Bringing up kids on your own is like trying to herd cats whilst wearing a blindfold after someone has spun you around a few times.
One of the hardest things about being a single mum to a boy in adolescence was the stage where he was bigger than me physically and began to try and dominate me. Not physically dominate but wanting to have the last word and tell me how it was going to be. It was a tough time for both of us from about 14 onwards. He was a boy (not yet a man, im singing Britney in my head) pushing the boundaries as all kids do and trying to be the man of the house. Kids take the piss, but only if you let them. There was a constant power struggle and it was absolutely exhausting. I couldn’t physically dominate him. Long gone were the days I could catch him to give him a swift slap. I thought, this is the crossroads. This is the bit where I either do battle every day to maintain my position or I give in.
I’ve always the thought that it was important to let kids be kids and if you let them be adults before they’re ready that’s when it can all go tits up. If I let him ride rough shod all over me I’ve lost it. I’ve lost him, I’ve lost his respect and I’ve lost any chance of keeping him on the straight and narrow when he needs it the most. So we duelled. Daily. He had to know that I was in charge and it was safe for him to be the kid.
This also meant I had come up with new punishments. They reach an age where they aren’t afraid you of so you have to make them afraid of the sanction. Parenting on your own means you always have to think on your feet and become more ingenious and creative.
Obviously any parent these days will know that he who pays the WiFi bill is King. Revoking internet rights was my go to punishment for a long time. My son however, is to arguing what an ultra runner is to marathons. He has stamina, energy and a determination to continue a row to the death if needs be. I would end up going from threatening to turn off the WiFi for a day, to two days to a week to a month in the space of five sentences, he would counter with “I don’t even care” to which I would scream “FINE, TWO MONTHS THEN!!!” and the row would end with us sweating and red faced like two ancient gladiators.
However he got so used to not having WiFi and as with any overused punishment it began to lose its effect. Forced to be creative and also not one willing to concede a fight, I battled on.
I breastfed all my kids and the one threat that served me well for many years was “you do that again and I’m going to tell all your friends that you used to suck my tits”