Children as Equals?

I have come to realise over the last few weeks that Ben thinks him and I are equals.  He is often heard saying the same things to me that I say to him, some of these are lovely like the “good sharing Mummy” some are not quite as nice to hear back “stand there and don’t move” “stop that” (I could go on!)

Something else I have realised is that he has no fear of me, none. Which I think is great, I don’t do smacking, I have been known to REALLY shout only a handful of times.  O.K. and then there is the huge BUT…

What is the correct relationship between parent and child at 3 years old? Respect? Worship? Fear? Equals?  Or have they not worked it out yet and just see you as Mummy?

I believe Ben to be a typical 3 year old, he is well mannered, polite, listens to me, responds well, understands he can’t always have everything he wants and then there is the remained 99% of the day.  O.K. that is unfair, depends on the day the % mix of delightful/devil and it flicks in the blink of an eye too.

At the moment my hardest battle – and believe me when in the middle of it, it is a full on battle, is when he loses the plot and nothing works, and I have realised just that, nothing works except me removing myself from him, and letting him calm down.  I do expect too much of him, I want him to believe perfectly 100% of the time but that is far from realistic and as time goes on I am lowering my expectations to understand that I have no failed if he behaves badly. But how I react to that behaviour is when I win or lose.

Our battles usually escalate when we are both tired and stressed, sadly neither are things that can be eliminated, but being aware that these are triggers should help me knowing when to back off.  He is a clever little boy, he knows exactly what buttons to press when in devil mode, and I often stupidly rise to them.  And at that point yes we are equals as I have the maturity of a 3 year old

I am a firm believer in they need boundaries, they need to know what is acceptable and not, what is expected of them in certain situations – but again am I being unrealistic with this and a 3 year old?

So any advice out there on what the parent child relationship should be?

So often I can see Cartman in my head blaring “YOU WILL RESPECT MY AUTHORITY”


7 responses to “Children as Equals?

  1. onlydads April 5, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Interesting question and a well written post. It is SO difficult to answer though…

    …one answer is we are probably going through 20 or 30 different relationship types every day – everything from mate to traditional parent through to Health and Safety officer!

    (I do laugh when I hear kiddies tell their parents off with their own words) 🙂

  2. WannabeFitMum April 5, 2011 at 11:45 am

    It’s a tough one, and something that I am going through to a fairly similar degree with J at the moment. Ultimately though, J knows when I mean business, and he knows that I will follow through with whatever the threatened consequences are, if it’s something particularly important that he either does, or does not, do.

    Treat you child with respect, as you would with any other human being, but you are the boss, and you are not their equal, not for the time being. I often look at my relationship with J in the same way as I do my relationship with my manager at work, just from the other perspective. Yes, we have a laugh, and we get on, etc etc etc, but I do what my job the way I am told to, by my manager, because he is my boss. If I don’t like something or want to change something, I can argue my point, and he will listen and review the situation, but ultimately, what he says (in terms of work) goes. Ditto with J, only now I’m the boss. He doesn’t ‘fear’ me, as such, but he knows that when Mummy is using that certain tone of voice, or saying those certain words, no amount of arguing/tantrums/stroppiness/pleading/whatever is going to change things.

    Personally, I think that a lot of the problems that we (society) have with the ‘yoof’ of today is down to parents not being parents, and trying too hard to be their offsprings’ friend, rather than their parent. That’s not to say you can’t be both, but it seems that too many people forget about the ‘parent’ part, and the children suffer as a result.

    At this age, I think it’s very much ‘choose your battles’. Some things are not for dispute – safety related mostly. Some things you can be flexible on – food (what, when, where), bedtime (another book? another cuddle?), clothes (J and I have this discussion most mornings – ‘Mummy, I don’t want to wear my coat.’ ‘ Okay, you’ll get cold then.’ ‘Mummy, I want to get cold.’), etc.

    • 2starsandaswirl April 5, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      Oh yes very much agree, it isn’t about being that cool parent that is a friend to your child. You need to be a parent 1st and then hopefully you can have a friendship with them too.

  3. Ruth April 5, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    My daughter is 2 and half and I get exactly the same bossy chorus of “do this mummy”, “do that mummy”, “no mummy!”
    I’d not thought about it that she thinks of us as equals, I’ve always just thought that she was repeating back the phrases that I use to direct her and that this was a normal part of the growing up process.
    I completely agree with Wannabefitmum in terms of picking your battles. I think as long as you are consistent on the rules that matter to you, be it bedtimes, mealtimes, whatever then you can give a little on other things.
    I think there is also merit in knowing when you need to give a little for your own sanity.
    Not sure that I’ve contributed any new thoughts, but you’ve left me with some.
    Great post, thank you,

    • 2starsandaswirl April 5, 2011 at 8:46 pm

      You interpretation of the repeating back is more likely right – I am just so paranoid about his behaviour that I over think these things! We had another battle tonight with him shouting at me. Just not sure how to deal with that rude behaviour, or do I just ignore? Thanks for your comment :o)

  4. helloitsgemma April 6, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I read this with interest as I have a 3 year old and he sounds similar. Currently, I am struggling with tantrums – I often hear things I’ve said shouted back at me. I try to keep calm but have my moments like any parent.
    I’m a more authoritative parent that I thought I would be – I try to keep things open and up for discussion, but do admit that when I say No – I want it to meant No. I do apologise when I’ve shouted and try and explain why.
    It seems to me that being 3 seems to be about becoming aware that they are a separate entity and have a freedom, they’ve mastered language and now are going to master the universe. It’s about what’s out there, what can I do – what do I feel like doing – She’s not attached to me, she can’t make me do that – I can do what I want. More than before. I feel your pain, am struggling with 3!

    • 2starsandaswirl April 6, 2011 at 10:28 am

      I had a classic example this morning on the drive to nursery, he started saying “Stop talking” at me, I can’t think that I have said that to him in that way, maybe as a “please stop talking and listen for a moment” But I asked him not to talk to me like that as it was rude and not nice. His reply? “Stop talking, STOP TALKING” I put the radio on then. Ahhhhh!!! I suffer at least 1 incident of ‘who is in charge?’ each day.

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