Sunday, January 6, 2013

Why are you so strict with her?

Tonight while Sweetie was tooling around the back of a meeting, gabbering on, toddling back and forth, banging her toys together and as I was chasing her around, redirecting her & trying to keep her volume down, another Mom came up to me and whispered "You are really strict with her. Why are you so strict?"*

After I got over the shock of having another Mom question my parenting (ha ha) and being offended by the word strict, I though it over and here is my two part, totally contradictory answer.

I am strict (have high expectations for my kids) because:
  • I have always struggled with feeling like if my child is misbehaving, it is a direct reflection on my parenting.  And in essence,  I want my kids to make me look good.  So sometimes I go a bit overboard in making sure they aren't bothering anyone or being too disruptive and generally "being good."  I honestly would love to get beyond this, to understand on an emotional level that while it is my job to shepherd them, they make their own decisions, both good and bad.  My self image shouldn't have so much to do with what my kids are doing or not doing at any given moment.  
  • All kids need structure and need to understand where the boundaries are so that they can have joy and freedom where they are safe, respectful and respected.  That ALL is multiplied when you've got kids from the hard place who are still trying to figure out this world.  They need to know whats okay and not okay.  And the good parenting / bad parenting line is all in the details -- of the appropriateness of the boundaries and the way in which they are enforced.  I am not always successful, but its my goal to set reasonable expectations based on where the child is at and guide them calmly with a balance of gentleness and firmness.  And I have seen that when the child knows they are deeply cherished, have reasonable but high expectations of them, understand the boundaries and the freedom they have within them- they flourish.
So for the good and the not so good I parent this way.

But, really, truly, honestly, we are all fumbling down this road of life with kids.  But if we are doing the best we can & learning as we go, we're fumbling in the right direction. 

So I fumble on.

*I just feel the need to point out that Sweetie is only 11 months old so "strict" in this context meant making sure she wasn't digging in peoples purses, wandering too far away with her new walking skills or eating every random piece of randomness on the ground.  :)


  1. I am constantly amazed and horrified at the audacity of some people. When my bio kids were young, we dealt with the occasional remark (often from family members). Since I have been fostering, it is incredible the number of people I have encountered that are so comfortable making these kinds of comments. I don't know if this woman you are talking about knows you are a foster parent or that sweetie is a foster child, but in my experience, there are certain people that treat foster children like they are "community children". They seem to do things with foster children, that perhaps, they think of as not really yours. I'm not sure what it is. But it's frustrating. And you are exactly right. Foster parents or not, we are all fumbling down this road. There is no one right way to do it.

  2. I look at people and wonder, particularly when they talk about other people parenting in a strict fashion, what kind of spoiled brats their kids are. I have discovered that 9 out of 10 people that think others are too strict, have children without manners, respect or understanding of social convention of any sorts. As a former foster child, I know that structure and understanding of expectations is important as hell... so don't over think it. Remember, that one probably has brats that don't respect anyone.

  3. Wow. Now that's just rude. Your reasons ring true though, I think I could say the same for myself :).

  4. I applaud your confidence! We just got through the holidays and the off-handed remarks, advice and passive commentary on our chosen method of parenting our foster sons. It is SUCH an encouragement to feel that you take a similar approach to us!!! Both my husband and I felt very supported by your recent post.

    1. Glad to hear it - its hard sticking up for what we believe in, but oh so worth it. And just so you know although I had all these reasons in my head, what cam out of my mouth in the moment was, "Oh I just don't want to disturb all the people." Said in a whisper because we actually were standing in the meeting hall when she said it. Oh my.


It'll be a pleasure hearing your thoughts. Alisa