Thursday, August 19, 2010

My parenting technique explained by some one else

I copied and pasted this from a blog that i love reading on a regular basis.
Shes originally from Canada, but now lives in a different country, (maybe Ireland??)
so some words are unfamiliar. And please excuse some of her words she uses that i typically leave out of my blog though im thinking them while typing.
Enjoy...even though its very long.

***Disclaimer: I am not perfect. I do not have all the answers. I am not using this post to toot my own horn, inflate my ego or congratulate myself. I'm an ass as a mother regularly, have exceedingly limited patience and fuck up - these are just my musings and observations as of late***

I hope I can articulate myself properly...

I've been watching people interact with my daughter lately and their own children and children around them.

For instance at the GPs yesterday there was a nana and three boys. The youngest was being... a kid lol and annoyed the Nana. Her response was to get in his face, wag her finger and repeat "Bold!" 5 times. Then as she sat down she turned to another child about 8 and goes "Isn't he just the boldest boy?! So bold!" and sat down. The boy then proceeded to do something else that irritated his nan and she repeated this. Then he upset another child and she roared in his face "BOLD! Say SORRY!" and when the wee one went to hug the offended child, she goes "NO hugs for you! SAY SORRY!". And then roughly tied him in his buggy, thrust his blankey and bottle at him and strapped him down.

I REALLLLLY wanna be sarcastic about this, but I'll behave.
But first - what. the. fuck.

ok ok. Here goes.

A) How does the child know what was inappropriate if she doesn't explain it?

B) How does he know what he SHOULD be doing if she doesn't communicate or demonstrate it? What is his frame of reference in these two areas? All he had was a meaningless word connected with shame and negativity yelled in his face.

C) Why is saying sorry with a hug negative? What if that is his best way of communicating sorry?

D) How humiliating and betraying must it be to have your loved one yell at you and then mock you to an utter stranger? Shame, much?

E) How does physically restraining him teach him a better way? What does it communicate?

F) How will you now use that buggy for transportation when it has a negative associated with it? I wonder if she gets frustrated when he balks at going into it, when having used it as a punishment previously.

G) How does giving comforting objects after being yelled at affect a kid?

Here are my thoughts. Where is the respect and communication? This kid is pretty brand new to the world and doesn't innately know the rules of engagement. Give him something to WORK with. You can't punish someone for playing a guessing game and coming up wrong. I yell at my kid. I give out fiercely when angered, pushed, see unacceptable behavior, etc. But then (usually - even if it takes me awhile to calm down and re-engage) I explain things. Why the action was not ok, alternative actions, different options, ask how she would feel if someone did that to her if appropriate to the situation. The point is my goal is to inform her of the hows, whys and wherefores so she isn't flying blind next time and can actually understand what is expected of her. I don't always remember or get it right, but it's what I strive for pretty consistently. I occasionally using scathing sarcasm tho... >_<

The point is have some fucking empathy for the kid and put yourself in their shoes. Do you like respect? So do they. Do you like having things explained and communicated clearly to you in a way you can engage and grasp? SO DO THEY! It's not an adult thing, its a human thing and it has no age limit. I do not think one gains the privilege of respect and understanding and empathy once they hit a certain age or prove themselves worthy.

Or take today for example. We're at the stationary shop and the wee one spots a gorgeous journal with horses on it. It's 16.00 quid so I explain we can count her piggy bank and whatever she needs above that to make up the 16, she can work for. Yes, she's five. She grins and agrees and continues on lusting for the journal. Fair enough... Mummy understands this. However, it seemed to offend the cashier who took it upon herself to assist me in my parenting. "Those are for eight year olds! You have to be eight to get one - a big girl!". I stood there dumbfounded for a minute and at a total loss as to what to say. The wee one believed her and looked crushed. "So I can't get one Mumma?". I replied - I told you, you can - we just have to check your money and save up what you need babe." and let it at that.

First of all why the fuck would you LIE to my child. She wasn't whining, she wasn't being bold, she was asking a normal question, respected my reply and was simply admiring the object of her desire. WHAT'S THE PROBLEM!? Second of all I HATED the assumption that such a gorgeous diary can not be intended for a 5 year olds hands because we full well know it'll be full of scribbles. And? She's entitled to own something beautiful and well made just as much as anyone else is. The dismissal and lack of respect towards her really got under my skin even though I know she had only helpful intentions.

