I believe that parenting is primarily a matter of will. It’s so easy to give in or give up when the kids resist or don’t cooperate.
I think that much of being a good parent is not giving in when that happens.
One of the things that I believe (heard it at a school session on their disciplinary program/philosophy) is that “a parent’s job is not to make happy children; it’s to raise good people.” This resonated with me in a huge way and it’s something both Heather and I fully embrace.
I guess I should say that being good people is one of our fundamental goals. We care a lot more about that than we do about making money or getting famous or living a life of leisure or anything like that. Of course we’re not perfect in that attempt but it is something we try to live our lives by.
With that in mind, I believe that a parent’s job is to raise their children according to the values that they hold. Don’t let your kids become people that don’t have those same values because it’s too hard or too much work. Going that route is just copping out.
These thoughts all kind of came together as I tried to put my 1 year old to sleep today. It’s his birthday today and he was not going down easily. So my choice was to let him win (as it’s his birthday!) and let him stay up and get overtired and probably have a miserable day or to just suck it up and do whatever was needed. I figured it was more important to get him to realize that he is going to have to stick to his routine and nap at the appropriate times no matter what. So it probably took me an additional half hour of standing there in a dark room holding him, ducking my head back as he tried to play and grab my face and glasses and then eventually he succumbed to his tiredness and knocked out.
Same thing with our other kids. We constantly monitor their behavior and intercede whenever we see things that aren’t in line with our value system. Of course we miss things and of course we aren’t completely consistent but we try damn hard. Raising great kids is one of Heather and my main priorities so we do our best not to let things slide. We still feel the urge to avoid battles many times a day and we do let little stuff go that isn’t really important.
On the big stuff that we think is truly important though, we just can’t fail there.