A questionnaire from Human Development asked me these questions. I highly doubt my answers will be popular, but it was still fun to answer. What would you say? Do you disagree with my answers? Why? I love parenting talks hehe. I can’t wait to hear what you say!
Parenting Style: Do You have a Choice?
Imagine that you are the parent of a preschooler who misbehaves in perfectly normal ways. For each of the following misbehaviors, tell how you feel and what you say and do.
1. The table is set for breakfast. Your child spills a half-gallon of milk all over the table.
How do you feel?
If it were an accident, I would be annoyed, but not too hard on the child since he would feel bad as well. If it were on purpose, I would be angry at him.
What do you say or do?
If it were an accident, I would tell my child to be more careful next time and have him help me clean it up. If it were on purpose, I would pull the child away from the table, get at eye level with him and tell him that was inappropriate behavior (in simpler terms, of course), inform him of the consequences (in keeping with the discipline rules my husband and I have in place), make him clean it up, and then act on what I told him I would do (time out, taken away privileges, etc.)
2. Your little girl is dressed up to attend an important holiday function or religious service. Before you leave she falls, dirties her dress, and tears her tights.
How do you feel? Irritated, but it was just an accident, and she’s a child. It happens.
What do you say or do? She’s probably upset also; I’d tell her to calm down, that it was just an accident, and quickly get her changed and cleaned up.
3. Your 3-year-old son is playing at the kitchen table while you are talking on the phone. Before you notice what he is doing, he has used up a whole package of construction paper and has made crayon marks on the plastic tablecloth.
How do you feel? A bit overwhelmed by his energy, but it’s nothing to be upset about; children will be children, and boys will be boys.
What do you say or do? I’d probably say “Oh no, honey!” give him new something less mess-creating, and try to salvage some of the paper. The tablecloth can be thrown away, and the paper can probably be saved to be reused in another craft project. No harm done.
4. Your 5-year-old knocks over a display of glassware in the department store, breaking three glasses.
How do you feel? If it were an accident, I’d feel embarrassed and awful for ruining the store’s merchandise. If it was on purpose, I’d be angry as well.
What do you say or do? If it were an accident, I would first of all make sure my child was all right. I’d then tell him to be more careful next time and take him with me to go pay for the broken items and display case. If it were on purpose, I would pull him away, get at eye level, tell him that was the wrong thing to do, and make him go up to the cashier and tell them what he had done. Whatever money he had in his room as spending money would go to pay for the case he broke by disobeying me, and he would be disciplined at home in accordance with what my husband and I felt was appropriate.
5. After you have written your responses, reread each question, imagining now that you are a parent with three children and you have very little money. For example, suppose you have an income of no more than $500 a month after you pay your rent: Your gas and electricity, food, clothing, and any extras must come from this sum.
Do your responses change? Slightly, but not too much. I believe that as a [preferably stay at home] wife and mother, I should always be doing my best to respect my husband by making his hard-earned money go the farthest it can go.
If so, how and why? I would be much tenser after each incident, but the fact remains that children are children. If the milk and display case were intentional, I’d be far more stressed and irritated with my child. But the paper and the dress were just accidents; the dress could be mended and the paper reused. The display case would be the hardest one to control myself and my worries under as it would be the costliest.