There's no doubt in my mind that as parents, we all do things for our kids that we swore we wouldn't. While pregnant with our first baby or watching friends and relatives raising their own kids, we tell ourselves that we'll be stricter with our own.
We'll never give into whining!
Buy another toy? Heck no!
Tie my 8-year-old's shoes? Preposterous!
Make separate meals for dinner? It's called discipline!
But let's face it. There are things we ALL do as parents that we said we'd never do. I find myself doing exactly what I swore I wouldn't: coddling and spoiling my daughters.
At 7 and 8 years old, they can be persistent little humans with their negotiating skills. I could say I'm fostering a knowledge of how to debate. Hooray, civics lesson! Yet I give in to their whining and crying at dinnertime and allow them to have their own dinners. Yes, I'll make a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich for one daughter, the other has leftover pizza, and I make burritos for my husband and me. Why?
I give in to the incessant whining because it's easier for me to make them happy at that moment than it is to teach a lesson in nutrition. And yes, I'm justifying my actions when I say that I don't do it every night. Just maybe every other day. Not that I'm keeping track.
Have you ever bought your kid off with toys to keep them from throwing a tantrum on the floor at Target? Go ahead, everyone raise your hand. No matter how many times I've said, "No toys today, no matter what," the $1 section calls out to my kids like a lighthouse beacon. "But it's ooonnnnlllyyyy ONE DOLLAR!" That ONE DOLLAR may mean I stay on just this side of sanity while we make our way around the superstore. So I give in and inevitably have a broken $1 whoopie cushion by the time we reach the car.
Unfortunately, this isn't a one-time or even a once-a-week occurrence.
The coddling is even more embarrassing. Allow me to set the scene: Running late, 8-year-old with socks on, purse on my shoulder, keys in my hand. The 8-year-old needs her shoes tied. Do I wait it out while she methodically makes the bunny ears and run around the loop, only to have the bow hanging off the side of her shoe, thus forcing her to attempt to tie them again? No. I bend down, tell her to put her foot up on my knee, and I tie her shoes for her.
Unfortunately, this isn't a one-time or even a once-a-week occurrence. I tie the shoelaces on my 8-year-old's Chucks daily. Not only do I and her father tie her shoes, but her 7-year-old sister will tie them for her as well. Yes, I know. We're not teaching her to be self-sufficient in simple tasks, but it's only shoelaces! Right? She'll figure it out eventually ... I hope.
I know I'm not in the minority. Plenty of parents coddle their kids. We just don't always admit that that's what we're doing. There's always a better, more efficient way to raise upstanding citizens, and we all have to pick our battles. I'm going to continue to tie my 8-year-old's sneakers, because for now, I value my own sanity.