Dennis always said “kids are sponges”, which was the reason he needed to brainwash us into his religious fanaticism, so we wouldn’t soak up The World. Unfortunately, he had this huge double standard: on the one hand, “kids are sponges”, and on the other hand, “I must beat my kids into being good”.
If there’s one thing I’ve thoroughly learned in the two years since I birthed Ari, it’s that the best way to raise a child is to set a good example. Here are a few comparisons:
|Me & My Siblings||Ari|
|1. Were spanked until we ate our food (or until Dennis got tired).
2. We were forced to say “please”, “thank you”, and “I’m sorry” (with the threat of a spanking if we didn’t, of course).
3. We were spanked if we couldn’t pronounce a word properly as toddlers.
4. We were spanked if we “talked back” to my parents (even if they were the wrong ones).
|1. Ari has never been spanked if she doesn’t eat her food. She knows better than I do when she’s full. It’s not a big deal to save her food for later.
2. We’ve never forced Ari to be polite, she picks it up because that’s what we do to her. (If she doesn’t thank someone else when they give something to her, I thank them for her.)
3. We have never spanked Ari if she couldn’t pronounce a word…and she’s the most articulate 2 year old I’ve ever known.
4. Ari tells us “no” or “just a second” or corrects us when we’re wrong…because sometimes we are!
Ari has learned more from observing us and the respect, kindness, and politeness we show to each other and to her, than we have ever “taught” her. We have never had to say “Say thank you!” or “Say I’m sorry!”. I would rather her show her thankfulness because she wants to, not because she’s forced. Same with her apologies…how sincere is an apology when you’re made to say it?
Last night, she was snuggling up to my back but poking me with her fingernails. I said it hurt, so she asked for hugs and said “I’m sowwy, Mommy, fo’ hu’ting you.” I knew she didn’t mean to hurt me on purpose, and that apology was actually sincere.
Basically, it comes down to the reason I told Dennis I left his house: when I love someone, I want to do things for them because I want to, not because someone tells me to. Ari’s love is genuine. Her hugs are unreserved, and her apologies are sincere. This is what you get when you set a good example for your child, and treat them with the respect they deserve as a human being. Of course she messes up sometimes; she throws screaming tantrums and stuff, but still…she’s two. And she’s human, like me…and I’m not always perfect either.
Dennis, you always said you hoped your kids would raise their kids better than you. You should take a page out of my book. Set a good example for your kids. Don’t “do as I say, not as I do” then try and beat them into what you should be doing in the first place. It doesn’t work.