Do kids ruin stuff? Yeah. So you can either not buy em nice stuff, or start off teaching them the value of what they have and letting them feel the consequences if they do not take care of it properly. HOW ELSE ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO LEARN? Do kids do bold stuff, upset others or cross the line? All the time - it's part of growing up. But if you don't communicate, explain and guide HOW ELSE WILL THEY GRASP WHAT'S EXPECTED OF THEM?!

When I first started reading about attachment parenting and respecting children as individuals right from their birth I was epically skeptical. The gentle parenting movement even more so. I had visions of these saccharine gentle Mums who coddle their children and never raise their voice, etc. I started picking what I liked of it and leaving what didn't suit. The results are really amazing. When I came across unschooling and realized it was a across the board way of living in every aspect of life, I did the same thing and started taking parts of it onboard.

This stuff REALLY works. Respect for them as individuals, as much as you'd give an adult, simply makes perfect sense to me now. Yes you tailor things to age appropriate and yes you over ride when necessary and compromise and sometimes encounter battles... but in general, giving them age appropriate choices, communicating continuously, especially in discipline and really welcoming them into sharing life with you instead of just raising them to obey and follow directives? It makes for some really enjoyable parenting and fascinating, confident, strong, empowered kids.

Me likey.

The key has been, for me, paying attention to the different facets/motives at play in a given situation, empathy and communication. Bold behavior can sometimes be the child trying their damdest to do a good thing. Instead of scolding, praising the intent and offering a less another way makes a world of difference. "Aw thanks for trying to clean the _______ - it was really thoughtful. It's a big job though and next time you need to ask Mum for help and we can practise doing it together."

In my house? This occasionally looks like "Ah hun, what the hell?! Oh. You were trying to clean that for me? Ah but baby! *Sigh*. Thanks for trying hun, but this is a pretty big mess. I know you meant well but like... can you ask me for help next time? Mum'll help. You know that! No -I'm not mad at you - you tried hard... I just really hate cleaning is all."

I've also started off with OMG WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!? or BABY GET YOUR ARSE IN HERE AND CLEAN THIS UP! Yeah I know you're trying to help BUT COME ON!

I am not a shiney perfect example. But the THEORY holds. And works. Even when I lose my shit, I do go back and discuss it with her. Sometimes roughly, but usually calmly and we discuss and voila. USUALLY not an issue again. It's NEAT!

The empathy comes into play because kids have half the info we do, have to acclimatize to adult life a LOT and are expected to do so without question, input or any kind of shared authority, etc. That HAS to suck. Especially when their emotions can take a back seat. Ever have an epic shitty day and just need ________? As an adult we can fulfill that ourselves. Kids can't always and I think this is where empathy is important, even if it means compromising or changing plans.

Communication has been the biggest benefit to our relationship. But I am sick and it goes out the window regularly and that's when stuff goes to hell in a hand bag. But I love communication. I love empowering her. I love giving her the tools to express herself. I love seeing her grasp different aspects of life and expectations, etc. I love giving her space to voice whatever it is she needs to voice. Sometimes it profound and relevant. Sometimes it's utterly painful incoherent ramblings. I still give her the space for those too. The point is to establish she has valid input and there WILL be space for it, even if it isn't relevant as of yet because eventually it will be and then the precedent is set. Maybe not always right away but we'll come back to it. I purposely give her this space with others too, sometimes to their shock lol. If she says something to someone and they dismiss her, I suddenly grown balls I don't have for myself and say, Sorry but she just explained something to you and she means it. I love being there to back my kid up.

The neighbor was here and the wee one gave her son a gift. The neighbor insisted it was just a loan and the wee one was like no no, I want him to have it. She would. not. listen. She goes, we'll bring it back in a few days. I finally said, "Hey, seriously. She said it was a gift. It's ok, that's what she wants to do." Neighbor was at a loss. I mean, yeah my daughter might regret she gave it away later, but she's been respected in her voiced decision and will grasp the consequences later if she doesn't already. Where is the problem?

Then she said to the wee one, my son will bring back your socks tomorrow after we wash them. She looked at me pleading and I realized right away she didn't want to lose her special new socks for even a day so I said, sorry do you mind if we just take them now? They're special to her and she'd like them back. I wouldn't do that for myself but I do for her and I can tell she appreciates being validated.

Oh. my. god. I am rambling. I hope this post has made sense.

