This may be dangerous territory I’m venturing into. Perhaps I’ll offend or even shock a few factions of parents out there, but I’m just going to admit it: Sometimes having a bad tantrum can work to one’s advantage as a parent. Especially if your children fear that temper. Well, maybe “fear” is too strong of a word. Perhaps it’s better said “respect” that temper, and will go to great pains to avoid causing a temper flare up.
I have seen parents that are able remain even-keeled in the face of any adversity, and never seem to be annoyed by anything their little darlings do. If I were inclined to seek Botox treatment, I would be seeking financial reimbursement from those parents. The expression I make when I see a parent calmly reasoning with little Johnny about why it might not such a good idea to hold the dog by the neck … well, let’s just say that expression isn’t pretty. And I’m afraid my face might actually stick that way, like my mother always warned me.
I firmly believe that children of all ages need to know boundaries. When those boundaries are crossed, there should be consequences. My children have come to understand that sometimes the consequence is Mom having a temper tantrum. No, I’m not emotionally or physically abusive, nor should any parent ever be. I have been known to shout, however. And you know what they say: When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. When I shout, it is quite clear I am not happy. And it gets results.
As I’ve said before, Cameron is a very compliant young man. If something is expected of him, you can expect he will do it. I wonder if Cameron’s compliance is a result of my parenting, or in spite of it. He very much follows the rules, and expects those around him to do the same. He has been known to attempt to head off my temper tantrums where his sister is involved. If he sees his sister getting close to crossing the line Cameron knows so well, he will do his best border collie impersonation to reign his sister back in before my kettle boils over. Am I wrong to like that? Is it wrong that it takes a temper tantrum for me to get the desired outcome?
Now that I think about this parenting “style” of mine, I realize that this formula may have evolved with Cameron’s help. Back when I was a young parent struggling to understand the language issues Cameron faced, I distinctly remember driving home from daycare one evening and Cameron was in the backseat having his own tantrum about wanting ice cream. I was trying that calm reasoning approach, trying to explain to him the importance of eating dinner before he had ice cream, and that was only met with louder sobs. I finally said (shouted), “Cameron! Yes dinner. Yes ice cream. No dinner. No ice cream.” To which Cameron replied, “Oh. Okay.” In that moment, Cameron did what no parent should ever do. He rewarded the temper tantrum. I’m sure someone will now tell me that I should never raise my voice to my child. But the message gets across and the expected behavior is the result. Is that so wrong?