What's A-Parent

Sometimes We Need To Say 'No' To Our Kids, Even When It Sucks

"I said, 'no.' I disrupted a quiet bookstore to do it. I got a little embarrassed ... It sucked. But I did it."

What's A-Parent is a series highlighting those who get real about the hardships that come with raising kids. These often untold stories help show parents they are not alone in their struggle, and are doing an amazing job.

Yesterday we stopped at Barnes & Noble on our way to the swimming pool so Norah (age seven) could pick out a book with her birthday money. Aspen (age three) found a Peppa Pig backpack on the shelf (a toy she already had at home) and cradled it in her arms like it was her first born. 

She chanted "Peppa" over and over while holding the stupid thing to her chest, swaying side to side, her face soft and sweet. It was the face kids are born with that make a parent melt. 

I explained to her that she already had the same bag at home, but there was no reasoning. She was three. Sometimes it works, but in that moment It felt like I was reasoning with a goldfish. 

Ultimately, she knew what was coming, same as I did. 

I was faced with two decisions as a father. I could buy her a toy she already had, something impractical, but would save her melting down at the store. Or I could take the bag from her and risk an epic meltdown.

I do this a lot as a father.

Aspen had a couple choices too. She could listen to her father, and put the thing back. That would be the adult thing to do. But she was three, and making those kinds of decisions was my job to teach her. 

It was her job to be a turd about it. 

In the end, we both ended up taking the second option. 

I waited until my wife and kids were finished shopping, then I pried the toy out of her arms, her screaming like I actually removed a limb, me trying not to hurt her, the whole time wondering if she was actually Thor because of her freakishly strong grip.

I hauled Aspen out of the store underneath my arm, her screaming in a Peppa Pig swimming suit, her legs kicking, my swimming suit falling down, crack showing, but unable to pull it up because my hands were full.

I got her in the van. I got her calmed down. And once it was all said and done, I looked at her in the backseat, and wondered if I'd done the right thing.

Clint Edwards
Clint Edwards

Before becoming a parent, I must have seen this scene played out a million and one times in a bazillion stores. But until I had children, I never realized how emotionally draining it is on a parent, nor did a realize that no mater what a parent does in a situation like this, there really is no way to win.

You are either going to create an expectation that if your child grabs something at the store, you will buy it for them, regardless.

This can be particularly difficult for a young child. Three-year-olds just want things. I once had to pry a box of condoms out of my 3-year-old son's hands because it happened to be open and he thought they were balloons. No amount of reasoning with Tristan could have calmed him down. It was embarrassing all around.

Or you end up disrupting everyone in a 20 mile radius as you work to establish boundaries with your child. 

Yesterday, I reinforced a boundary. I said, "no." I disrupted a quiet bookstore to do it. I got a little embarrassed. But looking back now, I know I did what was best for Aspen's overall development. It sucked. But I did it. 

Parents make these decisions everyday. And it's never easy. But if you are reading this, and you've faced something similar, I get it. We all do. It sucked, I'm sure. But you most likely did what was best for your child, and that's a wonderful thing.

This story originally appeared on Clint Edwards' Facebook page. Clint is the author of the funny and insightful No Idea What I'm Doing: A Daddy Blog. He is a staff writer for the very popular (and awesome) Scary Mommy. His work has been discussed on Good Morning America, The View, The Talk, and The Today Show. Everyone from Whoopi Goldberg to Sharon Osbourne to Kathie Lee Gifford has agreed with his take on parenting and marriage. He's also a parenting contributor to the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Disney's Babble, and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled "'I'm Sorry' - Your Husband." You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter

Cover image via SpeedKingz / Shutterstock.com 

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