I was thinking yesterday about one of my parenting "techniques" (if you can call it that!) Perhaps you could call it the "cowardly" approach to child-rearing. I go out of my way to avoid problems. Or, anything I don't particularly want to deal with. So long as it doesn't seem to harm my children in any way.....
Here are some good examples of this tactic as employed with my bio kids. I admit they may seem a little selfish.
I didn't rush my kids out of bottles into cups. My selfish thinking was along the lines of: do I want to clean up spilled milk? My answer: No! Question to self: What if they never learn to drink from a cup? Answer: I'll teach them before they go to kindergarten.
Potty-Training: After one traumatic attempt when he was about two, I decided that until Aidan was absolutely, postively ready to use the potty, what difference if he stayed in diapers? Did I really want to be interrupted in the middle of the mall by requests to go to the potty? Once again, I queried, "Will he go to school in diapers?" My answer: Unlikely.
I also made a vow (and how could I have been this wise???) to never, ever buy anything from the checkout lane at the grocery store. I think during my single days I'd had enough experience seeing the miserable and oh-so-common scenario: Child grabs candy bar and asks if he can have it. Mom says "No!" Child whines. Mom repeats "No!" Child whines more loudly and manhandles candy bar. Mom grabs candy bar (and sometimes child) and nearly screams, "NO! You can't have candy!" Child gets louder. Mother spanks, yanks or slaps child, screaming "No, candy!" Child whimpers. Mother says, "Oh, OK!" and gives the child candy. I decided to avoid all chance of this ever occuring by making it clear to my kids that while other people might buy such things, in our family it would never, never, and I mean never happen. And it never did.
Here's where it really gets cruel. I also noticed families where the kids always seemed to be whining and begging to "go to McDonald's". I was more of a food-purist when Aidan and Lydia were little and certainly had no desire to create McDonald's addicts out of them. So, step one was to never once get them a "Happy Meal". Now, it really wasn't long before my own hankering for fries did take us to McDonald's, but I resented this marketing giant's manipulation of my kids, and firmly continued to resist allowing them to connect food and toys. If someone mentioned a "toy" I'd ask "What do you mean, toy? I thought we were here for lunch! If you don't want to eat, but want to play, we can leave." [I do think my older kids still like me - though I must say I've softened up enough that this sounds a little mean, even to me.]
In the long run, I think this "avoidance" strategy was better for my kids. It saved them having to deal with an irritated, cross mother. I can say I never yelled or slapped them in the checkout line, never went ballistic over spilled milk, never yanked their little arms out of the socket while running for the public restrooms in the mall....
Now. With my adopted ones, this strategy has turned out to be even more important, though it manifests itself much differently. I'll save that for another day.