Have you all ever been in that sort of cycle with a child? Maybe the child gets really angry, you get angry and yell, the child yells, it all comes to a head, you both cry, but the cycle repeats. So many mothers I talk to feel sad, feel guilty, and can’t understand why things have to “come to that “ in order to really communicate with their child. Mothers also feel most guilty when they have things going on within their families, adult things, and the stress of what is going on comes out in the way they deal with their child’s behavior. Continue reading
5. Stay short and to the point. I like this point on page 196, Kids have endless time to play point-counterpoint, in an effort to wear you down. I know many parents whose children are ready for law school by age five! They are the ones whose parents often overdo reasoning and explaining, in hopes that if only they give their children enough explanations, the kids will stop wanting what they wanted in the first place. “
They point out it is okay to stay short and sweet, repeating the same phrase, being very specific as to what is needed, and the use of one word to communicate what you want (which can work well with those over seven in my opinion).
Have you ever struggled with that? Or with helping your child manage what behavior is acceptable when they are angry?
The authors validate in this chapter that as parents we can be very uncomfortable with anger as an emotion coming from our children. And mothers in the audience, we can be even more uncomfortable at times because many women are peacemakers by nature and by conditioning. The authors relate many stories within this chapter where parents recount how they were not allowed to express anger.
And didn’t this chapter just make you mad?
The very last part of this chapter is entitled, “The “Special” Child Challenge”. It opens with a scenario about a little boy called Eben who was born prematurely and as a result had faced a variety of physical problems that lasted into childhood and affected his ability to play and participate in everyday life. His mother related how she tried so hard to hold it all together in front of him that she realized she never showed him some of her authentic emotions.
Many of the long-time readers to this blog know that I was born prematurely (and my husband was as well!), we also have one daughter who was born prematurely and my work as a neonatal physical therapist involved feeding and development for infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Children who are facing special challenges, whether these be physical or emotional or spiritual (and how can we tease every thing out so separately! It is all part of the holistic human being!) are very close to my heart.
This chapter points out “many parents [of children with challenges] admit that the deeply felt emotions of rage, unfairness, and resentment never completely go away. Even the strongest parents could find their anger triggered anew by a reminder that their disabled child would never experience – or share with them-the normal daily pleasures.”
The authors go on to point out that the anger some parents experienced lessened once they could let go of the “why” and the need to find answers and move more into acceptance and the realization that this challenge, whilst sad and upsetting at times, it is only a small part of the essence of the child. The child is bigger than “only” the disability or challenge.
I have known many parents and families whose children have had challenges that have been walking a long road in helping to heal their children. I wondered how you felt about anger, special challenges, and what helps.
I loved this chapter because I felt like it really got to the crux of so many parenting issues and challenges, and maybe even hits on some of the reasons parents get angry when they don’t know why they even feel angry.
The chapter opens with a picture of a two little boys. One, an eight-year-old, wants to play instead of practicing the piano where the mother recognized how pleased she would be to sit in the audience and hear her son play beautifully. The other scenario was of a little five year old in kindergarten who was having a harder time separating from his mother than the other children in the class.
“It’s so easy for us to get stuck in false ideals for our children, ideals based on what we’ve heard from others or the way we’ve seen others behave. We’re embarrassed if our children don’t seem to be doing as well as we imagine other children are doing.”
The authors go on to say, “Often children need special help when they don’t easily adjust to their environment. But what constitutes real help? Sometimes when we think we are helping them, we are inadvertently communicating to them that they have let us down by not accomplishing what we think they should. This message can damage a child’s self-esteem. Dorothy Corkill Briggs, a noted expert on the subject of self-esteem in children, writes in Experts Advise Parents, “If a child believes he is unlovable or lovable only on condition, he may develop all kinds of competence. However, these skills are hollow victories. No amount of competence ever substitutes for lovability…Each child needs to be cherished for his sheer existence.” So the question becomes: How can we learn to set aside our disappointment and relate to our children as unique individuals with special needs of their own?”
I found these pages really interesting. I think there often can be a finer line than parents want to admit in meeting a child where they are and lifting that child up to where they need to go in terms of behavior. I have seen parebts who have done a great job in connecting with that child and fostering love, but had such a hard time in expecting any right action from that child.
In terms of activities outside the home, I am sure we have all seen the split between parents who enrolled their children in all kinds of things at fairly early ages but also the parents who seemed to not want to let their children spread their wings with activities or within the community at all.
I guess I found it interesting that the authors’ mixed parental anger regarding activities and how children manage (or not) parental expectations and the requirements for that activity (and whether this is intrinsic to the child or parent-pushed) and parental anger regarding behavior and developmental differences. I think if I was the editor of this chapter I would have insisted these issues be addressed separately. They seem like two very different things!
However, upon reading the next section of the chapter entitled, “Wanting The Best”, it struck me that the common ground between these two areas is that how parents do want the best for their children, and how do we as parents react when we feel disappointed in our children’s behavior, abilities, actions. Do we meet it with anger or do we meet it with love? Do we meet it with a sideways sort of plan to help lift the child up if this is needed, or do we lecture? How can we be allies and the authority in our homes?
I would love to hear your experiences and also thoughts on this chapter if you are reading along…In the next post, we will skip ahead in this chapter to address the section entitled, “The “Special” Child Challenge”.
Calling all my single parents! I would love to hear from you and if you thought this chapter was right on or not. I do find it interesting that the authors also did not make notes about mothers who are single because they never married or mothers who are single due to death of a spouse or partner. Also, even if you are not single I thought there were quite a few nuggets to be gleamed for all families in this chapter, so read on!
First, the authors open this chapter with the talks they held with a group of single mothers and she notes, “All of the women were the primary caretakers for their children. Even in-joint custody arrangements, the women reported that they still performed all the essential functions of shopping for clothes, arranging doctor appointments, getting children haircuts, and the like. When emergency calls were made from school, it was almost never the father who left work to pick up the child. The joint custody was not entirely “joint” and certainly not equal.”
This chapter has sections on Shattered Ideals, The Guilty Party, Everyday Conflicts, The Lonely Parent, and Making Peace as a Family.
I think one section that could be beneficial to all families is the section on “The Lonely Parent.” I liked the mother who said on page 117, “As one mother reflected, “The hardest thing is letting go, especially since I sometimes feel lonely. I want us to share more. But I believe that children retreat from “needy” parents. If we are personally fulfilled, they pick up on that and are more willing to be open with us….” The authors go on to talk about how it is not that children are incapable of “empathy, love, or generous gestures – just that their egocentricity is a basic reality.” In the view of Waldorf Education, a child is not considered full grown until age 21, and I think the authors have noted well that whilst children have capacity for all sorts of things, we should not expect them to rise up and be adults because these children are not.
I also liked this on page 117: “I have heard parenting described as a “thankless” task, and often it seems that way. Many a parent has complained that their children do not seem to understand or appreciate all the time and effort that goes into making their lives better. So much energy and emotion is invested in trying to fill our children’s needs and make them happy that sometimes we grow furious when children seem lacking in gratitude.”
There were also good nuggets for all parents to think about in the last section of this chapter. What did you all think about it?