Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Parenting Was Simpler Then

Sometimes when I’m frustrated or angry I’ll jot down the issues on paper, or make lists, just to get it out of my system. If it ends up particularly nasty I’ll tear it up but usually I just toss it in the trash. For some reason, this list was kept in a box of paperwork that I just unearthed; it formerly was a paperwork pile that somehow got shoved into a box, put into a closet for later dealing with. So today I’m dealing with it (finally).

I found this so funny that I decided to share it. I am keeping the text as it was originally written other than taking out their names. Comments are added in parenthesis.

Note at the time this was written my younger son was aged 2.5 and my older son was aged 5.5.

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January 2003

Annoyances

1. Younger son refusing to change clothes when his are dirty.

2. Younger son insisting on wearing only certain select clothes.

3. Both kids lack of a habit, a schedule for tooth brushing. (I was trying to get them to brush their teeth on their own without my nagging and I was trying to see if my younger son could brush his own teeth as he was asking to do. Looking back, that was a ridiculous expectation.)

4. Kids refusing to eat healthy foods. Limiting themselves to eating a few things over and over, being fussy eaters.

5. Dealing with their food allergies—both dealing with problems and reactions, and trouble finding foods they can eat.

6. Younger son and the winter coat (I have no recollection of what the heck that means)

7. Both kids losing their shoes. Plus refusing to wear certain shoes that do fit.

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This was in with papers about homeschooling, making homeschooling plans, and pondering the ideas of habit formation with the Charlotte Mason method. Perhaps I was trying to figure out what habits the kids needed help with or what priorities I was making for my children. I don’t know.

Well reading that list made me laugh. Those complaints were the biggest issues in my life back then. I didn’t realize how great and easy life was back then. Little did I know just a few months later some serious problems would start happening that would really take a lot out of me and would put a strain on our family life. Life is more complicated now. Our family has endured some difficult times, some health scares and some serious life issues. Complaining that my kids won’t wear shoes that we provided for them seems utterly ridiculous to me at this point. The way I see it now, if we buy the shoes they say they want that did fit, and they refuse to wear them then they will have to settle for whatever one pair they insist on wearing is, that is all. I also own shoes that felt good when I tried them on in the store but made my feet sore after wearing them for a day.

Now that I am parenting boys who are now aged 8 and soon to be 11, I can say things are more complicated in the parenting realm also. I have raging testosterone in one kid who is starting puberty. The other is a perfectionist who is very hard on himself and who tends to take everything personally and is always on the defensive.

One example of an incident I had to deal with yesterday that is so different than forgetting to brush ones teeth is that I accidentally touched his leg with my foot yesterday afternoon while we sat at the table to eat lunch, and he quickly and angrily accused me of intentionally kicking him, and before I could even respond he called me a name! That came out of the blue and is the first time he’s ever treated me that way, it was quite shocking to say the least and it was addressed immediately. In this household children do not call their parents derogatory names and the kid had better learn that accidental touches are not intentional and a light touch is not a kick.

I also struggle with issues with things my kids learn from others. We had yet more issues a few days ago with profanity and rude behavior of my (schooled) nephews (their mother is a public school teacher who seems to feel these behaviors are not only acceptable and fine but that they are normal). Both parents allow their children to swear (the kids are aged 8 and 10 right now and this began when the oldest was four years old). It is amazing to me that these same people who worry of socialization of homeschoolers raise their own children to exhibit anti-social and rude behaviors. Their children are rude and swear not just to other kids and other adults but also right to their own parents.

The challenge is that my younger son is still in that developmental stage where he has a hard time understanding that what another family does or lets their children do is not automatically allowed in this family. Grasping that concept is something this kid has trouble with. At first he thought that if some kid said a word it meant that he also could say that word. That didn't work out well as my son was punished for breaking our family rules. That led to discussions of how families are different and we each can set our own rules of behavior and that we cannot control what some other family does even if we are offended by it or don't want to do that in our own family.

He seemed to finally get it that families have different standards, but the next thing that happened was that he sometimes acted like a little police officer, wanting to point out to the other kid that they are doing something wrong or rude and telling them to stop doing it. Of course that was not adhered to appreciated by the other kid and I think may have escalated further animosity between the two kids. This most often happens at public playgrounds or at children's birthday parties, and often with total strangers who we will never see again.

My son told me that when his cousins were swearing the other day he told them he thought it was rude and asked them to stop. I had formerly told him that is the only thing he could do if he felt something must be said, rather than saying "oooh, you broke a rule by saying that word, I'm going to tell on you" or something like that. (I'm not promoting tattling, primarily because trying to get a kid in trouble is not good but also because since some parents allow that behavior in their children, complaining to them about it would fall on deaf ears).

I have told both of my kids that usually what a person must usually settle for is ignoring the bad language and just keeping your mouth shut about it. This is because the one doing the thing we don't do in our family is usually not going to want to hear someone tell them what they are doing is not liked especially if their own parents let it go on or if the parents use that language freely too!

I actively parent my kids. I am not perfect. It is hard to be ‘on’ all the time and hard to have a happy enthusiastic demeanor all the time. I recall I made it a full 2.5 years before ever yelling at my older son. I felt so bad about it that I still remember the entire incident. I have since come to terms with the fact that I am human and imperfect. I do get that bad tone of voice sometimes. I do show my disappointment and frustration instead of masking it and acting like a phoney Barbie doll type of mother or acting like an ostrich and putting my head in the sand instead of dealing with something negative that my children have done. Anger is normal to experience while parenting but we adults have to try to curb our expressions of the anger to avoid acting in rude or abusive ways. I'm trying to treat my kids with respect and I expect the same of them.

I have rules and standards that I’m trying to apply in our family. It is not easy to go against the grain of what other families are doing, especially when my kids see and hear other kids and families doing other things. I try to hold my own such as that I won’t let my kids say certain crude or profane words even if their younger nephews are allowed to say them at family functions in front of adults and younger children. Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle. However to cave in and be a lazy parent just because it is easier would have bad outcomes for my children, I truly believe. It is not my job to do what is easiest for ME, as a parent I need to be trying to do the right and best thing for my children.

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4 comments:

admin said...

Hi,

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deals with parents issues

Bottles Barbies & Boys said...

Reading this I'm trying to convince myself, the stress of the lack of manners around here, is all just petty. The only problem is the smell of farts, is clouding my judgment and continuing to take over!

christinemm said...

Bottles... you cracked me up with your judgement being clouded by the smell of farts. Hysterical!

christinemm said...

Bottles... you cracked me up with your judgement being clouded by the smell of farts. Hysterical!