Staying the Course
It’s easy to second-guess ourselves as parents. Whatever the situation is — trying to get our little one to sleep through the night, saying no to a 16 year old who wants to go with friends on an unchaperoned camping trip, insisting our kids eat everything on their plates — it can be tough to stick with our resolve in the face of a miserable child.
Most of the time, we make decisions based on some sort of information. Sometimes we make snap decisions. If that’s what’s happened, and after a chance to cool down we think that we might want to reconsider our earlier position, that’s one thing. But what if you gave it some thought before deciding what to do — and while refusing to make an individual dinner for each child seemed like a good idea at the time, now you’re paying for it with miserable, sulking offspring?
In these cases, the question to ask yourself is: have I received any new information that affects my decision? If you’ve learned something new about the situation and that’s changed the way you feel about it, then absolutely sit down with your child or teen and talk about it. But if there’s no new information, if you still think allowing a week-night sleep over is a bad idea, and the only reason you are starting to wonder if you’re taking too strong a position is because your child is moping/screaming/complaining about how unreasonable you are…well, that’s different. There’s no new information here. Let’s face it, you could have probably predicted that the response to your decision was going to be less than favourable. But there’s nothing that has changed that might make you feel more comfortable with the idea, so it’s not a great idea to go back on your word at this point.
The bottom line is: you’re human, and it’s ok to change your mind or make a mistake. But the question we should always ask ourselves before switching gears is, “What’s changed?” If the answer is “nothing”, and the only reason you’re questioning yourself is because of how unhappy your child is, remind yourself of the reasons you made the decision you did in the first place, and reassure yourself that you’re doing the best that you can. Sympathize with how hard this is for your child, look him or her in the eye, smile, let them know that you love them, and remember: this too shall pass.