Dec 17, 2019

Parenting is Hard

12/17/2019 — cori

I know I've mentioned alot in this blog about how I really have loved the teenage years. And I still do, doesn't mean parenting stops or gets easier. These past few weeks are proof of that.

These two adored each other when they were young. Bennett has always been so thoughtful about including Chloe. And Chloe couldn't give him enough kisses or hand holds. But things came to a breaking point this week and all those lovey feels were no longer in the air. It broke my heart. I waited and watched. Parenting looks different at each stage. At this particular one, I can't go in and tell them to stop and fix the problem for them. I have given them all the tools they need, I just need to stay on the outskirts and see how it plays out. 

However, I decided to come off the sidelines yesterday. The animosity between these two had risen to new levels and it wasn't getting better - rather worse. What I wanted to do was yell at them to take their heads out of their butts and see how they're hurting the other person. I wanted to tell them to just stop it and they would. I wanted to tell each of them how mean and selfish they were acting. But has anyone ever changed by pointing out all their negative qualities? Obviously, I was going to have to find a different way.

Chuck was out of town (the go-to peacemaker), we'd reached our breaking point, and I was the only parent left to clean up this mess. I was scared. I hate conflict. This cannot be overstated enough. I hate conflict between myself and others and just watching it play out between other people. I just want it all to go away. I decided the famous prayer of "Help, God, Help!" was in order. I left my prayer time with an idea of how to handle this situation and felt much better about the inevitable conflict that was to come.

I talked with each kid individually telling them that we would be having a talk in a little while about what's going on between the two of them. I wanted to prepare them so they not feel attacked. I wanted them to have time to think about the things bothering them the most so they would be able to articulate it instead of melt into a puddle of tears or use the famous teenage adage,"You just don't understand."

We all decided to sit in my room. I started the conversation off by reading them a blog I wrote 10 years ago about how much they adored each other. They both remembered the situation and seemed a little melancholy after I read it. I told them that their feud has gotten to the point where I needed to intervene because they are not using the tools I taught them. This situation has gotten out of hand and they need a mediator to help walk them through the hurt each of them are feeling. I get to be that mediator. 

They began by telling each other the one thing they love the most about one another. Then they were each free to tell the other the one thing that the other was doing that was causing them so much pain that they felt justified in treating each other in such spiteful ways. They each had to listen and not respond until it was their turn. It's hard to hear and see these ugly things in ourselves - especially when we feel justified. They had to sit with that pain and hear how it hurt the other. That is a humbling place to be. They both did it well. 

There was no yelling. There were no accusations. They seemed relieved to finally be talking about this and getting it out into the open. It was a healthy conflict resolution. I was the only one to cry, but I seem to do that a lot these days. I cry when I'm overwhelmed, happy, sad, hurt. Chloe might have cried as well, but I had my glasses off and couldn't see clearly. But all the tears were of relief. We were all relieved this hurt between each other was named, discussed, and forgiven. We were relieved to go back to our normal relationships letting love guide and not the hurt.

The thing about conflict's normal. To avoid it is to avoid relationship. Relationships take work. We have to push through the hard parts. We're unique human beings with our own wills, of course there will be conflict. But how much do you love the other person? Enough to fight for your relationship?

To keep them honest and resentment from building up causing another episode like this again, now, on a daily basis, they will have to tell each other one thing they really appreciate about the other and one thing the other did or said that made them feel aggrieved. Like anything worth while, it takes practice. There will be more ups and downs, but they should be better equipped to handle them on their own.

The Far Side of Parenting is so much harder than when they were little. But I'm thankful for these opportunities to grow and learn along with my children.

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