From the Naughty Corner to the Choke Chain

Be unafraid to parent and take credit for this courage.   

“Do you want me to call Aunty and….”

When friends tell me they quote my name as a threat to get their kids to fall into line, I’m not sure whether to feel honoured or horrified. In reality, I feel a bit of both and each time, my inner voice mutters an “Awwwww… did it really need to come to that?”

When our kids were babies & toddlers we did insist they self settle, self feed, put away their toys, we had a good “feed, play, sleep” routine and yes, we used the naughty corner too. They also had an early bedtime of 7:30pm in addition to daytime naps lasting 2-3 hours. This consistency and routine was our choice of parenting and it worked for us. It was certainly not a form of torture, or punishment or intended for them, as adults to spend hours mulling over on a therapist’s couch.

As our children mature in age, self-confidence, ability & capability the way we deal with boundaries and behavior is certainly less black & white, less about action & consequence. It is because they have now learnt about physical dangers and the like. The issues we are faced with as a parent are more about differing opinions, varied motivations, opposing perspectives and contrasting working styles. These debates are grey & subjective. There really isn’t often a right or wrong. The boundaries they push aren’t necessarily going to land us all in the emergency room at 2am in the morning.

In keeping with my “Scary Aunty” persona, I would like to describe that at times, our parenting strategy today is equivalent to using a lead and a choke chain when walking a pet. We are all in agreement of our route & have set an optimal pace. They understand the physical dangers along the way. They are cognizant of the consequences of their actions or inactions. We give them their space to run ahead, around or behind us, as they please. We observe. We remind. We sound out during moments when we are out of sight or not in contact for a while, so they know we are there.

At times, however due to a lapse of judgement or a moment of unbridled passion they may veer too far from the agreed safe zone. We apply, gently and with unconditional, no-ego love, a slight choke on the chain. In that pause, there is realization, a reminder for both of us, connected by that lead. We catch up with each other. We converse. We re-group. We re-assess. And we continue our journey together. For the moment, we are still their leader and they still want to be led. Very soon we will relinquish that role & renegotiate another.

Some call it Tough Love. I say, be Courageous in your parenting. While it is not easy, we are all just doing our best. I would suggest, you consider using your own name proudly in setting boundaries and own those moments. You’re welcome to borrow my name, however for those who do, I will ask to be credited for your child’s exemplary behaviour.

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