I have had heard from many this week through email and comments (always welcome!) saying how much they’ve enjoyed the humor posts lately about my struggle to regain control of my children.
As much as I have made light of this situation, it’s truly been troubling me. What happened to my sweet kids? I witness them hitting each other, saying unkind things to one another, acting entitled, disrespectful, rude, ungrateful and oh, did I mention ungrateful? They feel that everything is a negotiation and that they should be the center of attention at all times.
I have put my mind to researching every book and text I can access on the subject of discipline lately and as I poured over excerpts, essays, and entries online and off line the term “family values” comes up repeatedly. This has brought me to an interesting crossroads…..
What ARE my family values and have I ever communicated them to my children?
I think back to my own upbringing, and all of the ways i undermined my mothers techniques with my internal dialog vowing never to repeat her words, mistakes, or measures …. OH YES I WOULD BE DIFFERENT- BETTER . We all do the BEST we can….
OR DO WE?
1) I KNOW that letting my children watch three movies in a row so I can get some work done and allow them to scream “MOOOOOOM I NEED A SNACK!” as i distractedly talk on the phone and fill yet another snack bowl and bring it to them so as not to disturb the catatonic state i have going for me is NOT THE BEST I CAN DO.
2) I KNOW that giving in and opening the yet unpurchased bag of oreo cookies in the grocery store and saying “maybe” while being peppered with the “can I get a toy?” questions to avoid a scene in the grocery store while finally rewarding them at the end for not acting like ANIMALS with some form of additional treat or bribe is NOT THE BEST I CAN DO.
3) I KNOW that negotiating with my five year old as he turns my own words on me telling me “Mom, it’s your choice, a popsicle or a cookie” as he deny’s my pleas to eat something healthy, while I whine “how about some proteeeeein”? Is NOT THE BEST I CAN DO.
4) I KNOW choices of chicken nuggets, pizza, pasta with butter, cheese quesadillas and gogurts as a family meal each night in order so I don’t have to deal with the “YUCK!” comments, dinner table fights, prolonged whining and remaking something they will eat all the while hoping I do not dirty another dish I will have to wash for the umpteenth time IS NOT THE BEST I CAN DO.
Now- these are just four examples and trust me, I can go ON and ON but what it really comes down to is
What the hell am i teaching my children and who wears the pants in this house anyway?
The fact of the matter is that I DO KNOW what i should be doing to illicit the proper behavior in my children but I have let my own agenda, self doubt, fatigue, and countless conflicting messages in the media cloud my vision on a minute by minute basis instead of simply DOING what MUST BE DONE.
I know I have GOOD children, AND that they REQUIRE direction, support, and limits at all times at this stage in their development and that I am the best one for the job. If I bungle this NOW…what will that mean for their future? In my excavation on the subject I re-read this little gem: the gift of NO, (If you click on this link this article pretty much sums it up). I love this article…. it makes sense to me and I think it will make sense to you too.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and I truly appreciate all of you who are also exploring this conversation with me it makes me feel somewhat normal and not so alone!