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This Mom’s Reflection (and Remorse): You Can’t Teach Children to Behave Better by Making Them Feel Worse…

Mommy Labs

On Christmas my family had come over to our place in the afternoon. Within minutes of their arrival, Pari wanted to go out and play. I said, okay. Play is very close to her heart. It’s a part of life for every child. And, Pari is only seven.

But, I told her to consider coming back earlier than usual (she usually plays for 3-4 hours in our residence campus) so she could spend time with family members. She said she’ll come back in 20 minutes! I knew 20 minutes is nothing. I told her, “you can play longer than that but don’t get too late.”

She came back after 3 hours!

I was upset but didn’t express it by being angry etc. I only said, “Pari, you didn’t keep your word”. She said, “mamma, my friends wouldn’t let me go.” Well…..!

That night, after my family left, I told her I was not happy. Also said, her grandma, Uncle, Aunt, cousin – all might have felt bad. They would have wanted to spend some more time with her. It was Christmas, after all. And her 2.5 year old cousin sister – she would have been happier in Pari’s company.

I talked about being there when your guests arrive; showing that you care…

Pari may have realized that but continued to argue till I began to lose some cool. Yet, I told her how she might feel, if, when she goes to their place, they leave home without spending time with her. That hit her home.

But, by this time my tone had become a little harsh, rather than kind and considerate. She went to sleep after that without hugging or kissing me, which she does – at least a dozen times – in bed. I was awake for quite some time going over what happened; how I’d approached this event…

The next day, I kept thinking what better way I could have had that talk without sounding harsh or without sounding like, you-should-do- this-because-‘I‘-think-this-is-the-right-thing-to-do.”

I could have seen the whole thing more from her perspective than purely from mine and from my family’s? Like I wrote in the beginning, spending time in the company of adults is not as interesting for her as playing with her friends for as long as possible.

I did not bind her to be there for the whole evening. But, making her feel like she’d made a mistake by not coming back within reasonable time was not warranted. Creating a situation where she felt like she needed to defend herself from me was not kind.

As I reflected back, I felt remorse. I told her I understood her need to play and stay back longer. Tears rolled down my eyes as I apologized to her – for burdening her with the responsibility of protecting herself – from her mamma’s appraisal and expectation.

PS: As I opened up my heart, it took courage to put myself out here, be vulnerable, confess and own up. This blog is but a journal of my journey with Pari as a mother and a life-learner. As much as sharing the joyful parts of our journey, it’s only fair that I share the stories of my lessons learned; of the times when I’ve been far far away from being the mother I really want to be, realizing at the same time that only when I reflect (rather than feel guilty – which is about I, me, myself), will I create more joy instead of tussle with my child.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rebekah @ The Golden Gleam December 27, 2012, 8:27 pm

    I think the hallmark of a great parent is reflecting on our choices and trying to improve on things that aren’t working, and you definitely do that. It’s really hard to acknowledge are mistakes especially when it comes to our children who we love so deeply.

    I am not sure I would call what you did a mistake. I think a tone of voice of sternness is sometimes necessary in certain situations. I don’t think it should be used often but in an issue of safety and respect then it may be called for. An out of control yelling is another thing but I don’t think that’s what you did.

    Your girl is growing up and sometimes our kids will respond with avoiding us when they feel guilty about what they did. She may have been avoiding hugs and kisses not because of you talking harshly to her but she felt badly about disappointing you and the expectations.

    Actually, I think the unclear expectations is what may have been avoided entirely. It didn’t seem clear in the initial conversation when you expected her back to visit with relatives. Does she have a wrist watch? If she has one, you can tell her exactly what time you want her home and make the expectation very clear. If you think she will forget, write the time on her arm in marker to help her remember.

    And I just have to say how wonderful she can spend hours playing outside in your neighborhood. That really doesn’t exist anymore in the United States and it makes me very sad.

