Is Lazy Parenting Irreversible?

‘You can’t make me!’

‘No. You’re not the boss of me.’

‘I’m not coming inside.’

‘You are the meanest ever’

‘I’m doing what I want anyways’

Lately, our five year old has been testing the boundaries, and we learned the hard way what happens when you give a child an inch. James honestly thinks he is in charge around here right now. After some serious discussions, hubby and I realized that we had become extremely lax with discipline while we were both working full time hours over the summer.

I will be completely honest… I was just exhausted. I was tired and didn’t want to have to be the ‘bad guy’ after working all day. I would try to make the effort at home, but when we were out at the park, with the neighbours, out for dinner or away on vacation, I thought that being lenient was the best thing for all of us. I was wrong. And now, I am seriously paying for it the hard way.

The other night I decided I was putting my foot down. I always thought that I wouldn’t have to deal with rebellious children until I hit the teenage years. How wrong I was. I blame myself for being such a lazy parent. I guess I just unwittingly took a break from one of the most important parts of parenting… discipline.

James totally lost his shit the other night when Jocelyn told him that the ‘one eyed monster’ was going to eat him. Instead of telling his three year old sister to shut it, he decided to scratch her back. When I separated the two brawling banshees, James went into meltdown mode and I decided that the lack of respect needed to be addressed. I put him to bed an hour early without bedtime snack.

He was hysterical. I took away his bike for the next day. I wanted to give in… but I didn’t. I felt like screaming… but I refrained. I was calm and stuck to my discipline. He told me how mean I was. He questioned if I loved him. He informed me how unfair this all way. It was unfair. Had I not been lazy about discipline three months ago… this wouldn’t be happening. Regardless, it needed to happen. We had to start somewhere.

I went to bed feeling like I had accomplished something. I don’t know what really. I gave him a kiss before I went to sleep, and hoped that this emotionally draining night had actually done him some good. In the morning, we started all over again with timeouts and disciplinary action. I felt like I had failed as a mother. Maybe my few months of lazy parenting was irreversible.

Tonight bedtime routine went awesome. There was no yelling, hitting or arguing. Everyone listened, went to bed and had plenty of hugs and kisses to give out. Tonight gave me the encouragement I needed to keep going, to continue disciplining despite wanting to quit and just take the easier route. I guess it will just take time before I have reinstated the important boundaries that once existed. I’m confident it will be well worth it in the long run, but right now it is just so hard. This is for all the moms who have ever felt like they accidentally became a lazy parent. To all the mothers that are trying to reinforce some sort of discipline in their home… you’re doing a great job, and it will get easier.


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