I tend to get down on myself for how I parent.
I'm like most women, thinking that I am constantly f**king this parenting deal up.
This weekend friends came to visit us. Friends with kids adopted from foster care. I was able to see what I was doing right and what I haven't been doing right. I decided to make this list about what I am doing right since I am so often thinking about what I am doing wrong.
What I am doing right is right for myself, D, and Lotus. I do not presume that what has worked for us would work for anything else. Also this is right now when Lotus is five--when she turns six she might throw all of this out.
If I say, "Lotus if you do that thing one more time--Plan B is what will happen." Plan B is what will happen and Lotus knows this. Is this 100%? No. Is it better than 90%? Yes. I watched our friends threaten their two year old with everything under the sun and he would just smile and continue on his merry way.
2) Time In
I can't take too much credit for this. Two of the adoptive parenting books talked about it and when I put Lotus in Time Out she wigged. Not just the crying but a total freak out. When I put her in time in--which mean I held her close and immobile as a toddler, she'd fight but after the two minutes she'd calm down and let me in.
3) Listening to what she isn't saying
"Some of the kids were bad at school."
"Really? What did they do?"
I know by her tone whether she is talking about herself or whether she is really talking about the other kids and I react accordingly.
4) What happened at school stays there.
I hope I will be able to continue this when she starts Kindergarten but for now, if she misbehaved at school (rare though that was) whatever punishment was met out at school was sufficient. I want her to feel comfortable telling me about things that happen when I am not there. If I punish her for her misdeeds--that the teachers have already addressed--she won't talk to me.
5) Intervening when she can't.
When she came home and asked what was wrong with her eyes, I thought she might need glasses. Then she told me that a kid at school had been making fun of her eyes. When I took her to school the next day I was mama bear.
6) Intervening when she won't.
A teacher started to call Lotus a little pet name "Little Lotus" and she didn't like it. She told me she wanted it to stop. I told the teacher, and it stopped. I didn't ask her why. It didn't matter. She didn't like it and that was it.
A friend told us that we used this like a safe word for our preschooler. I don't like the sexual connotations of that. We are teaching Lotus that when she says stop, people will stop. If they don't, we will intervene and make it stop. When the friends were here, we heard Lotus' stop loud and clear and ran to intervene when she said it a second time.
8) Answering questions honestly.
From the funny and easy, "What's an asshole? Why do so many of them drive?"
To the heartbreaking, "Did China Mommy leave me to be found because I was bad." I answer them with as much honesty as I can. Lotus' memory is incredible and I don't want to be caught in a lie--even a small one.
9) Daddy is co-parent, not the enforcer.
10) Accompanying her to the bathroom when she "wants company."
Also self explanatory.
11) No Tech Table
One of our most hard and fast rules. No phone or tv or screen when we eat at the table as a family. Sometimes we have to take a call (illness), but we explain that is an exception.
I credit our amazing pediatrician for this. When we brought her home she slept between us. As she grew older I was worried that we would be told to stop this. Our pediatrician, born in Taiwan, said that she and most of the kids she knew in kindergarten (the equivalent) slept in a family bed.
"I slept in my parents bed until I was 7 years old." She told me. "How my siblings happened--one who is 4 years younger than I and the other who is 6 years younger than I--that's not something I like to think about." It put me at ease.
Now it is about 50/50 whether she will spend all night in her bed or climb between us at night but it works for us. Your milage may vary.
Our house is full of books and about a third of them are hers. We read all the time.
What are you doing right?