Lauri recently had a post about how much praise is too much for our kids.
The question also arose about whether parents can be their kids friends.
I have some pretty strong feelings about this. Granted Belle is only 5 so time will tell how things work out but these are the things we do in our house.
I do reinforce positive behaviour to a point. I acknowledge if she is doing something well or something that I like. For example, I love walking and holding her hand. I always tell her how much I love that. Sometimes she has no choice but to hold some one's hand (such as crossing the street or walking through a busy parking lot) but other times it is up to her if she wants to.
I have always encouraged her to have her own opinion. There are days that I wish she didn't and would just be a little obedient child but I try to remind myself that this quality will serve her well when she is older. An example is how I hate worms. I don't want to touch them at all. She thinks I am crazy and always tells me that they just tickle. We tease each other about it. And she knows it is OK for her to like them and me not to. That concept has been discussed so she doesn't have to guess if it will be OK for her to disagree.
I have often told Belle that when she is not listening or behaving that it is my job to be the "meanie" as she puts it. My job as her mom is to teach her and keep her safe. That her choices will determine how her day goes. She can choose to be in a good mood and not get into trouble and just have fun or she can choose to have a bad day. But it is her choice. She knows what the consequences are (pretty much).
And most of all I do feel that we can be friends. That I can be her best friend since I will always be behind her no matter what. I have told her and continue to tell her that she can tell me anything. That she never has to be embarrassed in front of me. And there are times when I can tell she doesn't want to tell me something or does feel embarrassed. In those moments I push the issue and kind of make her tell me or do whatever so that I can show her that she truly can be who she is and tell me anything and it will be OK. This is going to be the toughest part I think.
I know all kids don't tell their parents every single thing. I know all kids get into some degree of trouble. That is part of growing up and learning. But I try very hard to make sure Belle knows that at home with me she is safe and free to be whoever she wants to be. There are so many social pressures outside of the home. The home needs to be the safe haven. And we all have bad days and home is where you can let it all out.
I do expect her to respect others and especially her family even while being mad about something and for the most part I allow her to let out her frustrations. I just tell her about it when she is not talking very nicely. She needs to work on her patience and is learning that practice pays off. She is trying the stomping feet thing now and finding it doesn't work to well.
One thing I can be known to waiver on is if I don't really have a good reason for my answer. I don't mind her questioning me for why on something as long as she respects the answer. But if I just didn't feel like it and I don't have a really good answer I may or may not change it. But I also stand by an answer more often than not so she doesn't really argue to get her way.
I find it difficult sometimes when my in laws encourage the different kids to go behind their parents back. This will happen more and more with Belle as she gets older. Right now it happens a lot with my nieces. It is very frustrating to hear about. I don't always agree with the rules they have but I respect their parents having the right to raise their kids as they choose. Thankfully Belle tells me when someone tells her not to tell me something so at least I know about it.
I know all of this is coming out somewhat confusing.
I guess in the end I want my daughter to be a strong, smart, somewhat independent girl who is also my friend. I really hope we can pull this off. I think as long as she knows "who's the boss" and we can still confide in each other we will be able to make this work.
Do you feel that you can be your child's friend and parent? How do you parent your kids?