Sunday, January 9, 2011

I'll be getting my mouse ears soon.

During those "inspirational" meeting that some companies give, you often hear about Disney.  When Disney hires an employee and sends them out to work, that employee is "on stage."  They are expected to BE whatever job they have been hired to do, be it Mickey Mouse or Cinderella or the guy that loads you on to the Tea Cup Ride. (Hopefully there still is a Tea Cup Ride. I haven't been to Disneyland in 20 years - I was on tour with my dance group, and was one of the oldest people in the group. I don't really mind...Disneyland at 15 with a bunch of elementary school kids is just embarrassing, and now that is all I remember.)  So when Disney cast members are on-stage and are expected to treat themselves and those they encounter during their day appropriately.

Now fast forward to my life as a mom.  Last Monday was a Day. I realized that I have no coping skillz with my kids. They decide what happens at bedtime. They decide what happens at church. If they behave, I feel like it is because I'm just plain lucky. I'm yelling all the time and giving them threats that they know I will never follow through with.  In short, they have my number.

It is extremely frustrating to get to 35 and realize that you aren't any better at dealing with sub-10-year-olds than you were as a teenager.  Where did I go wrong?  I remember a time when I didn't yell all the time, but I only had one kid.  Easy peasy, right?

Monday night I remembered I had heard of a class that was being offered at our elementary school that used the words Love and Logic.  Now, I took enough psych and child development classes in college to be skeptical with new fandangled child psychology fads.  I don't like being told how to parent and I don't want to become a parrot for someone else's methods.  But I also realize that I need some help because my own resources are not working. My kids don't listen to me and I don't feel like an effective mother most of the time. And that sucks, because feeling like a bad mom creeps into most of the aspects of my life, including my self-worth.

On Tuesday, I decided I would take the class offered at my school.  I figured that 12 hours for $10 over six weeks isn't bad.  Even if I don't embrace everything that they teach, I have to glean some sort of alternative way of dealing with my kids other than yelling all the time.

I was pretty impressed.  The teacher was very experienced and seemed to know a lot about child rearing in the real world (because books and theories and stories are fun and all in a classroom, but if it doesn't keep me from wanting to pound my head in frustration while driving in the car with bratty kids, what good is it??)  Earlier that day, I had picked up some of the Love and Logic materials from the library (oh county library system, I love you so!!) One of the books is on CD so I loaded it on my iPod and have been listening to it this weekend. I skimmed through some of the chapters of the book I got.  It was a lot of the same material, but interesting all the same.  

We have had some great days since. I've been giving my kids choices and they are responding to my "logical" solutions much better than my yelling.  Thursday night, Thomas and I had a great discussion about the day that warmed my mother's heart right up to the top. I know that yelling doesn't work, and it doesn't make me feel better. But I'm so used to it, it's hard to break the habit.

Which brings me to my original point about Disney.  Despite all the avoided fights and conflict-free cleaning we experienced on Friday (it was heavenly, I tell you!), I feel like I'm acting.  I feel like this giant dork when I say "That's so sad" to Ben when he complains about something he didn't like. But I also am not constantly battling him either.  For some unknown reason when I respond with "That's so sad! Now go do XX" he does it. He doesn't retaliate. He realizes that he doesn't have my number so he loses all the fight that is normally in his little body. Wow.  But I'm acting and on stage and doesn't feel natural.  Tonight I just kind of shut down.  I had kept it up all weekend, but I couldn't do it tonight.  I won't say I fell back to my old ways, but I couldn't think of a logical consequence to give them for not showering.  I couldn't come up with a choice to give Ben to motivate him to want to get ready for bed.  My acting skillz ran out and I was done.

I'm not ready to throw in the towel.  I don't know that any one theory of childhood development or child-raising is foolproof.  But I'm learning and my kids are responding.  That has to be worth something, right?  I also don't want to walk around with my head in a book, waiting for it to tell me how to get my kids to stop fighting.  It's a hard balance.

Do you think you can learn to parent from a book?  Hopefully I can learn something that will last with me.


Jeanette said...

{{{hugs}}} I understand, I really do!

Anonymous said...

I thought this post was going to be an announcement that you're going to Disneyland. I hope you can go sometime and take your boys... maybe someday after you're all loved and logical. Ha ha!

I've always struggled with my natural parenting style. I'm a yeller and a screamer, and I tend to make poor choices when I'm emotional. I hate admitting it, but I've read tons of parenting books because I need an outside perspective to keep me grounded. When I'm under control, I used a combination of skills from Love and Logic, Positive Discipline, Christlike Parenting, and 1-2-3 Magic. I try to play it cool, like, "I'm just a really good mom, and I didn't have to learn any of this from a book!" It's almost embarrassing to admit that I rely so heavily on parenting books! Ugh!

Apryl said...

I'm totally with Britt (though she's much better read than I am. I'm too cheap to buy books, I just read articles online). My mom bought me a set of the "Love & Logic" program when Ella was a crazy toddler. I really like the concepts, especially not getting emotionally involved in discipline. But sometimes I can't think of a consequence either (besides no tv, no DS, no computer). So we use a combination of Love & Logic and 1-2-3 Magic.

Basically, none of us really know what we're doing & we're all faking it, right?