My role as Rowan’s mother, up until recently, had been limited to keeping him clean, clothed, fed and content. Now that my dependent little baby is becoming an independent little boy, I also get to help him explore the world and develop his personality. This last part, in particular, is a daunting and exciting part of parenthood for me.
I consider teaching my son morals and manners an innate responsibility, and I want to help him become a socially functional member of society. It takes years to develop the traits Arthur and I deem important: kindness, self-control, safety and respect. But from what I’ve read, the time to start introducing such concepts has come. I’m relieved, to be honest—the little mischief-maker has begun biting, pulling and pinching (guess who’s his favorite target?). So … teaching Rowan discipline has begun!
By discipline, I don’t mean spanking and threats. I mean creating a safe, loving and forgiving environment in which Rowan can make mistakes and be steered in a more appropriate direction. Deciding what kind of family and atmosphere we want to create has taken a lot of thought and effort from both my husband and me. For us, it’s about being consistent with what we do and do not allow. We want to praise him when he’s good and not just correct misbehavior. He’ll grow up knowing that all feelings are OK to have and talk about, but acting on them isn’t always OK.
There have been moments when it’s hard for me to keep a straight face while correcting Rowan. When he barrels toward the sleeping dog in an attempt to give him a hug, I need to bury my laughs and calmly explain that we leave Finn alone while he’s resting. My favorite is when I stifle my screams when he’s biting during a feeding, and he ends up laughing. I’d love to join the baby giggles, but instead I try to firmly but gently tell him, “No biting.”
It might seem early to teach Rowan right from wrong and to respect other people’s (and animals’) space, but I can already tell he’s a receptive little dude. I know that we have a long road to pave on the way to raising a little gentleman. But we’re on our way!