teaching a hard lesson

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you-can-t-always-get-what-you-want

When you were younger, do you ever remember your parents telling you that the sun and moon doesn’t rise on your ass? That is something that I am trying to get through to my oldest daughter. I absolutely love my Lexi more than anything, but unfortunately, she still hasn’t learned that she can’t be the center of attention and get everything she wants all of the time. With three siblings, you’d think she’d know the routine by now, but sadly, not so much. I’ll take responsibility for this one. I’ve always treated her like she was older and would let her do more things. The kid could already speak sentences to me when she was a little over a year old, so it seemed like I was speaking to a little grown-up. Also, two major events caused me to really overcompensate  – my divorce and her dad’s remarriage. Lex was the oldest and most affected by the divorce because she knew what was going on; Annie, Cole, and Cael were too little. I reacted by giving her more time and attention to calm the hurt and confusion. When her dad remarried last summer, she seemed to have a harder time adjusting, partly because she gained a stepsister the same age, so I did what I did before – gave her more time and attention. While I was just trying to be a good mom, I didn’t realize the problems I was causing for myself down the road. Lex felt entitled to more, and she would get upset when I spent time with one of her siblings or even complimented them, for goodness sake! Then she would whine and whine and whine. I’ve had some serious behavior issues lately where I question how old she is because she is acting more like her shoe size than her actual age. Okay, enough about me being a shoddy parent and Lex being a PITA. We’ll move on to the lesson.

The plan for this spring and summer was for Lex to run and participate in races. In the past, she’s played softball, but she never really seemed to like it all that much or at least seemed to like running a whole hell of a lot more. The big plan was for her to run the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 5K with me the day before my big race, and I would sign her up for local 5K throughout the summer to keep her involved and running. She was really excited about this, but when it came time for softball season, she told her dad she was going to play and got signed up (whether or not she really wanted to sign up is still under debate, but it is what it is). Alexandra being Alexandra, she assumed she would just get to do both activities with no issues because this is what happened with past experiences. This was not the deal that we made earlier; it was one activity or the other. With me, she cried that she didn’t want to play softball, so I had a discussion with her dad, who informed me that she told him she wanted to play. After a discussion with him and one with her, it was decided that she had to make a choice as to which activity she wanted. She told me it was running, and I said she needed to tell her dad that she REALLY wanted to run this summer instead of softball. I even offered to pay the money back that would be lost for not playing softball.

How did her conversation go with her dad? It ended with her still playing softball AND thinking she would still be able to run because “races are only on the weekend.” At this point I was frustrated. Even after the talks I had with her and with her dad, she still thought she would get whatever she wanted, and I suppose after 9+ years of getting your own way, you would think the same thing, too. Upset and angry, I told her that her running was done, at least until softball was over. She made the decision to play, and she was going to have to stick with that decision. She couldn’t always get what she wanted when she wanted it. And there was no way I was going to reward her bad behavior with more activities.

I don’t think she was expecting me to stick to this, however. I have been guilty of wavering in the past, feeling bad that I was keeping her from something she really wanted to do after I said she could do it and then breaking down and letting her participate. This week we received news from her softball coach that pictures and her first game would be Saturday, the same day at the 5K. When I reminded her about this, she insisted that she was going to miss pictures, run the race, and make it in time for her first game. Serious whining ensued. I thought about it, and I was very close to letting her. After all, she would be missing out on team pictures, which were important to her, and it would force her to prioritize one thing over another. But after a bit more thinking, the no answer stood firm. I couldn’t give in and let her do both because what lesson would that teach her? It would teach her that complaining and whining enough gets you what you want and that mom will cave when I do that.

So this brings us to race weekend. Alexandra will not be running the 5K. Am I upset about this? Hell yes! I would be completely lying if I said no. Running with her in this race was something I looked forward to since last fall when I signed us up. Then I think about the precedent I’m setting if I let her participate after saying no and after her behavior issues, and that lets me know that I’m doing the right thing. Will she learn from this lesson? I hope so. I’m hoping this makes her think about choices and how they affect her. I’m hoping that she will start to realize that she won’t always get her own way and there are consequences for her actions. And, for goodness sake, she needs to learn that whining gets you nothing.

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3 responses »

  1. Steph, you are doing an AMAZING job with your life. Stick to your guns – she will learn. Just read Parenting with Love & Logic – one of the big things they talk about in the book is follow through with a consequence & then letting the consequence teach the lesson without all the extra parent talk – I have a problem keeping my mouth shut most of the time but am trying my best!!

  2. New to the blog but liked this post and think you did the absolute right thing. I think that even though it’s just pictures it was important that she know she committed to a team when she choose softball and skipping out the team to do something else for herself was wrong. I am a local Cleveland gal and a new runner. Hoping that May 2015 will be my first half marathon – the Rite Aid 1/2. Thanks for your inspiration!

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