Apr 7, 2016

It's Not Always Sunshine and Roses


Believe it or not, sometimes things aren't always humorous, adventurous or crazy around here. Sometimes we have issues so to speak. And by "we" I mean the children, of course. See, this weird thing happened...they are all, like, teenagers now and the way we used to discipline them kinda quit working. All the sudden we find ourselves trying to talk to teenagers the way we talked to our big kids and they're all "no comprendo" on us. 

It only takes us walking into a wall before we realize we probably need to change our strategy. To be honest, change happens so slowly.  You don't see your kids morph into young adults. Yet one day you're talking eye to eye with a deep-voiced stranger and wonder where your little boy went. That day, my friends, is when you need to re-evaluate your parenting strategies. Cuz if you're still doing things like you always do...you're in for a rocky road.

Our sunshine and roses turned into snow and a thorn bush just the other day. Apparently, all it takes is waking up on the wrong side of the bed. But to be fair, sometimes my attitude gets a little salty on days that I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and I've been out of puberty for some time now. So, a little grace goes a long way.

But sometimes it's more than grace they need. Sometimes irresponsibility, egocentricity, laziness and/or attitude rears it's ugly head for days at a time. At that point, a different type of guidance is needed. If you're in "default parent mode" you're going to do what you've always done and react to your kid's mood/behavior/actions. Bad idea, especially during adolescence.

What I've learned is that I need to do the exact opposite of what I want to do. This book has saved me numerous times when I've had run-ins with the boys (and Chloe in a small part since she's on the cusp of adolescence). I tend to take their choices personally, react and pretty much do everything I'm not supposed to. Then in steps this book and voila...sunshine and roses return once more.

The other day Bennett had done 4 too many things "wrong". Not that I was counting. It wasn't necessarily the things but the lack of caring, the irresponsibility, not doing his best and doing what was right. He was not being who I know him to be. I immediately wanted to pull the parent card and state in my very serious tone of voice, "I've had enough of this young man. You are now grounded. You can give me your phone and oh ya, you get to do this chore an extra week longer." Boom. Done. Slam door in face and walk away. Point taken. I hope he knows how disappointed I am and hope he changes his attitude. Why? Just to make me happy? That's no reason for change. You would only change on the outside. That's completely performance-based.

Unfortunately, that would not lead to a changed heart in my sweet boy. It would actually squelch any relationship. I might get desired behavior (begrudgingly) but not a changed heart. Thankfully, I had a little time before he got back home to think hard about how to handle this situation. I went straight to my "Quotebook". I have this notebook where I write down all my favorite quotes from all my favorite books. I went to the section where I wrote down half the Love and Logic book and reread everything again.

I'm so glad I did!! It completely changed my approach with him. And in doing so, I showed him respect. He in turn reciprocated it. He learned to own his problems and how to fix them. I didn't take his bad choices personally. I asked him to tell me what we expect of him. He answered, proving he knows what is right and what the rules of our house are. I then asked him if he saw how these x,y,z actions didn't line up with our expectations. He acknowledged that they didn't. I asked him, "How are you going to fix this?" He gave ideas. I acknowledged him owning up to it and his solutions. Then I gave him a choice in either doing this particular chore for an extra week or giving up his phone privileges until he realizes that it is a privilege and comes only with maturity. 

"Take time and think about it and get back to me before bed time, Buddy. But I trust you. I know you are a very responsible guy who has just made some bad choices. But I know you can fix this. I love you honey." This is NOT how I would typically do things. But it worked! It dispelled any anger before it could even happen because I didn't attack him. I didn't put him on the defensive to begin with. He acknowledged his bad choices, owned it and came up with a solution to fix it and even apologized. And all this took only 15 minutes!

Let me just tell you....this is not how things have gone down in the past. Oftentimes we've needed an mediator between Bennett and myself when we get into it. Grudges and hurt feelings last hours if not days. Tone of voices are harsh. But not this time. This time we talked like two people who respected and love each other and wanted what was best for each other. 

Whoever came up with this is brilliant. 

We're back to sunshine and roses. Today. Tomorrow might be a different story. But it will be another beautiful story, no matter how it turns out cuz I get to live another day with my favorite people in this whole world. As parents we're always learning. So are our kids. Let's be humble, patient and kind to each other. Respect goes a long way. Playing the authoritarian card never works out well. All parties are sad. Relationships are strained. Heart connections lost.


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