I had the distinct honor and pleasure of hanging out on Michel Martin's Tell Me More on NPR yesterday, where I joined two moms in a conversation about being parenting punks. Okay, maybe not punks. The host, Tony Cox (he was filling in for Michel, who was out yesterday) called it caving in. The other two moms, Today Moms blogger Jamila Bey and author Asra Nomani, called letting kids have their way with snacks, risquÃ© music and bedtime, compromise. Witness Asra's take:
Well, you know, I’m kind of going to argue on the side of caving in because I don’t think that the idea of caving in is a negative one. I think the idea that like parenting as being a set of rigid rules is not going to be true. We shift in our own values from month to month, year to year, based on what one child may be like or another one. And so to me, you know, it’s about being flexible and often times I just realize that it’s not worth it, you know, that as long as we kind of focus on important values of our children, of goodness and kindness and education and compassion for others, everything else is going to work itself out. I mean these kids are going to end up, you know, being able to get to bed on time when they’re 30 and they’re going to be toilet trained by the time they’re 15. And you know, they’re going to… everything is going to work out fine. And you know, if we hold true to the important values, then that’s what’s most important. And flexibility, I think, allows us a little bit of compassion for ourselves as parents.
I admit, I like the idea of being flexible as much as the next mom, especially when it means we can cut back on the amount of time we spend beating ourselves up for being crap moms. But er, um, caving into every little thing my kids want? Knowing that if they're given an inch on things that count, they'll run two miles with it? No ma'am. ˜Round these parts, Nick and I are the boss. Period. Here's what I had to say when Tony asked me whether caving in is an unfair characterization of what parents do when we yield to our children:
I don’t think so. I think we are caving in, personally. I think that our job, again, is to parent, and when we let our child rule what’s supposed to be happening at the moment that it’s happening, we’ve lost control. There’s no circumstance under which a three-year-old should tell you as a grown woman what to do or as a grown man what to do. There are some instances where you should chill out and relax a little bit about some things that are happening, but caving I have an issue with as a parent, because it’s our job to parent.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. At least until just before dinner, when Lila will inevitably tell me her stomach aches from hunger and she needs a plateful of Tostitos with melted cheese and taco dip to hold her over until I serve dinner. Ten minutes later.
I ain't no punk.
Check out our conversation in its entirety here, on Michel Martin's Tell Me More page on NPR.com. You can read the transcript of our discussion there, but if you’ve got the time, listen to the program. I’m using my midnight Quiet Storm voice. Frankie Crocker and Donnie Simpson would be so proud.
Flick credit: Cogdogblog for Creative Commons
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.