Friday, December 26, 2014
When to Face the Truth
I have to admit, I've recently been having challenges with my children. I've let the rope out WAY too far and needed a wake up call. My children and I were recently invited out with some family members to spend time together and then go out to eat dinner at a local restaurant. There was a lot going on that day and I won't get into all the details but here's the point. My kids were not behaving and it was my fault.
There are times in life when kids misbehave for a variety of reasons...maybe they are sick, tired, there's a misunderstanding, or they just make bad decisions just like all of us do. This time however, it was my fault. The kids were throwing tantrums, talking back, and not listening at all. Why? Because I was feeding into their bad behaviors without even realizing it and rewarding their bad behaviors.
When I left the party, I was mad at the person that was treating us to lunch (because of some of the comments she was making about the kids behavior and how I was reacting to them). Funny how we can spin something to feel better about ourselves..isn't it? I decided to confront this person over the phone the next day and the conversation quickly went in a direction I did NOT expect. She said, "Your children's behavior was not acceptable at our house the other day."
"EXCUSE ME?" I quickly defended myself and my children.
She responded by saying, "You are letting them control everything and rewarding their bad behaviors constantly with attention!"
I was shocked. I was mad. How could she say something like this? I am a single mom doing the best that I can!? PLUS, the advice she is giving me is what I tell OTHER families during my social work and nanny days. This is what I talk about on my blog!!! OMG! She was right!! How did I let this happen?!
I hung up the phone and processed the conversation for a few hours. I cried a lot. I realized that I was getting in a pattern of babying my kids without even realizing it. At one point she said, "Do you realize that your children aren't 1 and 3, they are 3 and 5!!" Shit. She was right. I later apologized and felt horrible that I let this happen. We talked for a while about some of the things I was dealing with in my life and also why I was letting my children behave this way.
For me, it's so easy to get a pattern where we just distract our kids instead of holding our ground. We may even start negotiating instead of saying a firm no when needed. We get tired and give into things without thinking it through and then they learn that we don't mean what we say. We give them too much rope and try to reason with them as if they are adults. But it ends up making things worse. So much worse. Sometimes we need someone daring enough to be honest and tell us what everyone else is probably saying. I respect that.
The next few days I began changing my ways. It hasn't been easy (and I know I will slip back into old patterns at times) but I'm really grateful for someone to be honest with me and tell me to step it up. I've already seen a difference in my children's behavior and I'm sure it will continue to improve. Sometimes we need someone to give us a wake up call. We need to be told what we can change in order to make things better and if we're not open or receptive we will never be able to improve as parents or as people in general. I truth is, I had sought out advice (from my inner circle) about the struggles I was having with my kids. The problem is that these are the people that always tell us what a great job we're doing and are our biggest cheerleaders....which is good because we often need support. They may be scared to give us parenting advice in case it affects the friendship. Often, they may be the kind of people who make the same mistakes we do and don't even realize what we're doing. I'm learning to really be open to people that aren't afraid to give me the cold hard truth. God knows I need it.
The truth is, it really does take a village to raise a child...and it takes a village to raise a Mommy.
FAST FORWARD 3 weeks and things are MUCH better. We still have our challenging times but I'm learning to focus my attention more on positive behavior and ignoring other attention seeking behavior (especially from my 3 year old). As a parent, it's often so hard to figure out when to help our kids through struggles, when to ignore, or when to discipline certain behaviors. I have a feeling that those challenges will always be difficult to decide (even when the kids are older!) However, I realized that I needed to face the truth and step up to the plate a bit. It wasn't easy to hear but my kids and I are happier with more structure and discipline in our home...it's what we needed.