I consider myself an optimistic realist when it comes to parenting. I admittedly set the bar high for my five children. I believe kids will strive to attain whatever goals you set for them. In other words, if I expect very little, that’s exactly what I’ll get. If I tell them to shoot for the moon, they may miss… but they’ll still land amongst the stars. I’m not talking about expecting straight A’s and perfection. I’m referring to the really important things… like honesty, integrity, and treating others the way you want to be treated. I believe you get what you give. If children live with honesty, acceptance, encouragement, and love… they learn to be truthful, confident, kind-hearted people. This is my optimistic side.
The realist in me knows that kids are going to be kids. They are going to trip and fall along the way. They may fib about something or call someone a mean name. Unfortunately, they may even make a really bad decision as a teenager and disappoint me to the very core. It is how I choose to deal with these poor choices that the real life lessons are taught.
Mary Poppins said, “A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down.” I use this well-loved and familiar lyric as a touchstone when disciplining my children.
Recently I had an enlightening conversation with my 19-year-old daughter. I discovered that, despite the fact I’ve often wondered if my efforts ever sunk in, I had, in fact, succeeded. She was telling me about how when she was growing up, when she made wrong choices, no matter how much she knew she disappointed me…she still felt loved. She said, “Mom, you used to tell me that what I did was wrong, that you were really disappointed in me and expected more of me. You know what though? You always told me that you still loved me anyway… in spite of myself.” Countless times through her teen years I doled out her medicine: I took away her cell phone, restricted her internet, and enforced curfews. Through it all, I reminded her that I’ll love her forever. She tasted simple spoonfuls of sugary goodness: “It’s because I love you that I want you to make better choices.” “No matter what you do, I’ll always love you,” “You have really disappointed me, but I still love you and I always will.” That sugar makes the bitter pill of discipline a lot easier to swallow.
As I enter the challenging high school years with my oldest son, I’ll keep singing the Mary’s Poppins tune. I’ll sweeten the medicine and no matter what…he’ll know that I’ll love him forever.
Contributed by: Kaylene Jablecki (NDM#203) Kaylene is a DDL Parenting Blogger and proud member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. Visit the Walt Disney World Moms Panel for help planning your Magical Trip. She is not a Disney employee. The postings on this site are her own and do not necessarily represent Disney’s positions or opinions.