The 7 Deadly Parental Sins (Including Enjoying the Silence – See Photo!)
The original 7 deadly sins don’t scare me. I commit them near daily whenever I gaze upon my adorable daughter (pride), bump into a skinny friend (envy) or realize I’ve dented my SUV in the parking lot again (wrath). But parents of young children can fall prey to much deadlier vices. Here’s what we really need to watch out for:
1) Caving to Demands – You’re leaving Target and your child wants a cookie, but it’s 30 minutes before dinner time. You say “no” four or five times, until you can’t stand the whining and you’ll do anything to prevent a public tantrum. Later, looking at your child’s crumb covered face, it’s hard to tell what’s sweeter--the cookie you relinquished or her victory. She just turned your “no” into a “yes” and she liked it. Don’t fall for this! Say it with me: “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
2) Enjoying the Silence – Fact: if your kids are quiet, they're up to no good. But the silence is so peaceful, so welcome, that we let it lull us into a false sense of security. Is finishing your magazine article worth the fluorescent crayon mural on the living room walls? Probably not.The last time I ignored the unnatural silence, my $60/jar face cream had been reappropriated as massage oil for toy farm animals. Never turn your back on the ocean.
3) Setting a Bad Example – Have you ever been (a) Pulling a wedgie out of your own butt (b) Picking your nose (c) Flipping the bird at the Camaro that cut you off or (d) Trash-talking the mean mom at preschool…and then you realize your kid was totally staring at you the whole time? Kids only pay attention when you don’t want them to; the rest of the time you can count on them ignoring you completely.
4) Making Exceptions – The first time the phrase “just this once,” crossed my lips, I had no idea what a slippery slope it was. “Just this once” we’ll skip brushing your teeth because we’re both so dang tired. “Just this once” you can have chocolate right before bed. “Just this once” you can try Mommy’s coffee. Do I have to tell you how any of this turned out? Not well! When experts say consistency is key to parenting, it’s because if you give an inch, kids take 238,857 miles, as in all the way to the moon and back (thanks Big Nutbrown Hare for that one).
5) Abdicating the Throne – When I first read the parenting books, I bristled at words like “discipline” and “authoritative.” Instead of laying down the law, I was going to be one of those nurturing moms who gave kids input. Great concept until I tried it on my toddler. Given a choice between cereal and eggs, she’d like chocolate chip pancakes with cheese, thank you. Offered pink or yellow striped PJ’s, she tells me, “I just want to be naked and wear a crown”--which makes perfect sense when you think about who’s really in charge here. Turns out “authority” is something worth hanging onto.
6) Losing It – When you bring your perfect, helpless newborn home from the hospital, you could never imagine screaming “You’re driving me $%&ing crazy!” in its face. That’s something only criminals, psychos and reality show families do, right? Cut to toddlerhood. You’re trying to pay the bill at a restaurant while your kid empties the pepper shaker into your dessert. And why isn’t he wearing pants anymore? You snap and say something wildly inappropriate…which of course your child parrots back to you at his earliest opportunity.
7) Turning Sick Days into Christmas – When my kid is sick, my rules vaporize. She gets all the fruit punch she can drink and all the ice cream she can stomach. (She does need to hydrate.) A sick kid naps on top of me and sleeps in our bed. Her television repertoire expands from “only Daniel Tiger” to really anything on PBS, Disney, Nick, Sprout, The Cartoon Network, Bravo, E! or Lifetime ("Pretty Wicked Moms" is totally family television, right?). This is all well and good until she’s healthy again and I try to reinstate the rules, and she’s like,“Whaaaa? Don’t be silly. I’m totally sleeping in your bed forever.”