Thursday, February 18, 2010

When Your Kids Are Right...

For some reason, this has been a trying week. I am sure it has nothing to do with my monthly cycle. Maybe.

Either way, there has been a lot of turmoil. Crabby Mom. Crabby Kids. Crabby Husband. Even the dog is getting in on the action. And the wine. That's getting in on the action, too. (No, not for the kids, of course...)

But the 5 year old. Well he is just beside him self. So far this week there have been emotional outbursts, slammed doors, kicked toys, frustrated yells. "You just don't like listening to me!" on Monday. "You are hating me!" on Tuesday. "I'm not listening and you can't stop me!" on Wednesday. "I think you are just trying to be the Ruler of Me, Mama! Grrrr!" today.  I've chuckled a bit at some of those...but maybe it's not funny.

And the 8 year old. The girl child who inches ever closer to adolescence with each passing day. The shy child who is suddenly practicing her own version of independent thought. Independent thought that doesn't conveniently coincide with mine. And emotional"Maybe you wish you didn't have any kids!" followed by bursting into tears and stomping violently off to her room.

Gulp. Not pretty around here.

So, I sat down to think about it. What in the world is going on? We are a basically peaceful family. We attachment parent. We embrace non-violence. We're child-led, unschoolish, holistic, eclectic homeschoolers (I know, it's not short...but it does describe us and it's what we've settled on.) I have a tendency to yell at my kids when I'm frustrated but that's a conscious work-in-progress that we've talked about alot. If you asked me, I'd say that I respect my kids as unique individuals.

It would be so easy to blame this week on all the processed, sugary crap they ate on Valentine's day. Or not enough sleep. Or the basic (and warranted) neediness of children. And all of those things do have an impact.

But if I'm trying hard to live with intention and if I'm openly honest, here...than I have to admit that my kids are picking up on something true. I haven't been listening well and there has been a growing authoritarian ring to both my parenting and our homeschooling. And this week isn't an isolated week but a week we've built up to. The truth is that this has been one of the hardest years I can remember. And when things are hard we all do the best we can to get through...even when that means living less up to our ideals than we'd like. I forget sometimes that my kid's lives have been as bumpy as mine this year and they've soldiered on bravely and with great kindness and love.

And I forget that they are older now. That the parenting we do needs to grow along with that. Which is a place I'm finding I need to grow into, as well. I've been well equipped to parent my babies, toddlers, preschoolers but I struggle with where to take the attachment parenting philosophy after that. (Somehow, "suddenly" the sling and the boob are over!) All along I've been raising my kids to ask questions, to form opinions, to stand up for themselves, to live with flexibility and compassion. And recently, when they've been doing just those things...well, I've been utterly resistant and not very nice.

Despite that, I so do NOT aspire to being the Ruler of My Kids. I stand behind the beliefs of peace and compassion we've embraced in child rearing. Even when I've fallen a bit away from them. Part of being a Conscious Parent...a conscious person is seeing where we truly are and noticing any mismatch between our values and our actions. And then changing or letting go of that which does not serve us.

So, instead of being mad at my kids for acting out I'm going to be thankful for the wake up call. And attentive to the message being sent...

What parenting moments have you had that redirected your focus back on to your kids? How has your parenting changed as your children have left the baby and kindergarten years? What resources have helped you parent in a way that is true to your values?

Chandra Fischer
Attila the Mom


I am Allison said...

This was a nice post, Chandra. I can't think of anything specific that helps me redirect my focus back because I think I might do that (or attempt to do it) on a continuous basis. I always tend to regroup when I read a really good parenting book... like "How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk", and, my recent favorite, "Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves."

Diane said...

Chandra, I want to add more later, but, I have found just a little relief to read the Your 8 (or 7,3,2) year old books (I skipped the ones in between). They don't offer that many strategies, but reveal some tendancies they think are age related. They also have extreme examples that help me feel better about our comparatively mild outbursts. I don't really think they are great parenting books, just a little light reading to feel we are more normal and to worry less.