With #NoShameParenting, Yahoo Parenting is telling the inspiring, funny, honest, and heartbreaking true stories of families around the country in an effort to spark conversation, a little compassion, and change the way we think about parenting forever.
“Why do you get the biggest cupcake?” my daughter whined at me from across the kitchen table. “I wanted the biggest cupcake, I’ve been thinking about it all day!”
Peering at my 7-year-old who was trying her best to make an argument convincing enough that I would change my mind and give her the cupcake that I was about to eat, I let her finish talking before I simply replied, “You got the bigger cupcake last night and so I wanted the bigger one tonight.”
Then I shoved half a cupcake in my mouth and watched her little face scrunch up into a frown.
“Sorry kid,” I thought to myself, “but the world does not revolve around you.”
Several years ago I knew a woman who had a son who was roughly about my daughter’s age now. This boy — as is true for most boys — was the center of his mother’s universe. She lived, breathed, and existed for her child, and while I obviously cannot fault her for that, her son quickly learned that the entire reason for his mother’s existence was to serve him.
If that child asked for something, it was given to him with a speed that rivaled the service of a 5-star restaurant. If he didn’t want to go somewhere, they didn’t go. If he didn’t want to do something, he didn’t have to do it. By the time the child was 8, his father was sleeping on the couch at night (because he didn’t sleep well in his parents’ bed with so many people in it) and he was no longer attending school (the teacher expected him to follow too many rules). His maturity level was years behind the other children and because of it, he had no friends, and his poor mom looked as if she hadn’t sat down since the day he was born. Yet he continued to insist that his life was miserable and that she needed to do more for him, and I continued to watch his mother nearly kill herself trying to appease him.
It was rather scary to watch because for as hard as his mother worked to hold his world together, he was totally falling apart.
I refuse to be that mother.
In my house, my children know that they are the light of my life, but they also understand that my job is not to bend down and kiss their feet.
My daughter — as much as she may push and shove against what I say — is taught that here in our house, she is just one of many other human beings on the planet, myself being one of them. So when she asks to watch three cartoons in a row, I sometimes say that it’s my turn to watch something, because in life we take turns. And if she wants to have a friend over after I was up all night with her little brother, there’s a good chance that I’ll say no, just because I want to take a nap.
Is that selfish? Yes, I guess it is, but isn’t that what kids need to learn these days? Many children grow up thinking that the rest of the world will bow down to suit their needs, and that scares the living daylights out of me. So occasionally I allow myself to be selfish.
I love my kids, and as every parent can relate to, I’m happier when my kids are happy, and when they’re sad, I’m sad too. But the reality is, my job isn’t to make my kids happy all the time, but rather to teach them how to deal with the fact that other people do not simply exist to make them happy.
Sharing, compromise, responsibility, empathy, sympathy, and dealing with disappointment are what kids need to learn to be able to function as co-existing members of society. If I teach them that the world exists only to meet their needs, how will they ever learn how to cope when the world doesn’t meet their needs?
So, sorry, dear daughter, but you can’t have my cupcake because I’m eating it.
Photo: Eden Strong