For the past while (I’m not sure exactly how long because there wasn’t a one-time, conscious decision to make an effort in this one particular aspect of my life) I’ve been trying not to be a screaming banshee in general but with my kids overall. Because, as some of you may recall from back when I used to blog more liberally and say the things I actually wanted to, I’m
kind of a (mouth-foaming, wild-eyeing, shit-losing) shouty, sweary mom. And recently, I’ve been trying not to be.
Let me tell you that it hasn’t been easy! You see, being a mouth-foaming, wild-eyeing, shit-losing, shouty, sweary mom makes it possible for me to NOT be a complete psycho. No, I’m not joking.
Mouth-foaming, wild-eyeing, shit-losing, shouting and swearing might LOOK scary, but it doesn’t hurt anyone, set anything on fire, get anyone put in jail, break anything or cause any permanent damage. It really just lets me get rid of lots of pent-up frustration and communicate how unheard and generally disrespected I feel. But it also makes me look like an irrational lunatic. And, slowly but surely, it’s becoming less and less effective at either getting my message across or making me feel better.
Which puts me at a bit of a loss. Because sometimes I feel so completely unheard and generally disrespected within this family.
Most of the time, I get really upset with David about this because he doesn’t seem to think that it’s a problem when the kids talk back to me or treat me like their personal maid or simply ignore me when I speak to them. It’s fine for him because he’s the fun one. He’s the one they are always happy to see at the end of the day, after I’ve asked then reminded then yelled at them to get changed/pick up their toys/do their homework/put their dirty laundry in the basket…
When David disciplines the kids – especially the littler ones – it’s with a light touch and of short duration. He’s quick to call them back a few moments after shouting at them to give them cuddles and have a gentle talk about things. I’m more of a “bitch” about it. I don’t agree with apologising to them for punishing poor behaviour. I don’t feel it’s okay to let them have their way to get them to stop nagging – that’s rewarding and reinforcing the idea that if they nag hard enough, they get to have whatever they want. I believe in getting the message across effectively. So, if they nag, they don’t get whatever thing it is they want. And if they speak disrespectfully to me (or another grown-up) I don’t respond. Or give them a stern talking to. And when they ignore me, I make a point of making myself heard and getting an acknowledgement. And if they don’t finish their supper, they don’t get dessert. I don’t believe that these are unfair expectations or reactions on my part. But I lose this battle EVERY time David is around because he feels I’m too hard on the kids and lets them have their way. And they adore him and ignore me because, clearly, I’m just unreasonble.
I often find myself questioning myself on this stuff. Am I going about it all wrong? Should I be more like David in my approach to parenting and discipline? I mean, if someone kept telling me what I could and could not do, how to speak or what I could or couldn’t have, I’d tell them (in no uncertain terms) to FOAD. So maybe there is something to David’s approach?
I saw this video posted to Facebook earlier today and while it’s hilarious, it did make me think a bit about the way I handle my kids…
I look at this and think, you know, this video makes a good point. No adult would allow another person to speak to them like this.
And yet, do I really have to point out that children are not adults? They need to be reminded to do or not do things all the time. They still need to learn all the social filters that adults take for granted and they learn them through their interactions with others and the example of the adults in their lives. But also by the consequences of NOT using such filters in their dealings with others – adults in particular.
So, once again, it’s all down to balance, isn’t it? That magical, elusive fucking middle ground. And all the patience.