Basically I guess I want to advocate for respecting children instead of treating them... less than. It REALLY does make all the difference and this is coming from a woman who thought kids needed to be trained even if it meant breaking them. It's a frustrating journey to constantly retrain myself, remind myself, have patience, stop and re-assess, etc.... but it is genuinely making a huge difference. She's a contributing member of this family and her voice carries as much weight as anyones, even if it requires more guidance at times.

Also we're writing their internal processes with them at this age. If they feel voiceless, powerless and dismissed all their lives, how can we be surprised when they grow up either aggressively demanding their dues or carrying on powerless, voiceless and accepting of being treated like a doormat. I'd much rather instill you have value as does everyone else and always remember that. I'd rather her grasp her own power to compromise, her own power to establish boundaries, to say no, the humility to go back when you fuck up (as I do often), be able to admit when wrong, be ready to correct a wrong, etc, etc, etc.

Aaaand there you go. END OF RAMBLE!
Kudos if you got this far.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Starting off my week with a few thoughts;

Even though i was caught this morning.dumping water out of my child's kiddie pool over the side of my 2nd story apartment patio, I will still continue to do it multiple times throughout the week.

Even though Rachel Zoe technically makes it ok for flat chested women like myself (and her) to not wear a bra with some outfits, a lot of people disagree...thank you Rachel Zoe for agreeing with me!

Even though most people dont understand what its like to be 100% completely on my own and in charge of a child and everything else, from wake up time to bed time, most days. I call the shots. I make the decisions. And the pressure and lack of breaks and support that come with it.
I can still be nice to them.

Even though i cant stand watching "Housewives of New Jersey", I cant seem to get myself to
actually stop watching! I mean, seriously, the show NEEDS to end.

And even though i feel like i will pass out every time i get up today, i still have to face the entire day with my little twirp, until 10:15 pm hits, when my husband comes home.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Apartment dwellers

Proof that it IS possible to live in an apartment AND have a kid

The grass is great, but the rocks, sticks and cement always appeal more to him

When we are inside, hes a non-stop cruiser with some sort of "job" to always do.
Every morning he takes this box around the house with a very serious look on his face.

(Please not the kiddie pool on the patio)
Every apartment dwelling kid needs one!
But he also loves the "big boy pool"

Nothing like ending the day, cuddled up in "his spot" with some books
under the living room window.

His spot is basically a big floor pillow that i set under the window. His books and a toy basket are nearby.
He often takes himself to his pillow
when hes tired or just needs to take a moment.
He considers this his chill spot, and his place of comfort.

And perfect that its under the window, because
he loves to stand at the window (which is at his height) and spy on everyone below.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

a few shots from daiy happenings

Loving the Farmer's Market

Soccer at the park with Robert

Working on his tan

evenings at the park

Chillin with Dad

1 car for now

Robert and I have not had two vehicles since 2007.
We have been a 1 car family for a few years. This was so convenient when we lived in San Francisco. We worked together, so no separate commutes. Paid for just one car each month to keep in the parking garage, rather than 2. We actually had NO commute, because we lived on-site.
And well duh, you basically just walk to most things you need in the city.

Now that we are living the suburban life for a while, we are forced to realize that 1 car is no longer practical. Robert now commutes. I now stay home with twirp boy. Roberts gone from 7 am until 10 pm...twirp boy and I are unable to do ANYTHING beyond our apartment complex.
Not realistic.

God provides...always. We do have a second car prospect. And Robert should be sitting in the drivers seat of it within the next couple of weeks. Leaving me with the glorious Honda van.

But, for now. Twirpo and I are missing out on our fun activities, days at the park, running errands, story time at the library, etc.

And while missing out on those things, Forest is soaking up "creative time" at home, swimming at the "big boy pool" with the tons of kids that live here, Watching "Little Bear" in our bed at night, loud and obnoxious bath times, learning to walk, doing his yoga moves, reading books, dancing to his favorite kinds of music, yelling, screaming, singing, and going on hunger strikes.
He is quite passionate about most things.

And im soaking up too much non-stop cleaning, lots of cooking, lots of "playing", lots of explaining things to Forest as he learns new things each day, projects in the apartment, pre-making all of Bert's meals for each day he is at work, lots of yoga, lots of "im ok, i can do this", and purely spending time with the precious little man. Not to mention being extremely thankful for my lovely bed at the end of each day.

Pics coming soon