Wanted: respect and authority

Can you spot the difference between these two statements? 

#1 – “If you eat some chili, you can have another piece of toast.”

#2 – “If you eat some chili, you can have another piece of toast.”

Do they look the same to you?  They look identical to me.  I could not for the life of me figure out why the first statement resulted in many no’s and fidgeting and furrowed brows, while the other one resulted in a nearly empty chili bowl.

That is, until I figured out the difference.  Statement #1 – spoken by me.  Statement #2 – spoken by my mom. 

For the past few weeks, Eirinn seems to have lost some respect for me.  It’s extremely upsetting.  She still loves me, I know this for sure.  She’s still affectionate and wants to be with me more than most and asks me to play with her quite often.  But I don’t think she respects me in any sort of authoritative role. 

Getting her dressed either in the morning or at night consistently results in a tantrum.  Not uncommon for a toddler, I know, but she only behaves this way when I’m the one doing the dressing.  She’s fine with Anonymous Husband, even if I’m in the same room watching.  Coming home from daycare is usually an hour long ordeal.  Eating dinner is often torture until one of us caves.

And this part almost shames me to admit.  She has hit me.  Several times.  I’m almost positive that she has never hit another adult, but she has hit me.  She apologizes and offers to give me a big hug, but that doesn’t change the fact that she felt that it was alright to do so.

I don’t know what has happened with the dynamic of our relationship.  Is this normal with children and their mothers?  I’m no slouch.  I’m not a pushover.  I’ve tried nearly everything in the spectrum of discipline.  I’ve tried reasoning and explaining why behaviour is inappropriate.  I’ve tried the finger wagging and stern lecture (keeping it brief and in toddler language, of course).  I’ve tried time outs.  I’ve tried taking away a toy or something she cherishes.  I’ve tried crying and telling her that I’m sad because she hurt me or my feelings or because she wasn’t behaving herself.  I’ve even smacked her hand after she hit me, trying to get her to understand that hitting hurts and we shouldn’t hit anyone and they won’t hit us.  Nothing seems to consistently work.

AH has explained to me that she probably behaves this way because she’s most comfortable with me.   This may be true (it makes sense), but I never wanted parenting to feel like this.  I was always of the mindset that parents should be parents while their children are still children.  Parents are not meant to be exclusively friends with their children.  If you’re able to find some sort of balance between the two, then great.  Booyah for you.  But as a goal, you should focus on parenting and let the friendship aspect fall into place.

Keep in mind, this behaviour of Eirinn’s isn’t constant.  Most days she is her usual wonderful self with just a blip or two.  She is doing fabulously with her potty non-training and the bed transitioning is getting better and better every day (sleeping through the night, putting herself to sleep, waking up very early).  She is more affectionate than she has ever been, wanting to give great big hugs and kisses.  And she is as funny and charming and crazy-crazy as ever.  She’s everyones favourite kid. 

She’s just becoming more independent and therefore more defiant and this seems to be focused mainly towards me.

Perhaps it’s a reaction towards the new baby coming.  We’ve talked about the baby since I’ve been abnormally huge, but we’ve assumed thus far that she didn’t really understand.  But maybe she does.  And maybe this change in behaviour is a reaction towards that.

Or maybe she’s just two.  And perhaps if it’s because she’s just two she’ll grow out of it quickly and not become a permanent right-holy terror. 

One can only hope.


2 thoughts on “Wanted: respect and authority

  1. My boys are just three, and they do all of the same stuff to me. I know it is because this is normal boundary testing time, but it doesnt make it hurt any less. Or make me yell any less. Sigh.

    I came via Dad Gone Mads links of love list.

  2. I think AH is bang on. It is so true that kids act the worst for the person they are most comfortable with. You are the person she lets out all her emotions on. That is why a lot of daycare providers will say “oh yes, little Susie was excellent today” and then Susie will go home and tanturm for Mom all night long. They also do things for others they won’t do for you. When I was first trying to teach Aleah to blow bubbles, no way would she do it. Then I put her in swimming lessons and she did it on day one for the instructor. The other explanation for her behaviour is phase, phase, phase! They go in and out of so many phases and she is in the “I’m going to act out for Mommy phase” and it will pass without you really doing anything about it. Also, when the baby comes (and I am just speaking from my experience) don’t be surprised if she becomes a ultra Daddy’s Girl.. Aleah was Mommy’s girl until Owen was born. Then for the first 6 months of Owen’s life, it was all about Daddy (I was always nursing so I had less time for her and she wasn’t into sitting with me while I nursed). I was sad and felt I had lost that special bond we had. But, it definitely came back and it just happened naturally. We got right back to where we were. Phases, phases, phases! One of my favourite lines, “this too shall pass”! Sorry for the novel.

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