How I Came to Realize I’m the Pushover Parent

Once upon a time I was a teacher. A teacher with fairly strong classroom management skills. I would give a warning and if that particular behavior continued it would result in a consequence. No matter what adorable sad face they gave me, I followed through. Then I had kids of my own and those “skills” seemed to fly right out the window.

Lately, asking my 3-year-old to perform basic tasks (putting on clothes, going potty, picking up her toys) that she once did without a problem now often result in a tantrum or at least an attitude. Not all the time, but enough. Three warnings later (what a joke) I’m practically pleading with this child to do what it is I asked to do in the first place, because I don’t want to be the bad guy and put her in time out, or not let her have ice cream, or whatever it is I threatened to begin with. I just want to live in perfect harmony, damnit! Is that really too much to ask?

Screaming. OH the screaming! (Photo Credit: C. Corrigan)
Screaming. OH the screaming! (Photo Credit: C. Corrigan)

We had an “incident” a few nights ago. Part of Caroline’s bedtime routine is to try going potty before we take her upstairs to read and snuggle. For a while now she will insist that she doesn’t need to use the bathroom first thing in the morning or right before bed.  Just as we do every night before bed, my husband simply asked her to try to go to the bathroom. Many times she’ll kick, scream, cry to the point of gagging and call out “Mommy! I want mommy!” over and over again until I give in and try to keep the peace. This particular night became the last straw for my husband. He warned her that if she didn’t use the potty, and continued acting out, she would have to go right to bed with no book or cuddle time. She continued on and so he followed through and brought her upstairs.

Needless to say it was a miserable night. Not only was my daughter crying hysterically, but I was sobbing downstairs while she repeatedly called out for me. I tried to talk my husband into letting me go to her so I could get her to calm down but he wasn’t having it. At the time I was so frustrated and upset about the whole situation that I decided to step out of the house to run an errand. It was the best thing I could have done because it finally dawned on me. I have been a pushover parent! That little girl is smart and she knows I’ll cave. I need to stand my ground and stand united with my husband when she starts these antics of hers.

So I returned home and simply asked if it took her a while to calm down and fall asleep. What came out of his mouth next both shocked and thrilled me! Roughly 5 minutes after I left the house, the following conversation took place between Caroline (C) and my husband (H):

C: I need to go potty.

H: Ok go ahead.

C: I’m sorry daddy.

H: Why didn’t you just go before bed when I asked you to?

C: I don’t know. I go potty tomorrow.

That was all the reassurance I needed. I’m now trying hard to utilize my former teaching skills of setting clear expectations and following through with consequences. I’m not saying I’ll never cave again. Those little girls of mine sure know how to tug hard on my heart-strings. But perhaps I’ll do a better job of not giving in quite as often?

7 thoughts on “How I Came to Realize I’m the Pushover Parent

  1. Carly – This is exactly my story. I went from having this wonderfully behaved little baby girl to a 2 year old (almost 3) who is saucy and sees me as the parent who will always eventually give in. My issues is the determining the consequences. I can never come up with a suitable consequence, that I can follow through with, for the undesirable behaviour.
    I’ve been in the situation of having to remove myself from the situation and leave it in the hands of my husband. It hurts!


  2. It is so hard to discipline your own children, Carly. I had the same trouble raising you and Derek because I was a pushover sometimes. Children learn to play on that so I’m glad you learned this now. Caroline and Emma are so adorable that it is hard to say no and mean it! You’re doing a great job as a Mommy!!! Don’t ever lose your confidence as a parent because you and Jim are GREAT parents!!! xo


  3. its really funny (not funny) because I *can* be a bit of a pushover, BUT when i feel strongly about an issue, i stick to it with my boys, HOWEVER, i have the same problem that you did when my husband enforces something, i feel terrible and just want to come to my babies’ rescue. I dont mind when they are crying because i enforced a rule, but it tears me up inside when someone else does… i should probably work on that :/



  4. I’m totally the pushover parent! I admire your resolve in just walking away even if you had to leave the house! My girl is 5 and we still have these kinds of battles, all because I have given in for so long. Working on it though! Keep up the good work and know that nobody’s perfect.


  5. I agree that four is better than three with this stuff (though it hasn’t gone away yet). I’m less of a pushover but it does get to me, too. Just because I’m pretty good at playing the bad guy doesn’t mean I like it.


  6. Carly- i think from around 2 and on from there the battles begin. Usually over little things like this. I have the same episodes at my house about things in our routine. I keep saying that giving in is always the “easier” option, but we can’t always do that about some things, ie: using the bathroom before bed! some are just non-negotiable! It makes my heart hurt some days when crying is part of the struggle, and i can only hope that yeah, it will get better as they get older, and i’m gonna hold Sarah to her reassuring comment that 4 is 100 times better than this!!!!


  7. SO SO HARD. We had the EXACT same battle when Nate was 3, and like you, we had to just say “Look, this is it. You pee before bed. We all do. That’s life. Sorry.” and he finally realized we weren’t going to cave on it. It was AWFUL though, and like Caroline, he screamed to the point of gagging and told us he would never pee ever before bed, and if we’d just let him go to bed without peeing he’d be quiet. AH…awful. All I can say is 4 is about 100 miles better than 3 🙂 There’s an end in sight!! Hang in there!!


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