Hello friends! As promised, here are this week’s Dear Elle advice articles all in one spot for your reading pleasure. Even if you’re not a mom, or your “active” momming days are over feel free to pass this link on to anybody you know who may find these a good time!
Yes I may cuss from time to time, a shit here and a fuck there but not too often around my son. I have been called to my son’s (grade 4) school twice because he’s been in trouble for swearing. How should I handle this?
From Pardon My French
Hello Pardon My French,
Yikes. I’m afraid I’m the wrong person to ask this question of, since I’m a big fan of cussing. Many of my followers have unfollowed me because I’m known to pepper my daily blogs with cuss words, and that makes them uncomfortable. Swearing doesn’t bother me, you know what bothers me? Other people shooting one another for no good reason does. But I digress, that is an entirely different conversation.
I was fortunate, even though I am what one might call liberal with my swearing, none of my three girls ever got in trouble for it in class. My eldest is twenty-nine and is very eloquent at swearing, much to her two younger sisters chagrin. But I’m of the opinion, as is my oldest daughter, who and what does swearing really harm? Also, my eldest daughter sent me an article that proves that people who swear have higher IQ’s, so there is that handy dandy little fact. But I get it, he’s only nine, maybe ten at the oldest, and I do agree that he should not be cussing at school. This is going to sound super old fashioned, but this is what I used to say to my girls when they would try to get away with “adult behavior” when they were too young for it.
There are actions that are suited for children, and those that are not. Swearing is one of those things that young children should not be doing. If he fights you on that, and many people will wag a finger, “oh you can’t swear and then tell him he cannot swear. It’s not right to parent a child with the ‘do as I say not as I do’ tactic.”
To which I always respond; “really??? I mean I don’t see nine-year olds chugging beer or sipping Chardonnay. Nor does anybody find it cool for little kids to smoke, or drive cars. It’s the same thing. Some things are for when you’re older. Swearing is one of those things, so you stop swearing now, or…” And then decide on a punishment that you feel fits the crime should he continue to cuss at school, he needs to know that you mean business so that he stops doing it. We used to take privileges away from our girls. You can, along with his teacher decide on a punishment if he insists on continuing in his cussing ways, such as volunteer him to stay after school to wash chalkboards, and empty wastebaskets should he do it again. Anything really that helps him understand that there is a time and place for his swearing and the classroom and playground are not those places.
My kids either love me or hate me, there is no in between. It’s either I’m too strict or too permissive. How do I find the right balance?
From Love and Hate
Hi Love & Hate,
Welcome to motherhood.
Do you remember when you were young and how you struggled to find the balance in your relationship with your own mother? If not, I suggest you sit quietly and take yourself back to your own childhood and try to find the common ground, and situations where you felt the same emotions toward your own mother in that relationship. We’re only human, we’re people living under one roof day in day out, we’re bound to have intense interactions and reactions to one another, and quite frankly to get sick and tired of each other. It’s normal. In fact, so normal that I’m confident my three girls, twenty-nine, twenty-seven, and twenty-one have a group chat together with its only purpose being to complain about me. None of us are perfect, and if you were being honest with yourself, I’m sure you could say the same thing about how you feel toward your kids some days. This is life. As long as nobody is disrespecting the other, just live through it, and don’t put too much energy behind it all. Because as long as each and every day that you wake up you’re committed to being the best version of yourself then you’re walking in the right direction.
Also, you don’t say what the ages of your kids are, or how many there are, but trust me when I say you felt this way about your parents, and it’s only natural that your kids would feel the same way about you. As long as whenever you mess up, you’re quick to let them know that you’re sorry, everything else is just part and parcel of being a family, or at least it is in my opinion. Humility and forgiveness are key to long term healthy child/parent relationships.
As for being either too soft, or too hard I used to ask myself for three good reasons why I was saying, YES or NO to my girls before I would say or do something. This helped me a great deal to slow down my reaction and to instill balance in my decision making with them. Give that a whirl, and watch your parenting become more consistent!