Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'm Not Trying to Be A Perfect Mother

As you may know I have been reading a couple of parenting books by Alyson Schafer called "Breaking the Good Mom Myth" and "Honey, I've Wrecked the Kids".  Both are very great books and definitely a helpful resource if you are having problems with getting your children to listen. 

One of the things that I read in the first book was about how we are not responsible for the relationship between the siblings.  In fact, if we are constantly interferring and refereeing their bickering and squabling we are actually damaging their relationships as well as setting up a winner and loser situation. 

I thought that was what I was supposed to do, evaluate the argument and then determine who was in the right and who was in the wrong.  Only how does that end up being fair when half the time you don't really see what happened?  Doesn't the oldest one generally end up being the fall guy er kid since they're the oldest and should know better?

(I may not have that exactly verbatim from the book as I don't have the book in front of me but that is the gist as how I understood it.)

So I said to myself,  I'm paraphrasing but you get the gist. 
"okay, I'm going to back off and let them fight it out, unless they get physical, and when they call to me to jump in and resolve for them I am going to be empathetic but tell them they need to work it out with each other."


And that's what I did.  What I wasn't expecting was the liberating feeling I got from backing off.  When  I heard the voices raised upstairs, I told myself to keep out of it, let them resolve it and I probably had the first peaceful day I had had in a long time.  It was amazing. Not that everything went perfectly smoothly, after all the kids have to learn how to resolve their conflicts with one another and since my oldest has turned into a little lecturing (gee,where did she get that from) I do find it particularly difficult to listen to her harangue the younger two over some infraction they've committed against her. 

And I have had to listen to E whine "work it out, work out" back at me and listen to her tell her siblings that "mommy doesn't care" because she sees my backing off as a lack of caring.  Still, I can see that it will be worth it in the long run.  After all, how many of us actually stop to consider that their learning to work together and resolve their problems now will benefit them when they are adults.  How often have you heard the phrase "conflict resolution"?  Well that's what these mini beings are learning from a very young age much like they are learning their ABCs.  Only if we rob them of the opportunities to learn by solving every little problem that arises, we are not doing them any favours. 

As for the rest of the book, I'm still working it out, trying to stumble my way through logical consequences, recognizing the attention seeker vs the power seeker and positive punishments but then I'm only half way through the second book.  We can't afford to buy new books these days and Alyson's books appear to be very popular.  I read part of her book and then had to surrender it back to the library for another anxious parent.  I only just got it back again being fifth down the list. 

My mom laughed at me when I started telling her about these books.  I thought she'd be supportive after all the first book talks about stepping back from trying to be the perfect mother.  But no, she said, "You will stress yourself out more reading all these books and trying to be the perfect parent." 

My response: "I'm not trying to be a perfect parent, I'm just trying to find some peace."

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like a couple of great books! I have wondered about the sibling relationship part, but since we only have one it's not really big for us yet.

    Have you ever read "The 5 Love Language of Children"? Reading your perspective about those two books reminded me of that one. I think it's a good one!

    I'm a newcomer, I came over through SITS, and I love your blog!

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  2. Perfect parents scare me. Peace, however? I like the sound of that.

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  3. Amen to that last sentence! I really need to see if our library has those 2 books. I'm at my wits end with my kids and their constant fighting. I've tried backing off but then the fights become physical. One ended up with a bloody nose the other day when the other child pushed him over the sofa backwards. My husband spanks them and I think they see hitting as a form of getting a point across. I really wish I could get Tim to understand that. There's nothing more senseless than watching him spank the kids while saying, "You don't hit your brother!"

    ReplyDelete

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