We had planned to spend Memorial Day together as a family. Just the four of us, doing something fun together. After running through a list of ideas, my husband and I decided to bring the girls to Lake Compounce to ride some rides and play in the water park. I really don’t know who was looking forward to it more – me or the kids. The girls were excited to say the least. Then, things started going downhill. My youngest (and very much 3-year-old) got a case of the “I’m not going to do anything you ask and have constant meltdowns over pretty much everything.” I got to the point where I threatened (more than once) that if she didn’t change her behavior she was not going to be able to go and that she would stay home with me instead.
I hate giving consequences. I know there are times when they’re necessary, but I try my best to pick and choose those battles. Well, when the threat of not being able to participate in our family fun day made no difference, my husband called me out. He flat-out said what I knew deep down needed to be done (but was trying desperately to avoid). I had to (gulp!) follow through.
I really struggle with the follow through. If I say there will be a consequence if they continue to do whatever it is (make poor choices, etc.) then I usually just hold out strong hopes that the threat is enough; that I won’t HAVE to actually follow through. I would continue threatening, and then resort to practically begging. I’m sure there must be at least SOME of you out there who can understand and relate to this. Unfortunately, I think my children called my bluff. They saw right through me and my threats fell on deaf ears.
I just have a really hard time with being “the bad guy” and take away a privilege. However, the truth of the matter remains that it is just that – a privilege – because we would never take away something they actually NEED. What merit will any threat of a consequence have if I never follow through? I’d actually be doing my children a disservice if they believe they can act however they want with no repercussions. I could certainly talk the talk, but it was now time to walk the walk.
And so, begrudgingly, I did what I said I would do (but really didn’t want to). I kept Emma home with me while my husband enjoyed a fun day with Caroline at the amusement park. Was I happy about having to stay home instead of doing a fun activity together as a family? That answer would have to be a big hell no! Was it necessary? Absolutely.
Although Emma and I were both upset about not going, she spent a solid five minutes crying about it and then moved on. We ended up having some nice quality one on one time together. Sure it wasn’t as exciting as Lake Compounce, but I do know the day served as a valuable reminder to both of us. I need to be consistent and when I say there will be consequences, I have to be willing to back that up with actions when necessary, otherwise I can’t expect them to take me seriously. As for my kids, hopefully this has reinforced the idea that when mommy says she’s going to do something, they know I will.