November 12, 2010

In this corner...and in this corner

My kids are fighters. Not physically speaking (at least not yet, and hopefully never in a mean, angry way). But they know what they want and don't want and are very happy/eager/capable/willing to fight for it (or against it).

Some may say it is because they are boys. That may be part of it. I do find that on average girls seem a little more compliant, especially in the early years. But is certainly not an absolute truth. And, of course, there are boys who are very good listeners and very obedient.

Others may say they fight for things because they are very smart. As a mom who can't help but hope for children who are above average, I like to think this is true. My boys have both been a bit ahead developmentally and do seem particularly aware of the world and everything in it. They watch and notice everything, they don't like to sleep and miss out on any fun, they learn fast. S is still a baby, so there is a lot yet to discover with his personality and skills, but I have been surprised by how much he is like his brother.

My husband and I are not fighters. At least not in the same way most people are. We'll stand up for ourselves, others and our convictions. But we can't bring ourselves to hurt other people; we're very compassionate and able to see other points of view. Sometimes we second guess ourselves in an effort not to offend or hurt others.

That said, I do have a competitive and stubborn streak that comes in handy when needed. It came in handy when K went through a phase of fighting potty training, after doing really well for months. I kept at it and when I was finally about to give up and go back to pull-ups, my grandma said, "Sometimes you just have to let them win." That was the end of my giving up, the battle continued and I won! Children should have choices and be able to participate in their lives, but when it comes to some things they can't be allowed to bring you down and get their own way. There can be just too many repercussions when parents lose certain battles.

Sleep training is a battle. S is showing fighting skills I didn't know he had. K has always amazed us with his sleep evasion tactics.

Routines are a battle. I know this is because we have had a lot of changes in our lives and have not done well keeping up with certain rules and expectations. K has to know this and takes advantage of it. He will not pass up an opportunity to test and see if he can do something in a new way. We let him snack in the living room while playing or watching TV, then he wants all his meals there, then he wants to eat in his room, or outside. We let him nap in our bed to avoid a fight, then he decides all naps should be there, or he should be able to sleep on the floor, or the couch.

Strategy has to be formed here, and I'm working on it. I have to channel the good fighting instincts I have and suppress the bad. I want certain things for my family and myself, peace of mind and children who will be good people being two of the bigger ones.

The truth is that the hard way in life really is the better way. Good change can only come when you fight and struggle. Gold is refined by fire. God is constantly refining us, and as parents we have to constantly refine our children. Like it or not, it is the job we have been given. And I do want so much to see my little boys grow into strong, agreeable, thoughtful, polite, successful, godly men. So...

Let's get ready to rumble!

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