I am continuing to read through Have a New Kid by Friday. Sloooowly.
I have found time when I can read more, but I might be afraid to read more. We've more or less fallen back into our old routine. Due to the fact that a) The Husband's vacation ended last week, b) me and the kids are coming down with a cold, and c) it is The Husband's "peak season" where I basically solo-parent until January. Basically, not the ideal time to change up my entire parenting strategy. (it feels like turning my whole world upside down- even if I know it is for the better! Change! SCARED!)
So I'm up to page 57 (Yes, I've read five whole pages now!) and there is a section, "What Kind of Parent are You?" It was not completely surprising to find that I am an "authoritarian." I've seen the "can't say no" parents- they seem to be everywhere, carting around their bratty children and NO! I am not that kind of Mom- Nooooo. I've stayed true to my original stance that kids need boundaries in my going-on-six-years of parenting experience. However, I think I may have taken things a little too far to the authoritarian side. I did try and give the girls age-appropriate choices, however it seemed to seriously blow up in my face. They would fight with each other about who chose what, so maybe it is a twin-specific-problem that started this off? In any event, I am reading about the ramifications of my hard nosed parenting strategy. They are rebelling! They don't feel heard!
Argh. They don't feel heard. And valued. I tell them I love them! All the time. But I know it is true, they aren't heard. They are given a direction, and expected to follow it, no questions asked. Am I really raising these kids to be fully functioning adults? Or am I raising kids that will be insecure in the decisions they make? When I say "It's time for bed!" I don't want to hear anything out of them, just the sound of three little feet marching off to get their pajamas. Obviously I'm not supposed to let them gripe about bedtime. It's the other questions- the off-topic stuff that seems like a swarm of mosquitos; The girls are 5, (going on six) and they want to talk about everything. And it is annoying when I am just trying to get something done. I am dismissive of this behavior. I try and shut it down, all the chatter and talking that, if given the time and patience, I could possibly turn into a learning/bonding opportunity? There must be a balance in there somewhere. If I just listened to them all day, we would never leave the house... or take showers. Right? I want them to feel valued. Not just taken care of. There is a difference that I never thought about before.
I love them, I do! I just don't know how to relate to them in meaningful ways. At times I worry that I am reinforcing negative behaviors when I give them loving attention- most of the time they beg for a hug after doing something pretty naughty. They get a hug, and go right back to doing the unwanted behavior! So! No lesson learned!
Being upset with this, and at a loss for another solution, I stopped doling out the hugs. So compound the fact that I have been a bit dismissive of their thoughts I am with holding hugs! See what a slippery slope this is?!
In reading through this chapter I am realizing how destructive my behavior could potentially be to their future personalities. How scary is the thought of being so in charge of molding three human beings?! (can we all do a little freakout scream? Go ahead and flail those arms too!) The thoughts for this portion include "How does your child respond to this [parenting] style?" Ummm, I think we are seeing the consequences of my authoritarian parenting- I have kids how feel like they are failing at pleasing me. They run a bit on the anxious side. And they act out constantly. They are timid around others, learning how to be independent without me being there giving them direct instructions for each and every little step. They will eventually resent me long term. It goes on to "How can you adapt your parenting style to be more balanced?" Well, there is the million dollar question!
Next up! Incorporating these lessons in what I am doing wrong into real life. I am keeping the authoritative tone on a low volume... I am putting more emphasis on making sure we get the good bonding stuff in there. As for concrete plans, I need to finish the book! I need to put my big girl pants on and keep reading, no matter how much it sucks to hear everything I'm doing wrong. Then I need to wait until I can have a partner in this (Husband is working crazy long hours) and making a REAL plan. I may have to type it out and shove it into a nice little subway art graphic for the hallway.
I am focusing, for now, on the last question, "In what ways can you emphasize relationship in your home?" The theme for this month? Relationship! I'm not just the kid's primary care giver, maid, cook, laundress, chauffeur. I am their mother! I am the person they look to for validation, self esteem, social cues, warm fuzzy feelings, and security. Am I right to worry giving them these things will make them spoiled and even more annoying? (see: the "I want it now" girl in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) I am no doormat, but I may not be the Alice Brady I imagine of myself either.
I am now mentally and emotionally exhausted. I'm gonna go hug on my kids. Maybe even take them to see some Christmas lights. Get some self-esteem-boosting-good-Mom time in for today. Then soup. And bed. Cause did I mention we are all sick? Yes. That.
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