Sending you to bed doesn’t make me happy: an open letter to my son

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I sent you to bed early again tonight. By the time we got home and you got ready for bed, it was actually only 5 minutes early, but you weren’t allowed a bedtime story, and we ended the night in tears. Let me just say this much about that, I HATE ending the night in tears. I HATE skipping bedtime story. I HATE sending you to bed early. It all makes me feel like an awful mom. 

You have been pushing the limits, which, if I’m being honest, I really don’t mind. I like that you push limits. I enjoy the idea that you are figuring out for yourself what your boundaries should be and challenging the rules because it means you are using critical thinking skills. I don’t mind that you ask for a reason for the rule or the edict handed down to you. I want you to grow up challenging what is expected because it means you will be one of those people who will not accept unfair practices simply because “it’s always been the way we’ve done things”.

The problem is, EVERYONE around us has a different idea of what is acceptable behavior in a child and for most of them, children are seen and not heard and accept everything they are told no matter how wrong it may sound. There are a lot of things I see you do and chalk up to you being 5-years-old. I am willing to let a lot of that go, but when everyone around you is reprimanding you, they are also questioning my ability to raise you as a respectful and well-behaved young man. 

It’s exhausting! For both of us! I have to sidestep the opinions of the “well-meaning” adults, while limiting the inevitable outburst from you when you only want to know why what you did was wrong when all you were doing was following your natural impulse. So, the early bedtime becomes a necessity. You have to wade through the varying degrees of punishments to determine whose law you should follow. I know you don’t get it, but we’re both tired, and when a person is tired, they can’t process their thoughts and emotions properly. You need the early bedtime to help your brain get the rest it needs to self-regulate those outbursts and help you sidestep the people who want to keep you under their thumbs.

Unfortunately, right now, you’re 5 and from your perspective, Mommy is mean and cranky. And so, we end the night with me feeling like an awful mom, trying to make a stupid point, while trying to escape the judgement of the other moms who don’t get the point of allowing a certain freedom to encourage cognitive growth in my boy.

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