This one is really biting me in the butt lately.
What you want now isn’t always what you’ll want later.
That’s one of my 10 Mantras for Happier Parents*, and it is killing me.
Honestly, I’d really rather just give in and make my child happy right now—on whatever it is. Lately, it’s been biggish stuff (hello, report card season), but it’s also been a pile up of all the stuff. Come back here and put your dishes away. Pick up those socks. Put that phone down. Finish your homework before watching British Bake-Off. Put on your gear and get out in the cold and help me get this work done.
I know I don’t want to raise a child who never has to do anything they don’t want to do, who never learns that there are consequences to their choices, who has never had to bounce back from unhappiness. But can’t I just let the world take care of that stuff? There are plenty of disappointments out there, right? How about I just let home be a cozy refuge where everything is done for you and your parents just drop everything and take you wherever you want to go no matter what, and you never have to contribute to the cooking or the cleaning or so much as lift a wet towel from the floor?
I just didn’t realize how hard that is sometimes, and how much I would rather not, especially when it’s not just insisting a child empty the dishwasher, but establishing what’s important and keeping up my end of a long-term commitment to expecting my kids to live up to our family values—which sometimes means enduring their anger and disappointment when we hold them accountable or refuse to come to the rescue.
It takes discipline to use discipline to teach discipline, and that’s both why it’s so tough, and why it’s so important.
Did I mention that I hate it?
Sometimes it’s about being a happier parent in the long run, not in the moment. The mantra just makes the moment easier.