Thursday, May 27, 2010

Parenting Time Out

I don't think anyone would argue with the sentiment that being a parent is hard work. Additionally, I don't think anyone would argue the fact that being a single parent is hard work too. Sometimes people tell me that I am doing a "good job". But really -- what does that even mean? Because quite frankly, many times I feel I pretty much suck as a parent.

I have one friend, a licensed therapist, who tries to remind me that if their basic needs are met, and I love them, and they are still alive at the end of the day than I am doing a "good job". Really? I have to ask myself. Cuz, I mean I could raise a kitten by those same guidelines. I guess that he is just trying to tell me not to worry so much or be too hard on myself.

However, sometimes I think it is good to take a long, hard look at what sort of mother I actually am. I mean, I already confessed to being a "slacker mom". But for reals... It's like some days I feel like I am just not cutting it. I had one such day just the other day.

Each of my kids have strong personalities, and seem to try me in different ways. When I get frustrated it is because one is being mouthy or another picking fights or yet another thinking they are above my "law". It doesn't happen all the time, just some days (or weeks or months). Lately, it seems more often than not.

I've had one issue recently with one of my kids, and it's not a new issue. And I feel like I don't know how many times we have to go through this before this child understands that this behavior is unacceptable. Apparently LOTS of times, because it is just not sinking in! And just when I thought things were better I get a call from the school that quite frankly infuriated me. Let's just say this child was lucky not to be within arm's reach. I was steamed. I talked to this child during lunch, and was so furious I knew that **I** needed to calm down before handing out punishments or inflicting bodily harm.

I went back to work. Fuming. Thinking. Reasoning. What could I do to help this child? We've talked about this issue several times in the past and this child accused me of not loving that child, not respecting that child, not trusting that child and not caring about that child's feelings. It even went as far as to be told I was hated. HATED.

I know that they are just words. I know that kids don't always have rational thinking. I also know that in the heat of the moment things are often said which are not meant. Nevertheless, it broke my heart to hear those words. I mean, I feel like I try so hard to do things for my kids, to teach them well, to "train them up in the way they should go". And yet - Hated.

While at work, I came up with all sorts of punishments. I came up with all sorts of restrictions, lectures, additional chores, and the like. But while I was out later that afternoon doing school pick-up I had a moment to breathe, to think, to ponder and pray. By the time I had dropped kids off and went back to work I felt much calmer, and I felt that **I** needed a "time-out".

This child already knew I was furious. Yelling or nagging any more about the topic was not going to do any good. I did explain during my earlier conversation that respect and trust has to be earned, and that one does that by making good choices. No need to rehash that. I felt prompted that if I went home after work and unveiled the earlier thought-out punishments and lectures that it would be like beating a dead horse and would only win me resentment. I could not go back and change what had happened. And this child knew what had to be done to make things right and I had already communicated with the teacher earlier, and we are all on the same page. I felt that I did not need to say anything more about it. And, I felt like with tensions that had been running high we could all use a break.
My daughter had a research project to do, so I took her to her dad's, and then I took the boys with me to Boondock's Fun Center. They did the go-karts, bowling and a few arcades. They had a lot of fun and thanked me several times throughout the evening.

Normally, I would not do something like this. Normally, I would say to something like, "Are you Crazy??? I do NOT reward bad behavior!" However, I really did feel like we all just needed a "break" and a chance to have fun and relax. Call it Mother's intuition or inspiration or whatever. But by the end of the evening I felt like things would be okay, and that we would be able to put this recent behavior behind us. Oh - and I promised my daughter I would use my Cinemark Gift Certificate to take her to Shrek this week, so don't worry about her being left out :)

Anyway, I know that this was probably a little unconventional, and I am sure that some people reading this would be shaking their heads or clucking their tongues or whatever. But it just felt like the "right" thing to do. I think we all just sort of needed a "time-out".

What about you? Have you ever done something totally random, or in complete opposition to "common sense" when it comes to your kids, because it felt "right"???


greenolive said...

I think that when you change things up like that you catch them off guard. You give them something to think about. I think sometimes kids think parents enjoy punishing them, like we're a punishment factory. When you break it up they realize that your goal is for them to grow and to learn. Hopefully this showed him a different side of you as his mother, his number one fan and support.

RhondaLue said...

yes. I have done things that people HAVE clucked their tongues at. But as parents we are definitely able to receive inspiration as to what to do. And sometimes it doesn't "make sense" in the conventional way but that isn't for every situation. And if I feel inspired to do something that other parents would shake their heads at...well, they can just shake their heads. I know my kids and as we pray about direction and guidance we should be prepared to listen, even if it goes against our initial reaction.

I think you are doing better than "a good job" and way to go for following your gut. You just don't know what your son was praying about either. Perhaps he was saying a prayer that you would react in a way that would be helpful to him, rather than making it worse. Or maybe Heavenly Father just knew what he needed right now and guided you into acting to make it so.

This mothering ain't for sissies. LOL!

Susie said...

I do that all the time:-)

okeydokeyifine said...

You are a lot better than your mother.
I remember telling my mother once that I hated her. She answered that she still loved me. She never said any more about it and neither did I, but I never told her I hated her again.
And actions do speak louder than words. Trust me... you are doing a great job. The payback is when they are adults.

Tulsi said...

I do the unconventional all of the time. They know what they did. They know how we feel about it. Sometimes we go ahead and let them do something even though we are mad about something else. I think it helps the tension even out and opens the lines of communication. More than once I've heard "mom, do you remember that thing we were mad at eachother for? Well...... lets talk about it now". I've heard "mom, you know that thing?...... You were right". It doesn't always matter what happens in the moment. And it doesn't matter to me what the neighbors are doing. Or what they think is going on in my house.