We are taking a closer look at some of the big issues we all can face in our lifetime. Each topic will be featured as a blog series.
Whoever coined the phrase "terrible twos" must have stopped the parenting process right before their child turned 3-years-old. Seriously, because in my house, these days it seems as though the words "terrible" and "THREE" can go hand-in-hand.
At 2-years-old, my son Aiden was the sweetest thing ever. Yes, he had some trouble sharing his toys, saying the word "yes" as often as he said the word "no," and controlling his tantrums. However, that didn't matter so much because he was so small and so cute and didn't have the extensive vocabulary to verbalize his thoughts. After all, he was only 2-years-old.
Enter age three. Aiden has a vocabulary - a very big one, and one that he is not afraid to use. The boy will speak his mind and tell every and anybody exactly what he's thinking. I love that about him. Sometimes...
Other times, eh, not so much. But I digress...
Sometimes it's almost as if he forgets he knows words. Any words. When Aiden is upset or sad or excited or any range of emotions besides just plain happy, he forgets that he knows how to use words. He'll scream or jump or kick or have a full-blown tantrum - usually in public - instead of using his words. Whether ecstatic or sullen, he expresses himself in a very physical way. Each. And. Every. Time.
That is usually when I get the can-she-shut-that-kid-up? stares from people. Or the geesh-I'm-glad-I'm-not-in-her-shoes stares. Those, I can deal with. But the people who have the audacity to tell me that my kid is "bad" and "needs a good spanking..." Huh?I just don't get it.
Actually, I do get it, but I chose not to raise my kid by spanking him each time I get frustrated by his behavior. I chose to deal with being a single parent in a way that works for both my son and me.
Now here's the tough part about being a single parent: there's no one to hand Aiden off to when the going gets rough. Plus, there's no one to exchange ideas with on a regular basis, to tell me that I've handled a situation well, or tell me that I could have handled it differently.
But there is beauty in my situation. There's always a silver lining. Here's the not-so-tough part about being a single parent: I get to figure things out on my own through conscious parenting and a way that makes sense for my family. I have the joy of constantly checking in with Aiden and with myself to ensure that I'm doing the best job possible. What will I be teaching him if I yell at him for throwing a tantrum? How can I show him a better way? How can I be a good role model for him?
This type of parenting makes me more confident and competent. Trust me.
Thing is, Aiden's 3-years-old. Three. Although he has an extensive vocabulary, he simply doesn't always remember to use it. Sometimes, he doesn't even know how to use his words because he doesn't know exactly what he is feeling. As his Mother, I have to coach him through it by helping him identify his emotions and model for him how to use them effectively. This type of emotional coaching can be quite exhausting (hello my end-of-the-day glass of red wine!), but it certainly helps kids become well-adapted individuals as they grow.
And for those who say to give the kid a good spanking, I completely ignore them because, really... physical violence? Aren't we over that already? Not to mention that spanking will only teach Aiden not to do anything to get Mommy frustrated lest she becomes mean.
Like a wise person told me just last week, solo parenting requites a continual process of Aiden and me getting to know each other and learning more about each other. For instance, I learn that he expresses himself physically, and he learns that I am not a morning person so on the weekends, we don't wake up until the clock says, "nine zero zero."
You see, it's just us two. We're a family, and although we're right in the thick of these [sometimes] terrible 3's, we have to find a way to get through it together, and in a way that makes sense for our family. Not some stranger's family.
Alicia is a NYC single mother, blogger, and full-time graduate student studying Psychological Counseling at Columbia University. Her life is filled with all things pink, except for the one touch of blue -- her rambunctious 3-year-old son. Together they make a great pair, and Alicia blogs about her trials and triumphs of being a young, single mom at Mommy Delicious, where she is the Founder and Editor. You can join the Mommy Delicious community on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.
What a great article! It's so important to find out what works for you and your family and just not worry about people who act like they think they know better!
I agree that we have to remember that although our children may seem like they know a lot, they're still just toddlers. We can only expect them to behave some much. And you're right spanking is not always the answer. Sometimes, they just want our attention or need us to take the time to say 'what's wrong, mama is listening.' Lovely post as always!!
@Carla: This new "aha" moment for me is really a milestone in my little family. With every step, I'm becoming more confident as his mother. Thanks so much for the comment!
@YUMMommy: DITTO! I couldn't have said it better myself. Sometimes they just want us to pay attention to them and talk. Really talk. Thanks for the comment!
This is awesome, Alicia. I've said it before, but you're done such a great job with Aiden. Being a parent in a joint household is hard, so I can imagine how tough it is as a single mom. You summed it up for me when you said "there's no one to hand him off too when I need a break." Sometimes that's my only salvation... being able to hand Chase to his dad and say I need to take a time-out for me. I admire your patience, your thoughtfulness in your parenting approach, and your determination not to use violence to discipline him. We could all learn a thing or two from you!
omg!!! I can so relate my son is 3... and well you know the rest.. I thought it was just me and it was just my son.... what happened to our sweet babies???
@Yakini: Thanks so much for speaking the truth! I know that a lot of coupled parents feel that there only salvation is to take a "Mommy Time-Out" so to speak, something that is simply not possible in a single parent household. Thanks so much for the support!
@Alex: We certainly need to have a virtual drink with one another. LOL.