HAS YOUR VIEW OF YOUR PARENTS CHANGED AS YOU HAVE AGED? WHAT DO YOU THINK THEY WANTED YOU TO SAY ABOUT THEM ONCE YOU GREW UP? WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOUR KIDS WILL SAY ABOUT YOU? Some where along the way to now, I decided the best I could do as a parent was to work at being a bit better than my parents, particularly my mother.
Through the years, my view of both parents has changed, my father’s got diminished a tiny bit, my mother’s improved. Here is the story. Mom had emotionally abusive temper tantrums at least once a month–yes hormonal storms. I was often the target, never knew what I did that was wrong, but ended up crying hysterically in my room. My father would come to my room around dinner time, and carry me down to dinner. Nothing was ever said about my mother’s explosions.
My father also used me as a confident occasionally when I was a teen. He would air complaints about Mom. However, if I tried to share my complaints; he would say if I couldn’t say anything nice I shouldn’t say anything at all.
Essentially, I decided to be better than my Dad by being more protective if my children’s other parent got out of control; and being open about mine and his failings as well as our strengths. I think I managed to do both.
What do my kids say about me? That I’m a bit crazy. Same about their Dad. True. But both also agree we helped get them where they are today. Sad to admit, but my family’s gene pool a slush of good and bad. The boys and I have struggled with some nastiness. Trying to helping both boys in school made me realize we all had two major learning disabilities–dyscalculia and dysgraphia. Explained a great deal about of my school struggles, those of one brother and of both my sons.
I know my sons are grateful for the good we gave–love, support, reality checks, righteous anger, un-called for anger, apologies, love, loyalty. fun, laughs, love.Some say that one mark of maturity is forgiving your parents and hoping they forgive you. I think parents do a lot of forgiving and much hoping to be forgiven.
I met my parenting goal by being able to admit that both David and I get crazed. Admitting wrong maintains most relationships; many parents don’t and that does harm children and often more than the first wrong. To make admitting wrong easier for parents, I suggested a CARE Plan in both my books.
To CARE means;
- Confront unacceptable behavior
- Ally with the child
- Reviewthe problem
- Expecting the best.
Because parents are only good enough, Confronting does not always occur in the nicest tone of voice or the way usually proscribed by the parent experts. Unless the confronting involves physical abuse or unrelenting emotional abuse, a child is not harmed when a parent blows their stack, particularly if the parents move onto the next step in a CARE Plan–Allying with the child. At some point when confronting angrily most of us will realize we might be going a bit too far; that is when we need to take a deep breath, remind ourselves we are dealing with a child, soften our voice and move onto the next step–Reviewing.
This is the time for parents to apologize for yelling and owing responsibility if the problem is one hundred per cent theirs. Usually, however, the child did something wrong, so a review might involve saying something like this:
“I over reacted, I’m really stressed, and tired, I apologize. I also wonder if you know how you drew my anger toward you?”
The responses to Reviewing are often astounding. Here are some I heard once upon a time:
“You found out I cut school.”
“You found out I stole a book from the library.”
“Jamie’s mother told you she had to send me home because I hit Jamie.”
No I hadn’t heard about cutting, stealing or hitting. The temptation when a youngster in the midst of a Care Plan confesses other wrong doing would be to focus on the undiscovered sins. Do Not.
Instead, state what stepped on your last nerve, “No, I hadn’t heard all that. What got me yelling, was I asked you three times to pick up your stuff and you sat there like a lump. When I am already stressed, that was what got to me.”
What about the other misdeeds. Well, that can be handled with Expecting the Best. “So now you know why I blew, but what do you think I should do about the stolen library book?”
Usually when asked to set a punishment a child will often punish more than you would. Leave when it is a bit more; when it is too much, set a reasonable punishment and then say, “Ok, the air is clear for me, let us get on with our lives.”
And yes, to bring a CARE plan into play is not easy until it becomes an engrained habit; but it does let you and your child move past the parts of living together that are not so easy. Moreover, it sets a useful model for teaching anyone to own their behavior and learn the art of apology.
Share, care, and grow strong.
Daily Post Challenge Topic #293: What do you hope your kids will say about you when they’re adults?(Don’t be a weenie – if you don’t have kids, pretend you did for the purposes of writing this post. Imagination costs nothing).