I will be the first to tell you that I am a rookie mama. I have one child, so that means I’ve had no previous children to serve as guinea pigs in parenting. Little One is it. It’s trial and error for me.
Though I’ve read countless books on parenting and child-rearing and have done ample research (the two child psychology courses I took in university don’t count anymore, do they?), nothing any book or parenting workshop contained could have ever prepared me for the real life situations.
Sure, in theory I felt I knew it all (or enough to get by without causing my kid to have to seek therapy when she is older). The truth is, most of the time I just trust my instincts, and most of the time they are right. The rest of the time, I wing it.
One of the things I have always been firm on was following through. Empty threats do absolutely nothing except teach a child that you will not follow through. Let me first say that I do not like the term “empty threats”. I don’t like the negative connotation the term conveys. I do not like the word “threat” when parenting children. Perhaps “giving them options” or “demonstrating consequences” would be more appropriate. However you want to phrase it, saying you’ll do something and not actually doing what you say you’ll do is really ineffective. I always hated the phrase “empty promises do not work”, but they really do not work.
There came a day when the child all of a sudden had a mind of her own and *gasp* didn’t do as I asked!
Lately, Little One and I have been having morning battles when it comes to her hair.
She is obsessed with her long hair. She wants to have long hair, just like a mermaid’s hair.
“I want to wear it down!”
“You can’t wear it down, honey. You need to have it tied back or braided. Your hair is so long that it gets so tangled so easily.” To be honest, I’m also worried about the dreaded L word. Knock on wood, no letters from school have been sent with the students reporting that there have been issues with lice! I get itchy at the mere mention of the word!
“I want my hair long! As long as possible. Up to my feet.”
“Well, your hair is to the bottom of your torso now and it’s really hard to manage.”
“OWWWW! OWWWW! OWWWWWWW! You’re HURTING ME!”
“I’m not trying to hurt you. I’m trying to get these tangles out. Are you sure you don’t want to cut your hair even just a few inches? It will be easier to manage. It’s a rat’s nest right now!” Wait. Is it rat’s nest or bird’s nest? Do rats even have nests? Hmmm…Maybe?
“No! I want my hair long!”
We go through this routine every single morning when we get ready for school. Each time, I tell Little One that if she is going to be difficult when it’s time to brush her hair, then perhaps we need to cut it.
Okay, perhaps the statement goes more like this: “If you don’t stop fighting me when it’s time to brush your hair, then I am going to cut it off!”
Today I did the unmentionable.
I really did cut it off.
Wait a minute. Are YOU testing ME?!
“Fine then! Cut my hair!”
“I’m not kidding! I’m going to! It’s such a hassle! It’s actually the bane of my existence right now.”
We had ten minutes before we had to head out for the school bus and I just put her hair in a ponytail and…cut it all off.
I don’t think Little One really expected me to follow through. She was probably in shock, but her response shocked me.
“Ohhh! Mommy! I LOVE my new hairstyle!”
“YES! It’s so light and edgy!”
[enter my shocked facial expression here]
“Well, that’s because the back is uneven! I have to fix it after school. I just chopped off your ponytail! I can’t believe I’m sending you to school like that!”
Meanwhile, Little One was bouncing on her way to the bus stop, squealing in delight and extremely pleased with her new hairdo.
The moral of the story? Empty threats do not work because A) your kid will learn they can manipulate you if you don’t follow through, and B) even if you achieve the result you wanted, your kid will make you think that the outcome was what she intended in the first place. *sigh*
I wasn’t allowed to have long hair until I was old enough to care for it myself because my mom feared this…I think I was 10. I love that she loved her hair and it didn’t bother her to have it short. Kind of a perfect ending, really.
Oh, J! I often think of you and Maya and want to call you for parenting advice! Maya has grown into such an incredible young woman and I know we will get there with Little One, but in the interim, if feels like quite the journey! We are trying our best, but she is a spirited child 🙂 I suppose it’s not a bad thing.
She is such a character 🙂 I was not expecting that reaction at all! It’s nice to know that you follow through with what you say. We need to do that more often with our little guy.
Great post Christine.
Jason, I was not expecting that reaction either!!!
Hahaha, this made me laugh. I’m glad you followed through.
Hehe! Thanks, Nicolthepickle! I can look back and laugh now, but it was pretty scary at the time! Haha! It could have turned out so differently!
Haha! Christine, I absolutely love this post!
I imagine cutting her hair wasn’t easy for you, way to go! Also great that she loves the new haircut 🙂
Hahaha! Thanks so much for reading my post, Sacha!! Little One is a cutie and generally a really good kid. She just argues so much when it’s brushing hair time. I solved that problem though! HA! :p
the moral is to always carry a pair of sharp scissors.
i think i got that wrong.
Tee hee! Nope. I think you got the moral of the story right! 😉 lol
Anne Taylor says
lol this post reminded me that I did indeed raise 4 girls, all of them bi racial, all with crazy hair! Empty threats are the worst. As soon as you’ve not followed through, they know they have you!
You are sooooo right, Anne! Once you haven’t followed through, they zero in on that weakness and you’re done forever! lol
Friends tell me I’m too hard on Little One, but you know what? She’s a pretty good kid because of it.. I also don’t think I’m toooooooo hard on her.
Proud Mommy Moment here — The other weekend we were at a friend’s house and all the kids were jumping on my friend’s furniture. I looked at Little One and she knew that I meant “No jumping on furniture. Furniture is for sitting on, etc.” Her friend kept trying to get her to jump on the couch and Little One kept saying, “No, my Mommy said no jumping on furniture.” I overheard the kid tell LO, “Who cares? Just do it. She’s not going to see? Don’t listen to your Mom!” LO walked away and said, “No. My Mommy said no jumping on furniture.”
Let’s hope these things stick with her and she continues to make good decisions as she gets older. I know there will be moments of rebellion and that she WILL do her own thing, but for now, I’m glad she knows what is acceptable and what is not 🙂
Hahaha Christine omg this made my morning! Love it so funny and you’re a superman! I love that you get things done and still sent little one to school with her hair in whatever way it finished ! Easy come easy go!! http://Www.MelbasToast.com
Bwahahaha! OMG, Melba!!! I’ve had one hour of sleep and cannot believe I sent my kid to school with her hair chopped off like that! HA! I also cannot believe that she thinks it’s funky KEWL! Ahhh!!! All these months fighting over her hair and she decides she LIKES it chopped off! I really do have to arrange a hair appointment at the salon to fix it though. Hmm…maybe I’ll YouTube it and do another DIY? Hahaha!