But life is rarely what we expect... so here's one for all you parents with strong-willed girls out there...
My mom and I have a great relationship and with the notable exception of my teen years- always have. At least as far back as I can remember. A friend recently asked me:
Why do you think you and your mom avoided the natural conflict that so many mothers and daughters share?My friend's daughter is strong-willed (which is a trait that can be an amazing strength in life) as is my friend. Reprimands and punishments for things like intentionally hurting her younger brother seem more like challenges and inspire outright defiance rather than obedience.
When I thought through her question, I came up with no good answer. As long as I can remember, my mom and I have gotten along. I can remember protesting naps (but staying in my room- glowering- through naptime), but that's about the only conflict I recall. So, I thought maybe it was just my mom (she's one of those magical people who does wonderfully with all kids plus she's a great elementary school teacher).
So when I asked her last night if there was anything special and intentional that set us on the right course, she stifled a laugh:
You bet there was.Any image I imagined of myself as an innately easy child disappeared back into the realm of fantasy.
When I was around one, my older brother (then 2.5) and I decided to run into a busy street. We didn't listen to my mom and were quite resistant to returning to her. We both promptly received spankings upon being drug back to safety. It was my first. My brother was immediately contrite, but I stuck out my chin and my eyes glimmered with a defiance that said, "Ha! I am a big girl now."
Mom saw trouble on the horizon. Some of her friends were well-entrenched in constant conflict with their young daughters. That night she told Dad "Adrienne is strong-willed" and he would have to discipline me as she didn't want us to fall into a pattern of lifelong conflict.
My mom handled crowd control, manners, and the daily basics of toddler management, my dad was the one who dealt with the major issues. Mom knew that I wanted my dad to think me perfect (as many little girls do) and I would take his reprimands more to heart. He was immediately in charge of establishing/enforcing rules, enacting punishments, and showing disapproval. It must have worked because I was a pretty hassle-free kid after that. I tend to follow the rules or argue against them rather than disobey. It's funny because in retrospect I had no awareness of this discipline arrangement between my parents.
My mom's advice is that if a daughter expresses defiance towards her mother that her major discipline then be administered by her father. This works best when daughters and fathers have good, active relationships.
When I talked to my friend this morning (after emailing my mom's response last night), it looked like the same approach was already showing promise in their household.
Her daughter (after being made to stop hurting her brother) said, "Don't I get a time out?"While I'm sure the kiss and apology were graciously accepted by her astounded brother, I am sure that our strong-willed toddler girl will still have a sit-down with Daddy tonight.
"Nope, I'm just writing it down so Daddy can talk to you about it tonight."
"Please don't write it down for Daddy. I don't want him to know I did that. Can I kiss [brother] and make it better?"
Other granny-related hacks: