Unlikely Martha

Don’t Let Your Mouth Write a Check….

My son. My son.

So here lately my son has been mouthing off something awful. I know some of you are like well what’s the problem…Handle that.

As a child coming up I had an issue with my mother yelling and spanking me, and while I would like to think I turned out a’ight…We I have decided that I am going to take a different approach with parenting my children. This week I vowed to yell less and listen more because he said he feels like I don’t listen. Which I do listen by the way, its just that his reasoning makes no sense. Yet I often get a good internal chuckle at some of the pontifications that he uses to rationalize his behavior.

So back to the issue at hand.

The word “bad” gets thrown around recklessly when it comes to talking about children. I’m sure we all have our own definition of bad and indeed some children are just that but my son is not…at least by my definition of the word. He is not the boy that I have to speak to about jumping off of my couch or throwing rocks at the neighbors house, his issue lies in not knowing when to Shut.His.Mouth.

His defiance comes on an intellectual level and that makes it that much more difficult to parent and discipline through because those skills will be put to good use when he figures out how to properly channel them. My concern is that I don’t want to put that flame out that questions everything, and can quickly argue a point. Hell at this point in his life he would make an awesome 7 year old attorney. Just imagine his potential with some proper schooling.


I digress.

Need an example? Good.

I can say to him son, I don’t want you eating in the living room. Now if I’m not mistaken that is a declarative statement. As in I, the mama have told you to do something and I expect it to be done.

Evidently he is processing it as: I heard what she said, yet it is something I am not interested in doing. Instead of doing what she said, I am going to give a plethora of reasons why this makes no sense in my world and why she needs to see things my way.

See. I’m not here for the back and forth. He will argue me down about why he did what he did and why it was okay when quite simply I told him to do something. Or he will question MY declaration, and like I told him the other day, I am the mother, I make the rules. PERIOD….then he asks why and I just have to walk away.

I know some you are still all with the *blank stare* like spank him and keep it moving. I am not ashamed to say I have tried that, we have taken things away and he’s still doing it. So at this point I choose not to spank. I’m just going to beat him at his own mind game. Lately instead of getting upset that he is asking the questions, I take out the time to answer them. I tell him why his father and I make the rules. I include examples to what could happen if he doesn’t listen to them in an effort to show cause and effect hoping that he will better process the information and start to think in a consequential manner.

Parenting sure is difficult. At this point I would take the sleepless nights over mind wrestling but it comes with parenting and we are now entering a new stage. One that is new and fresh but what I do know is I don’t want to use the old ways. I’m more concerned with him knowing why instead of just doing. A lot of us have gotten ourselves in trouble by not asking questions and just doing. It’s all relevant. It really is.

Are you parenting your children how you were parented, even if as an adult you feel some kind of way about your upbringing?




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  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Lawd, I’m going through this with a 3 year old, so there is no reasoning, lmbo. She is 32lbs of just WILL, and I have a hard time handling it. My parents were hitters and screamers, so I’m trying my BEST not to be the same way, but damn. I can only take so much of that back-talking! I don’t want to rule my kids by fear, I want them to listen to me out of respect, but how exactly does that work with small kids? I dunno. I just pray that this is a phase.
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  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 10:11 am

    My mother raised me by the old school way and I was not bad myself I just had a very smart mouth. I don’t tell parents what to do in their household it’s none of my business how you raise your kids but for me and mines I do it all as far as punishment is concerned. I just can’t wait til they get older though won’t that be fun….<*saying this very sarcastically*
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  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 10:38 am

    My son is two, but we’re trying not to result to hitting. However, I admit I yell… a lot. I’m working on that. I was brought up in home that spanked and then as I got older it switched to losing privileges. I’m trying time outs, counting to three, and taking away things he likes (toys, desserts, etc.). What works varies from day to day. I’m still finding my way.
    Jenni recently posted..The “Big Boy” Room

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I feel your pain. My son just turned two and he already questions every bit of authority I have. I think I’m raising him pretty much the way I was raised, with just a few key changes. We don’t spank ( for the most part) and even though my word is the final authority I will allow him to ask questions in certain situations. I realized that a portion of my childhood was spent fearing things that I really shouldn’t have. I want my son to be confident in his choices, and that means he needs to know WHY he can or can’t do something. It helps him make more informed decisions, and he learns to think for himself. I will say that my mother always encouraged us to question things. but most often those things weren’t her rules LOL!
    uniquelybrandid recently posted..Mom Moments

    • Reply
      January 24, 2013 at 10:48 am

      P.S. We also try to avoid yelling by reminding him of what he should be doing with simple phrases. And we try to give him recognition for doing the right things instead of scolding him too much for messing up.
      uniquelybrandid recently posted..Mom Moments

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Mimi, you and I are on the same page! I tried this same approach with my daughter. She’s now 16. As a child I was raised to not talk back to my parents, any authority figure for that manner. I felt that this upbringing made me a shy and timid often meek adult. I did not want this for my children so I allow them voice their opinion a lot more than I was allowed. When my daughter was your son’s age I felt as though I was right on track with my parenting, but now that she’s older she’s allowed her mouth to get her in trouble(with me). I hope you find a happy balance with your son. Lord knows I know what you’re going through! LOL!
    Brandi recently posted..Steamed Clams Served wih Shallot Butter

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    GREAT topic!! Every child is different, and so is every parent. We have to know our children and learn what works for them as far as discipline. I allow my children to ask why, although if I had even looked confused as a child after I was told to do something, I would have felt the wrath of my mom. LOL! Some things have deaper meaning like safety and because it’s good for you, but there are some things that just are because “I said so. Period.” I allow them to ask why because even as parents (because we are still learning as well), our answer can cause us to sometimes re-think our position.

    For example, my daughter who just turned 14 asked why she still has the same bedtime as her 7 year old brother. At first thought, I could have said, don’t worry about why, just go to bed! lol! But I thought about it myself, and said, “you can stay up a hour later and we’ll see how that goes”. It’s been going just fine, btw. =D So I think that whys can be good and allow us to evolve as better parents sometimes.
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  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Growing up I wasn’t a bad child. I think I may have gotten less than 10 spankings in my lifetime. And honestly, the times my mom yelled or ranted and tried to talk the situation out or take privileges I didn’t really take her seriously because I knew that at some point she would have to stop talking and at some point whatever she took from me she would give back.

    Spanking never made me fear my mom, but the consequence of my actions if I did something I knew would hands down call for a spanking. So, I kept my mischief to a minimal and didn’t cross any serious lines. I agree that we should explore different discipline techniques. You can’t and shouldn’t spank a child for everything. At the end of the day they are kids and sometimes we do need to hear them out and try to understand their reasoning and then explain why ours is better and go from there.
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  • Reply
    Cam - Bibs & Baubles
    January 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    This parenting thing is no joke. We are a no spank household. We use every other method we can think of. My mom wasn’t big on spanking. She talked to me about consequences and why what I was doing was wrong. We’re trying to go the same route. My son’s school uses a discipline chart. That seems to work for him and his friends at school. Thinking about getting one for home. He is a fan of this whole talking back thing. Most of it is trying to make him understand that he can say some stuff to his friends at school that he doesn’t say to us. That playground/daycare mentatlity is a challenge.
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  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Parenting is hard. Period. I totally understand what you mean about not being shy to ask questions, or question authority. At some point, that skill will come in handy. Taking things away will work to a point. So answering the question “why” makes sense. They can understand why those rules exist and why it is a rule in your home.

    We try to answer the why when we’re asking Zee to do something. Like, please pick up your toy from the floor so that no one will trip on them by accident. It’s a mouthful, but it does work–to a point.

    I don’t know how effective it will be when she’s at your son’s age, so the only thing I can say we as parents do is adjust. adjust. adjust.
    KalleyC recently posted..A Heavy Burden to Carry

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Ughhh mind wrestling is exactly what it is and Nia at 2 1/2 tries it already. I think sometimes the smartest children can be the most difficult because of this – they just think too much! I’m careful too about not letting my child be herself as the Banksy quote says. My parents were very authoritarian with me (including spankings) and it made me bitter, seething with anger. I definitely don’t want that for my daughter. I don’t have any advice to add but I do think it’s great you’re able to come to your blog community to share!
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  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    You know your son and how you want to parent so I say you’re doing a great job. Parenting is frustrating. Consistency is key. I’m not as consistent as I should be. I don’t like the word bad but my daughter is just that. Everyday she drives me crazy. Yep everyday. She doesn’t listen, she lies, and she constantly does things she shouldn’t. I spank and take away privileges and just about anything else I can to try to get her behavior in check but nothing works. I have my moments of breaking down. It really is just that bad. No matter what I’m her mother and I’m responsible for her. I want to make sure she has morals and values and to understand that life is full of consequences for everything you do. So I got to keep pushing and cannot give up on her. I will not be my parents and even though I’m not the best parent, I try my best for them and I’m constantly aware of how my actions impact them. Keep doing what you’re doing and know that what you’re doing is what’s best for your children.
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  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Don’t walk away!! To him this can say one of two things: you win or I dont feel like explaining it to you! The whole, do as I say thing, with this generation – doesn’t work. They are very inquisitive, demanding and rebellious!

    I dont have kids of my own, but have had nearly 200 kids, students! I can’t hit them, can’t raise my voice at them (I choose not to; other teachers YELL beyond belief! If only you knew the screams I’ve heard coming from a TEACHER!!) nor can I be sarcastic with crude intentions!

    I believe I truly treat my students as if they are adults. I walk them through thier issues, I explain to them why they should and shouldn’t do things and I allow them to rationalize their decisions. A child can never learn to be an adult if they never practice. As I raise the children in my classroom, I train them to think through their choices.

    Technically you made a simple statement (that’s all a declarative sentence is -makes something known). “I don’t want you eating in the living room.” That is what you want; maybe it’s not what he wants. Its a tricky, complicated, mind game!! I think you should make an imperative statement “Don’t eat in the living room.” which would provide a clear command or request. And even if he does inquire as to why he shouldn’t eat in the living room, allow him to answer the question, “Son, why shouldn’t we eat in the living room,” this encourages his ideas to view why we should and directs him to answer in your favor!

    Wooo-sah!! I don’t plan to parent my children the way I was raised. I am grateful to have had so much practice with my students that Im hoping I’ve mastered the art of parenting, atleast school-aged kids. Communication is such a huge part of adulthood and if a child doesn’t have the proper practice with their own parents, they will constantly fail in life!
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  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Oh yes, the endless trial and error of parenting. I’ve tried it all. I spank, I threaten, I breathe fire out of my mouth and smoke comes out of my ears. LOL. But seriously, for me I have to handle each kid differently. sometimes, I will entertain a discussion if I feel that it’s constructive and they’re not being defiant. Sometimes they are genuinely curious as to how grown ups think. Again, it depends. Other times I won’t entertain a damn thing. Especially my 7 year old. She’s feisty. Which I secretly like, but like you said, she’s gotta learn to channel it appropriately.
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  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    I think my families old ways worked until I was bout 13. Then I talked back. I pretty much put up a fight until I moved out of my house. I am not sure if I would change the punishment style, but I would like to carry more open communication with my child.
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  • Reply
    January 25, 2013 at 10:40 am

    My daughter is now 21 y.o. and I can say I only spanked her twice in those years. My dad never spanked me his presence was enough to not try him. Mom did all of my spanking and I turned out great. My daughter turned out great. I think once a child realizes whose in charge and what won’t be tolerated then other alternatives of spanking is not necessary. I’m not totally against it but I think you have to know what it takes to make your child do right. I use to tell my daughter to take a moment & check her surroundings she’s no longer with her friends so watch what you say. Then I’d tell her to brush off her shoulders cuz I know the devil must be sitting there. I do the same w/kids in church – they need to know what’s appropriate and what’s not.

  • Reply
    January 25, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    I think i raise my child the way i was raised. I was a good kid so I never got spankings but my mother wasn’t opposed to it and neither am I. I spank when its necessary which isn’t often. I have taken to fuss less and explain more and it seems to work pretty well, most of the time.

    Jas already does the thing where she needs to have an answer for everything and a question to follow. It drives me nuts!

    She’s taken to telling me, ” I’m about to!” when i tell her to do something instead of just doing it or saying ok. I’m trying to break her of that now because I don’t like it one bit. I will not have a sassy mouth child. I refuse!
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  • Reply
    January 25, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Whew!!! As a mother of six we do it all, it depends on the day and time. I can say we feel our method of all of it has been working because all our kids are respectful and trustworthy. Sometimes they get out of line and we have to uppercut them (just kidding..lol) and put them back into a childs place. We do allow questions and opinions about any and everything, however we stay on one accord and follow through with whatever punishment we see fit.

  • Reply
    January 25, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    This is the honest to God truth…. My son is 7 and you are describing exactly what I am going through with him!!!! Exactly. His mouth, his questions, he having to have the last word because he just has to explain his point or ask his quesition. The Whys for everything. Girl, good to know I a, not alone. Like you, I don’t want to dim his spark, but I wan him to be quiet sometimes and just trust that mommy knows what she is talking about. Even today, I had to call my husband because I just couldn’t deal.

  • Reply
    January 29, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    THIS. With a 3 year old.
    My child is smart. He has a smart mouth. Like his mama.
    My mother was a big fan of spare the rod, spoil the child.
    I will spank as a last resort, but I don’t like to. I’m heavy handed and I will hurt that child.
    But yesterday, I discovered that a 3, saying if you do that again, no ipad or leap pad, I get results real quick…..
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  • Reply
    Dani @ okdani.com
    January 31, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I’m so happy to read this! We are not a spanking household and I intend on parenting a lot more lovingly, openly and communicatively than I was parented. I always get happy when I see a family that uses gentle discipline instead of hitting a child. Honestly, if you can’t outsmart a child, you’re doing something wrong IMO. A 5 year old cannot be running the show kwim? You’re such a great mommy. I love reading your stories about your kids.
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