C’est moi qui décide!
So says one of my favorite tenets of Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bebe. “It is me who decides!”
Maybe I’m a little power hungry. Maybe I enjoy lording my position of power over my kiddo. Maybe, but I do know that I want to be the authority in her life (along with my husband of course). I don’t want to cede my power to too many people or situations. I do want my daughter to have some power of her own, but in most situations, I want to have the final say!
Let me show you what I mean. Once upon a time I was on a bus in San Francisco. There was a mom and a kid sitting at the front of the bus. I didn’t hear any fuss from the kid, but the mom began telling the kid that he needed to sit down. She repeated this directive about a dozen times, growing louder every time (eventually it became clear that the mom was the one making the scene, not the kiddo). Since she did not feel that the child was heeding her, she began to up her game. She asked the kid if he wanted to get off the bus. She told him that the bus driver would have to stop if he didn’t do as she said. She said that the bus driver would have to call the police & they would have to come to address his misbehavior. Luckily my stop came before I could cringe anymore at her totally outlandish tactics.
This mom was needlessly giving her power away. She was not the authority for her child. She was trying to make other people be the authorities. Besides being very unrealistic (“Uh yes, is this 911? I’d like to report a non-compliant child. He just won’t sit down!”) and impossible to enforce, these ‘threats’ show your kids that you are not to be taken seriously. Maybe a police officer or the bus driver will be taken seriously, but not you. If you need backup (other than the united front that hopefully exists between your co-parent(s) and yourself), it might be time to double-down & become the authority that your kid needs you to be.
When visiting a friend’s house, they may say that it’s perfectly all right for your child to hang from the light fixtures. Great! Thank you! But my kid won’t be doing that because that’s not behavior that I want them to exhibit no matter where we are. It’s me who decides!
While out for lunch with friends, your child reaches over to another’s plate and takes something without asking (this one just happened & I was not quick enough to catch it!). Your friend, very kindly, says that it’s quite all right for them to share with your kiddo. But you don’t want this behavior to become de rigueur no matter how kind the offer is. I say no to stealing from someone else’s plate without asking. It’s me who decides!
I don’t want my child’s behavior to be dependent on the “rules” of the surroundings. Yes of course there are certain places and situations that require or negate certain rules. But there are no places where it’s ok not to listen to me or to be rude or to whine excessively. And I’m the one who decided that!
Because I have the power! I have the backbone! I have the belief in myself & my authority! I have the ability to follow through! I say what I mean! I mean what I say! And I say that it’s me who decides!