My last post, was about love and the nice “things” we pass on, knowingly or even un-knowingly, to our children. But what about the “things and behaviors” that are less nice ? It seems like before I had children I swore I would not reproduce some aspects of my parents parenting style, but in the sweet mess of day-to-day life with a small child, it seems stronger than myself and before I know it, I just reproduce that behavior.

Let me give you an example. Today I needed to go visit my accountant for my tax declaration. Our meeting was set 3 pm. So I got all my papers ready by this morning (while having eyes all over the place keeping my LO safe) and I had all the napping, changing, feeding finished on time, to get there on time. But as I was pushing the stroller towards the tram halt hoping Zoé would fall asleep for a nap leaving the accountant and me time to go through the paperwork, I remembered that I would not be able to take the stroller up (only stairs and no elevator) and so decided that once I was on the tram I would transfer Zoé, who was still fully awake, from the stroller to the ergo-carrier so she could be on me at the accountant should she fall asleep.

I climb on the tram and “park” Zoé’s stroller next to a stroller where a 2 month old baby was crying, not really loud but loud enough to intrigue Zoé. So I adjust the position of her stroller so she can see the baby and tell her about that baby and his mama etc. Then, I set myself on a chair and start the transfer from stroller into ergo by then strapped on my hips. Zoé is snaking in all direction making the transfer rather difficult/awkward/dangerous and at the same time making all kinds of noises. (She usually prefer carrier over stroller). I am probably a bit stressed out by then, hoping we make it at the accountant in time, that all docs are OK, that Zoé will fall asleep or be quite enough to let us finalize the tax declaration etc. So after a couple of minutes of snaking and making noises, that I now experience as “not being collaborative”, I tell her firmly but gently, “enough now“. The other mother, tells me “oh she is probably just “speaking” to us. To me it sounded rather like moaning though.

There and then it hit me that I was exactly reproducing my mother’s behavior, using the exact same words in similar situation. …. Even though my “enough now” was directed to Zoé’s being “uncollaborative”, she may probably get it like the other mother got it, like I probably got it when I was a kid,  that she should just “shut up”.

So it made me think about :

1) How to break reproducing behavior I did not appreciate as a child ? First thing it seems, is to become conscious about it. Then, to remain conscious about it in the day-to-day, life despite the many demands we respond to. Challenging but possible I guess !

2) Putting attention to express myself clearly. Rather say something like :”Zoé, please stop snaking around so much. We should get you installed into the carrier comfortably and safely before getting off the tram soon and then you can have a nice nap as you like …. ” instead of the vague “enough now”. Same thing, being conscious about and learning to speak with the other party in mind. Challenging again !

3) Setting limits. I find this topic a bit confusing. Parents and educators speak about “setting limits” and I wonder how to do that. Is it something you carefully think about before hand. Something you discus let’s say with your partner and then you try ways that work to have those limits respected ? I can understand it about e.g security. My husband and myself both decided, together, we would not let Zoé come in the kitchen on her own. So now we repeat, repeat, repeat and even if she is still crawling in the kitchen, she looks at me and expects (?) me to tell her :”Zoé, you are not allowed to come alone in the kitchen“.

But what about setting “improvised” limits during that tram ride for instance. Even if I did not want to “set a limit” on her “speaking”, if speaking it was,  I would very much prefer she stops “moaning”, if moaning it was and I definitely want her to be safely installed in the carrier. With those goals in mind, perhaps “enough now” is setting a limit, albeit the limit of my own limited patience.
Is setting a limit, an action you do for the child’s well-being/safety etc, or it is something from your own limitations, or a bit of both ? Like you can afford some cool stuff for your kid, but you can not afford ànd cool clothes, ànd the most expensive stroller ànd the newest toys ànd the biggest teddy bear, ànd the most prestigious school just because your financial resources are limited. Or like, because we feel we can keep our child safe in most parts of the flat, but that the kitchen holds too many danger zones; because we are limited in our ability to keep her safe in the kitchen, we limit her. Is that setting limits ?

Sorry if it all sounds very abstract (and boring). But if it is familiar to you, please share your insight/experience/advice ….