This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.
My husband’s grandmother was visiting last January. She had been staying with my in-laws, and my children and I drove 45 minutes to pick her up so that we could spend the day with her and so that she could stay overnight with us. My children were really looking forward to having her stay with us. The morning we were to pick her up, I woke up to snow, with more coming down. We went ahead with our plans, though the drive took us longer than usual with the weather.
When we arrived, we went inside to visit with her before getting back on the road. My in-laws’ house isn’t the most kid friendly home. It’s covered in knick-knacks that no one is supposed to touch. There are children’s books, games and toys left-over from when my husband and his brothers were kids, but with few exceptions, those are also verboten. Needless to say, by the time we were getting ready to leave, my 2 1/2 year old was more than a little bored from just chatting with his great-grandmother.
As I had everyone rounded up at the door in order to get shoes and coats on, my younger son spied where my mother-in-law had stashed the old Fisher Price barn – one of the few items allowed to be played with. He insisted that he wanted to play with it and I could tell that he wasn’t going to change his mind. Eyeing my grandmother-in-law zipping up her coat, I took a breath and told him we could spare a couple of minutes for him to play.
I’m certain my husband’s grandmother didn’t approve. While she is one of the few (only?) relatives on that side of the family who supports us in our choices, she is still from a generation who believes that children should do as they are told without question. I imagined what she could be thinking during those minutes. I took another breath and smiled at my children, reminding myself that it didn’t matter what she thought. I was determined to do what was best for my children, and my relationship with my son was more important than what she might possibly think.
After a couple of minutes, I asked my son if he could make the animals walk into the barn. He cheerfully walked each animal into the barn, one at a time. Then I asked if the vehicles could drive into the barn, to which I heard a resounding, “No!” This was quickly followed by, “The people need to drive them in.” He then proceeded to have the people drive the animals into the barn, packed up the barn, and neatly put it away before asking for help with his shoes.
Had I insisted that we needed to leave right that second, the result would have been a power struggle between the two of us. By focusing on my child’s needs instead of what my grandmother-in-law might have been thinking, I not only avoided any power struggle, but I once again cemented trust by showing my son that I cared about his needs and feelings.