society. Just when I think I'm more extreme than any other parent, I hear of a 6-year-old who owns and operates a cell phone.

Betty said...

Divine Calm,
You, my friend, were definitely one of the lucky ones. Please do me a favor and thank your mother. Does she give seminars?

easywriter said...

The very best of luck, it sounds like good, kind parenting. The kind your children will remember and learn well from :o)

Betty said...

easywriter,
Thank you for your support. My child will undoubtedly remember my efforts, because even when I botch it, the effort still rocks the boat of our unhealthy, materialistic society.

Sideways Chica said...

Betty...we can all become undone by an child's whining, and sometimes much less. I learned when my "whiners" were little, that there is a fine line between motivation and bribery. Not much has changed as they have grown older. But I always favored the "reward" system. Made me feel much less guilty. I made them work for the bling...I didn't just hand it out freely. I'm also big on self-justification, if you can't tell. :-)

BTW, left you a response on my site that you may want to read -- especially the P.S. about your pooch dilemma.

Ciao for now...my new friend,

Teri
www.herestohappywomen.blogspot.com

Heartcrossings said...

Teri said I should check out your blog and I'm glad I did ! Enjoyed reading the post.

I have a four year old. Upto now I have had pretty decent luck with my zero-appeasement rule :) There is not even a TV in the household.

Here's a recent post
http://heartcrossings.blogspot.com/2005/11/flying-spaghetti-scare.html

EC said...

Interesting posting....

I think I'm guilty of that myself :( I know I let him watch WAY too much tv, because it occupies him and lets me get some "me" time on the computer. I think I am going to follow your example. For tomorrow at least I will not turn the tv on and I will find something to occupy us both for the whole day. Hey, its worth a try, lol!

P.S. Great blog - I just found it today

Betty said...

Teri,
Good suggestion. And all it takes is a little more brainpower.

Betty said...

Heartcrossings,
My hat's off to you- you're raising your child the way I wanted to raise mine, with no TV etc. I found it impossible to pull off as a single working mother with no family within 700 miles. My ideals and my reality are so far apart.

Betty said...

Erin,
Yep, that's how I see it- it's worth a try! Good luck. It does help to just think of it one day at a time- I may not be able to be a saint for an entire lifetime, but maybe for a day.....

Ms Bees Knees said...

Oh-oh! Eyes are gonna roll! Hope you show him who is the alpha-woman in the house. Good luck toots.

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