I’ve realized that it is okay to break the so-called parenting rules.
I get it. I get consistency in parenting. I really do.
But you know, when that toddler had a temper tantrum in the food hall because he wanted Coke to drink , not water, it made him quiet (and thus I and all the patrons happy) when I gave him a smidgeon of Coke in his sippy cup. And, no, contrary to the rules, that son did not grow up to become a child or young adult who believed that having temper tantrums and making a fuss would gain him his way. Rather, he is a pleasing, determined young man and university student, much harder on himself than on others.
Similarly, waking a bit earlier every morning to ensure that the two/three year old had his favourite He-Man shirt clean and ready to wear, that we had rice bubbles for breakfast, patted into a pyramid shape in his Sesame Street bowl, with milk poured carefully around the edges, sounds, well, bizarre. And definitely catering to a young child’s whims. Yet that son is now an adult with a deep spiritual life, one who thinks of ,and prays for, others.
Or allowing a teen to spend a year playing video games sounds like shameful neglect when, in actuality, it was a much needed year of growth and development and maturity. And that son is currently a university student who earns High Distinctions and is very involved in campus groups at a Catholic college.
So, why did breaking the parenting rules work?
I think what actually worked was that, in spite of the seeming no rules existence, what was present was commitment, a few unbending Tiger Mother parameters ( never be mean ) and authenticity in my parenting life. I might be me, I might be imperfect, but I really shared ME.
“Families, be who you are!” Blessed Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio