And so begins the parade of "I'll Nevers"

They tell you never to make absolute declarations because it invariably locks you into doing the thing you just swore never to do. Mothers-to-be I'm sure are a tragic yet shining example of this truth...

"I'll never let my child speak to me like that."
"I'll never give in that easily to my child's demands."

So I try to avoid statements such as this in the company of current moms -- not for fear or sealing my hypocritical doom, but mainly because I get sick of jaded mommies snapping back, "That's what you say now. Just wait 'til you have your own!"

OK, I get that you should not pretentiously vow to never make mistakes. We all make mistakes. And even the best-intentioned parents mess up and do the thing they never wanted to do -- you will at some point let your child speak to you like that and you will at some point give in that easily to his or her demands. But does that mean we moms-to-be can't have some semblance of standards? Should we throw the baby out with the bath water and forsake lifestyle declarations altogether simply because not all of them stick? Sounds a lot like the sex-ed argument to me.

But I still proceed with caution. Even though I was tempted two weeks ago at church to remark, "I'll never let my kid hit me with string cheese just because he's ready to have it opened for him," I had to rein myself in. Because I might be so distracted and fed up one day that I let it slide when my son thwaps me with a dairy product. Yet there are a few "I'll nevers" I'd like to see through:

• I'll never allow my children to have a TV in their bedroom(s).

• I'll never force my children to speak to or wave at someone they're unfamiliar with, even if I know them well.

• I'll never go back on a threat of discipline.

• I'll never accept the word "whatever" as a complete sentence.

• I'll never make excuses to the babysitter for my children's bad behavior, but will instead simply apologize.

• I'll never let my children get away with deflecting a compliment in the name of humility; I'll teach them to simply say "thank you."

• I'll never tolerate whining.

There you have it. Not too lofty, Lord willing. What about other mommies? What sorts of "I'll nevers" did/do you have?


"Molly McGee" said...

The "I nevers." I shudder at their very mention. They are such a set up for disaster and disappointment; and of course I have novel full of them. I don't want to jinx myself, so I'm just going to address yours:

Tv in the bedroom: right on board with you there. And that's something that is easier to stick to your guns about than the day-to-day things like, let's say, oh I don't know, discipline. To say you'll NEVER go back on a discipline threat. Wow. First of all, a lot of punishments are thought up when the parent/caretaker is in the heat of the moment and angry. So a lot of times they don't fit the crime. Even though it can be a slippery slope going back on the harshness of a punishment, sometimes it has to be done. Or you'll just feel guilty about it for the rest of the day/week/month/year/your child's life. But I agree with your general philosphy. I would venture to say that 80%, if not higher, of parents out there raise their children on empty threats these days. Kids of course eat this up, because it makes their parents easy to manipulate and gives them a lot of control. This is really sad and scary when you think about the fact that these children are people, and will one day have to function as members of society.

Now onto this whole not making your kid acknowledge strangers thing. Hmmm. I get it from your perspective. You were one of THE most painfully shy children ever, and I remember this as your younger sister. So of cousre you will be more sensitive to this than I. But I think there is something to be said for manners. For having your kids say "Hello, nice to meet you" when you run into someone you know. I'm not saying force an entire conversation, but acknowledging the presence of another adult isn't asking a lot. I also get really, really annoyed by shy kids. So there's that.

Whew. This is more like a post than a comment.

bryan said...

Those who say "I'll Never... " before they have kids generally eat some of those words later. How do I know? Well, after welcoming son #4 into the world, I can't eat one more word.

Not one.

I'm chock full.

Good luck.

Posh Mama said...

I too am with you on the Tv in rooms. I also will not allow a computer in their rooms either, at least not one with internet. My kids will also "never" spend the night at someones house whose parents I have not met or spent some time with.

I know how discipline can go, and by the time our third bundle of joy got here, I went through a period of threatening and not following through I was so TIRED! We are back on track though.

girlfriday said...

I was a little surprised by the "never go back on threats" comment, and agree with Mz. McGee. But I bet, after reading what she wrote, you do too.

You gotta have standards; you gotta start somewhere.

Mine is, I will never let my kid watch the Disney Channel.

Tiner--Wow, I hardly know you. I just realized that, reading your comments. I mean, your whole world was so different than mine. YOu were the little sister; I was the big one. You saw everything through a totally different lense! Come over and have a cup of coffee. I want to get to know you better.

elphaba said...

GF, after your whole "no Disney channel comment, I'm not sure Molly will want to have coffee with you...unless you were being facetious.

Wow, this is a big topic for me.

First of all, I would change the word "jaded" to "evolved." =)

Secondly, totally agree about the TV in the bedroom.

Regarding "I nevers" in general: If I could go back in time, I would choose very careful only a select handful.
Then I would change the rest to "I think I will try to..." This will allow more room for feeling successful and that you haven't compromised your ideals. =)
I think a couple of my big ones are I would much rather have someone say of me that I was too strict, than "Those children are out of control."
Also, I'm a sucker for good table manners. Especially, when dining out and especially when it comes to getting up and down from the chair a gazillion times.

Lois E. Lane said...

"That's good advice, Marty." Molly your thoughts are much appreciated. Your point about going back on a threat makes sense. Perhaps I'll alter that "never" to apply toward our house rules -- ones that are established. And just to ease your worried mind, I don't mean I will teach my children that it's OK to be impolite and not talk to grown-ups. But I will introduce them to the person I'm speaking to and they can say "nice to meet you, etc." I just meant I don't want them to have to wave or say "hi" right off the bat to people who are strangers to them. Thanks for the insight, elphaba!

JEB said...

Lois - we just talked about some of this. I'm sure I said, "I'll never let my kid act up in public." Ha, ha, ha, ha. Right.

And I'm sure I thought I'd never let my kid sass me. Again. Ha, ha, ha, ha.

Elphaba, as for being too strict rather than letting someone think your kids are out of control - what if your kids aren't out of control, but some uptight person just thinks they are. Someone who might not even have kids.

Why would you rather be too hard on your kids, than let someone you don't even know think you are being too soft. I get your point. But now that I have two children, I see some behaviour not as "out of control," but rather "childlike." They are, in fact, children.

I remember that before I had children I used to look at parents with screaming kids on airplanes and think, "Seriously? Get your kid under control." And then I had a child who screamed for nearly 20 minutes on an airplane and I couldn't do a thing about it. He was a baby. What was I supposed to do - stick a sock in his mouth? Suffocate him?

It's so easy when you aren't a parent to come up with these. I did, I do, I will continue to.

And I agree completely with setting standards.

But as Elphaba said, perhaps saying, "I'm really going to try," would leave more room for not only feeling successful, but being successful.

elphaba said...

I don't want the end all standard of my parenting to be based on other's opinions.
When there are situations where my child's behavior is disruptive, distracting, or obnoxious (within a normal range - I'm not referring to people with unreasonably high standards) I want to correct that behavior and help my child see how his/her behavior affects other people.
Admittedly, I do need to identify more situations as "childish" behavior and let it be. This is very difficult because I find a lot of childish behaviors highly annoying. I'm just not silly enough to appreciate it....I guess. =)

Missy said...

Oh, I had so many "I wills". Such as, "I will breastfeed for a year" (someone forgot to tell my boobs to mind) "I will have my child sleeping all night by such and such an age" (hahahaha)

So, I think you have to limit your "I wills" and turn them into "I would like to parent in this way, but I go into it fully understanding that this specific goal in no way determines if I am a good mother or not." Otherwise, you will just beat yourself up with guilt - which hopefully God will use to mold you and shape you into the mother HE wills you to be.

Well that was a tangent.

Discipline is such a hard, hard subject. You get this kid and kind of get things figured out and then Kid 2 comes along and NOTHING that worked with Kid 1 works with Kid 2. And vice versa. It's all trial and error - lots of error - and survival of the fittest and most well rested. point is...never say never ;)