I would have been an excellent dictator of an imperial-era province. As a personality type, I enjoy power, rules, unquestioning obedience, and consequences to dissenters.
Knowing myself, I then became a parent.
And, with the luck that can accompany that type of decision, I am the parent of a toddler.
As you may imagine, I am not met with unquestioning obedience.
Nor do I believe in harsh consequences for my little dissenter.
Welcome to the parenting dilemma no one talks about: when one’s own style is at odds with one’s own beliefs.
Teaching children discipline is important. We all want our children (or at least most parents do) to have the skills to interact successfully with others.
I do not want my children to grow up to be little dictators thanks to mimicking me. I don’t believe a “take no prisoners” style is good for kids. Or that it even works. I wasn’t raised that way, but my personality (read: first born, control freak, extrovert) can lead me down that path.
In aiming to teach my children self-discipline, the person I’ve had to discipline the most is myself. To not burst open with frustration; to not yell and scream; to re-think, re-explain, and repeat new skills.
“You’re so patient!” I’ve heard.
“No, I’m not,” is my reply.
I’m committed to the process. The process takes time. I’m very impatient and want it to be over.
“Yes, I am.”
I don’t pick unnecessary fights with my toddler. I don’t care if she wears socks, finishes her carrots, or draws all over herself with markers. But the battles I choose, and the lines she can’t cross, are defined and the expectations are clear.
That is the balance I’ve struck at this stage of the game.
And if I ever do get to be dictator of my own little province, I’m punishing dissenters by putting them in cars with hungry 2 year olds who have to use the potty. At rush hour.