Pandora is something I use almost every day. I’ve got a variety of playlists there, for when we’re feeling silly, worshipful, mellow, dancy, quiet, or happy. I love the control it gives me, to set the tone and go on with the day.
I’ve got a question for you: If your life was a Pandora playlist, who’s the one choosing the songs? You, or your child?
Many moms of young children are wearing themselves out giving their children endless choices, stressing over quirks, continually fretting about possible diagnoses and labels, and begging them to take bites, when maybe what’s needed is some plain old authority.
Let me ask you straight, Mama: Is your child actually bossing you around?
Think carefully before you answer. Because I think many of us… (including me) would automatically say, “no way… I’m definitely in charge.”
But consider– is your child:
- the one demanding to do things?
- guaranteed for a melt-down unless you let her wear the same princess dress everywhere she goes?
- the one who sets the emotional tone for the home?
- more likely to balk than to obey?
- insistent that she can keep doing what she’s doing, even when you ask her to come to the table?
- irritating your husband because the child doesn’t listen to him the first time he says something?
- only willing to obey you if you ask in the “right” way?
- given endless “choices” in order to cajole him into going along with your plans?
Mama, are you hopping to the beat of his/her drum, rather than the other way round?
A few specific diagnostic questions, to help you out:
- If you ask out of the blue, will your child immediately go and get dressed or brush his/her hair or teeth, or will there be some pushback?
- If you remind your child to get started on a chore, will they hop up and get started, no matter what they’re doing?
- When you say it’s time to put away toys, or leave a friend’s house, do you get grumping and questions, or a disappointed-but-willing response? (Remember, we don’t need them to “fake it”… but they should listen to us and obey.)
- Does your child generally go along with what you say, or regularly ask for exceptions? (“Could I not eat the _____?” “Do I have to ______?” “Couldn’t we just _______?” “Is there any way we could ______ instead?” “What if I _________?”)
- If your child is jumping on the trampoline and you ask them to get down and come inside to help (cook dinner/put away dishes/something unpleasant but needful), do they come, or do they protest and delay?
- When you tell your child to change their shirt, or wear a particular outfit, do they pleasantly go along with your instruction?
Recently, I had a child that I noticed had started answering almost every question I asked with a negative response.
- “No, I was just…”
- “I’m just going to _____ first…”
- “But we want to keep doing this!”
- “I wasn’t the ones who did that; that was _______…”
We have had to retrain ourselves to stay on his responses like white on rice, watching for issues of authority and responsiveness. And we’re seeing heartening results, very quickly, now that we’re all renewed in our focus on this potential habit of the heart. Though his responses had gotten surprisingly contrary, he’s visibly happier and more content when we expect him to go along with what we say without protesting.
The ironic truth is this:
YOUR CHILD WANTS YOU TO BE IN CHARGE.
Did you know that?
By that I mean, even if they fight and scream and kick and holler against it, your child’s sense of safety, confidence, and contentment will go through the roof when they know that there’s no getting around mom and dad, and that they are fully under authority.
- Your son would be happier, and mealtimes would be more pleasant in the long-run, if you’d just decide what’s for dinner each night and teach him to eat it with gratitude.
- Your daughter will ironically be more cheerful if she’s not given endless choices and instead is told what the plan for the day is.
- Your child will be more satisfied with life when they’re not the one always in charge of it, and when they learn to have a willing attitude that rolls with the expected, and unexpected, twists and turns of life.
Really, deep down, your child doesn’t want to be the one in charge. And your child doesn’t need to be the one making all the choices. Your child needs to learn how to cheerfully submit to a loving, faithful authority. And now is the time to do it.
Mama, don’t put the burden on your child of inadvertently making him the one in charge.
IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE:
- HAVE YOU BEEN GIVING TOO MANY CHOICES? TOO MUCH FREEDOM?
- Have you noticed this tendency for children to grab control but then be monumentally dissatisfied and perpetually grumpy once they have control?
Other articles on this topic you DON’T want to miss:
- When the Person That “Wears the Pants in the Family” is a Size 2T
- Do Your Kids Recognize Your Authority?
- Are You Letting Your Kids Walk All Over You?