30 Day Blogging Challenge- Parenting clicked when...

Okay, where were we when I was so rudely interrupted by my life.  Sheesh, the nerve.

Ya, parenting.  What a delightful topic.  Parenting.  We read a million books with good intention, then end up doing whatever we feel like anyways!

Seriously, the book of the day for me was Dr. T. Berry Brazelton!  He was pretty cool and I actually loved his premise of Touchpoints and I actually adopted that idea and it worked!

Then I got into the Eyres.  I love every one of their books and adopted many of their techniques and principles.  They even came along with me to the 'Sex' talk with my kids.  They have an extremely corny book on where babies come from but hey...it worked.   Truth be told, I wanted to be Linda Eyre.  She seemed just so perfect in every way.  She even had perfect and appropriately, frustrating days which made her that much more appealing. If you haven't read her book, I didn't plan to be a Witch...you should.  She shares the great surprises of motherhood- like it's hard.

One day, I happened upon a theory, a truth really, that changed my life and it didn't come from a parenting book.  Without a doubt, it has gotten me through the restless teenage years.   I don't actually remember where it came from, clearly, I didn't come up with it on my own.  It is the idea that our experience in life is based on our thoughts.  To change any behavior, we first have to correct our wrong thinking.  Along with this is the notion of fear and anger.

I started noticing that when I showed a lot of anger, I was really just scared of something.  Scared of being judged, scared of failing, scared of being neglected, mistreated, scared of whatever...

One night, Shelbie came home extremely late and curfew had been hours before she walked in the door.  She wasn't answering her phone and I had no idea where she was.  When she came through that door, I let her have it with harsh, angry words.  The truth is, I was terrified but it made more sense to show anger than it was to fall apart and cry, telling her I thought she was dead in a ditch somewhere.  That thought would have made no sense to a girl who knew she was fine.

That's when parenting clicked for me....Anger really means fear and when kids are angry, they act out, talk back and do mean and hurtful things.  I think it's a mechanism of protection.

Whenever I was faced with poor behavior, angry outbursts, I wouldn't react.  Instead, I would tell them I wanted a hug.  I told them I loved them and then ask them what they were scared of.  For one thing, it caught them off guard that I wasn't losing my temper and patience and arguing back so it knocked the power out of them.  Second, that small validation and recognition that I valued them, opened up communication that led to the real issues in their life, not the petty ones that were easy to argue about.

It has never failed...they were either scared their friends didn't like them, scared to tell me about a mistake they made, scared that they were getting sick...the list goes on.

After I made that connection, our relationships gelled.  We understood each other better and this foundation of trust was deeper than ever.  It keeps the avenues open for when they run into problems.  We talk things out, correct thought patterns and then move on.

They have learned that no problem is so catastrophic we can't handle it together.  I trust that they will be honest and they can trust me that I will never over react or get angry at whatever their truth is.

This has worked great when they request big things.  One time, Spencer wanted to drive with his friends to the State Basketball games some 5 hours away!  I wanted to shut him down!  Right away!  He could tell I was not happy about the idea but he is a smart kid and we had a few years of this technique under our belts, he said, "Mom, you look like you might be getting angry, so why don't you tell me what you are scared about first."  haha...I went through my laundry list of fears...

It's a long drive
You might fall asleep
I don't trust your friends driving
I don't have the money
How are a bunch of 16 year old boys going to act without parental supervision
What if you get sick
What if someone brings alcohol, drugs
What if girls decide to spend the night in your hotel room

I could go on.  It left it in his court to address all my fears.  He told me some of his concerns, I helped him formulate plans if a friend started making poor choices and we both left with trust and love intact.

Knowing this little truth about fear, anger and thoughts, has made all the difference in the world in how life could have been.
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