I’ve recently been reading “You Can’t Make Me [But I Can Be Persuaded]” by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. It’s a parenting book that will hopefully fill my Mommy tool box with useful tools to help this strong willed Momma lovingly guide my strong willed daughter through this thing called life while highlighting and bringing out the positive aspects of both of our personalities.
If I’ve said this once I’ve said it 100 times; E and I are two people cut from the same cloth. She is a 3 year old version of me. Our strong wills battle against each other on a daily basis. I often find the two of us locked into the same battles over and over again. My will against hers. The problem is that I am the parent here. I’m supposed to be the mature one in this relationship and yet I regularly find that my 3 year old gets the better of me.
I hear myself speaking to her, issuing commands, and rather unsuccessfully trying to “negotiate” and I think to myself “no wonder she doesn’t want to capitulate, I wouldn’t either.” I regularly find myself fearing that I am going to shred any hope of ever having a relationship with my daughter to tiny little irreparable pieces before she even enters school. I want to avoid this with all my heart.
What do I long for? Well, I long for a slightly less co-dependent Lorelai & Rory relationship. I want a closeness with her – and any other kids that come along – that is secure. I want her to know she can come to me no matter what. I want her to know she is unconditionally loved. Period. My question has been HOW? This kid gets the better of me on a regular basis and I lose my cool. HOW.
Enter my current book choice. I generally hate “labels” like “Strong Willed Child.” I think they have such negative connotations. I don’t view E’s strong will (or my own) as a negative trait. This stubborn streak that is firmly implanted in her is exactly what will someday make her a tenacious, competent, intelligent adult that knows what she wants AND how to go about accomplishing the goal. I do not want to crush that in her. I do want to help her guide it and learn to use this personality trait as positively as possible.
As I’ve been reading (and I’m only half way through) I have been able to put SO many little things into practice that have already made my days easier. One of the things that has struck me most (and that I have been working through for a while even before starting in on this book) is how much I need to work on MYSELF. This isn’t all about molding E into an awesome little person. It’s also about molding her Mommy into an adult that can pick her battles. Be gracious, firm, loving, patient, and kind. I need to be a better person for her. I need to be able to move past my own desire to stick to my guns (sometimes) in order to help E learn to channel her own strong will into something useful.
So much of parenting is about the parent. How I react, how I respond, how I understand my child. Being able to put her first and me second. Choosing my battles wisely, allowing that outfit that makes my skin crawl slide because it makes her feel like a princess. I have to resist my own urge to push certain issues to the death so that she knows that when I do press an issue it’s really time to listen. I need to choose my battles wisely. I need to ask myself more often; if a month from now, six months, a year, five years, ten years from now does this issue I’m fighting over today really matter? If the answer is no then why am I fighting it?
One thing this book is hammering home is that my approach is everything. Deep down I knew this. I’ve been struggling with it for a while just not really sure of how to change it. What reading this book has done so far is give me some of the tools I need to do something about it. It’s been showing me how to best approach a topic and garner the best possible outcome, all the while understanding that these techniques aren’t always going to work, and sometimes we will have to do things the hard way.
Something else that has also been significant to me is that her response and willingness to comply with me is directly related to how much she values her relationship with me. It all comes back to relationship. Which is what I want so desperately to preserve with her.
So is this one book going to give me all the answers? No. So much of this process is trial and error. Figuring out what works for me and what works for her. What garners a good response and what is ineffective, while understanding that what works once may not work every time. One book, ten books, or a hundred books are not going to unlock all the secrets to parenting without ever butting heads with your child. That said, anything that makes this process a little bit easier is welcome!
Is this book going to have a significant impact on the way that I parent YES. It already has. I can already tell you that E and I have had much easier days since I started reading. I knew that I needed to make some changes in the way I was parenting I just wasn’t sure how. Now I have a few more tools that are helping my days run more smoothly. I feel a bit more capable of navigating a day with my little one. I don’t feel like every task is a struggle, and I am enjoying it. I still have a long way to go, and will always be working on learning to do things better but today I would say that we are making progress!