Nobody wants to spoil their child. Indulging every whim or fancy until it’s expected. Demanded.
We have internal and external battles about what the right balance is. Waffling within ourselves over whether to put our foot down. Feeling judged or judgmental because another puts or doesn’t put hers down.
I’ve been there. And too often return.
Brand new mom parenting foster children in front of all the other moms who have been caring for kids for decades. Hello, fear.
One day, I was watching little three-year-old Robb for a weekend. My mom asked me with the kindest confusion how I determined if he should have milk or water at any given moment.
It was entirely arbitrary and often the opposite of what he requested. When questioned, I realized I was objecting only to assert my authority. To ensure he knew he couldn’t always have his way. Or rather, to ensure my mom knew I wasn’t always letting him have his way.
It was for her. Not him. And yet really, it was for me. For fear.
Neither of us really thought a little boy couldn’t or shouldn’t have milk if he wanted milk or water if he wanted water.
A bit of encouragement and a deep breath and we moved along with a lot more yeses.
They flow fairly freely now. The yeses. Foster kids already get more than their fair share of nos. To questions kids should never get nos to. Nos from biological parents. Nos from the state. Nos from the hard world.
It seems there isn’t much chance of spoilage here. These kids have faced harsh realities and painful neglect. And far too many broken promises.
They know no. They need yes. As foster and adoptive child advocate Amy Monroe from Empowered to Connect teaches, saying yes builds trust.
Yes helps kids know you are for them. Not for yourself or for another mom in the room. For them. And that’s precisely what I want to be.
When the requests come, inconvenient or impractical as they may be, I have to remind myself: I’m saying yes not to an absurdly large jar of pickles (a recent wish) but to a precious and beloved child. The yes comes easier then.