    • Rashmie December 28, 2012, 6:34 pm

      Rebekah – can’t thank you enough for your thoughtful words and suggestions. About unclear expectations, I did tell her to come back by a certain time and she normally will ask time from the security personals who stand at different points in the campus.
      Having her wear a watch will definitely help. My hubby read your comment and we’re going to get a digital watch. The analog one that she has confuses her.

      Overall, about how I reacted, I feel that being kind works better than being harsh. and, though I didn’t yell, my tone was harsh and judgmental, which will make a child feel cornered rather than understand – no matter how valid and good intentioned my point is.

      About playing outside in the neighbourhood, well, it’s not like kids can play here in open neighbourhoods. It’s way too unsafe here too. Most of the residences built in the past 6-7 years here are high rises – inside gated communities. These communities have security guards standing 24/7 to ensure no outsider can enter. They have a phone line connected with every apartment in the community and the guards will call up the homes if someone from outside wants to come. For example – a courier delivery, a guest etc. While, I hate living in a high rise apartment, I like the fact that the children have a safe environment to play without the adults having to monitor or arrange play dates (at least not for kids 4-5 yrs and up). For younger kids though, moms accompany their children to the park inside the campus where they may play with kids from within the campus.
      So, it’s customary to see kids play outside for at least an hour or two after school. Since Pari is being homeschooled, I let her play for as long as she wants in the evening. Often till 8 PM because we don’t have to bother about getting up really early to get ready for school or catch school bus etc.

      Do you have gated communities there?

  • Cassidy December 27, 2012, 9:39 pm

    Thank you for this post!!!! It really helps me, as I am facing too many moments like you shared. I am working on healing my son from moments like this.

    • Rashmie December 28, 2012, 6:45 pm

      Glad that this sharing has helped you, Cassidy. Thank you for connecting here…

    • Rashmie January 26, 2013, 10:48 am

      Thank you, Cassidy. Glad you benefited from my sharing my own reflection. Do keep in touch here.

  • Heather December 28, 2012, 1:13 am

    Hello beautiful, courageous, loving, heartfelt mother. Thank you so much for sharing this. Rest assured it is something that many mothers struggle with, anyone who cares about is trying to grow as a parent & continually improve has days like you has described. It shows you’re connected, reflective and wanting to grow as a parent. Two thoughts,
    #1 definitely unclear on your expectations and when you wanted to have her back.
    #2 like the reader above, I think it’s amazing that she gets to go outside and play for hours by herself at age 7, that absolutely does not exist in my community of Los Angeles so play, support, love and if you expect something just make it really clear. Xoxo

  • Rashmie December 28, 2012, 6:53 pm

    Heather, thank you for your beautiful comment and support. You’re right, every mother goes through such moments but it’s important to reflect, learn, grow, and evolve as a parent. I agree with the two points you made.

    Being able to play outside in a safe environment is very very important for children. Like I shared in the reply above, having gated community with 24/7 security has been helpful in this regard. Though, living in high rises is not something I’m fond of. I feel distanced from nature and earth.
    When I see pictures of backyards in the blogs of my American blogger friends, I feel deprived and sad for myself…
    Having a piece of land where I can grow vegetables is something I crave for…
    Nothing is perfect! Is it? :-)

  • Kendra January 19, 2013, 12:35 am

    Hi there!

    I have a quick question about “Mommy Labs!” Please email me when you get a chance…thank you!

  • Ann January 20, 2013, 6:22 am

    Great Post, Rashmie! I always question myself when I get upset with my kids too. It never has a positive outcome. I guess even the best moms are just human sometimes ; )

    • Rashmie January 26, 2013, 10:35 am

      Ann, true, getting upset is human and reflecting on it is humbling. :-) Whenever I take time to think about my actions – particularly with Pari – I feel like the anger/irritation/negativity was not called for. And, it makes me act thoughtfully the next time…

  • Sofia Finnegan January 20, 2013, 8:32 am

    This is a great article for mommies like me. We should really practice good parenting and see to it that our children learn the best lessons.

    • Rashmie January 26, 2013, 10:31 am

      Thank you, Sofia. Glad you liked reading about my personal experience in the mothering journey.

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