Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thoughts on parenting

I generally only post about events that happen, but today I just wanted a place to share some thoughts.

Different events that have happened over the last few months have made me think about a few things. I've realized that the greatest joys in life come from our relationships with others, particularly our families. I haven't always gotten along perfectly with my family, but I like to think that we have good, respectful relationships. My relationships with my children are so special to me as well. They give me an opportunity to look at myself and examine what kind of example I am and how well I am teaching them.

I love the book Scream Free Parenting by Hal Runkel. The main premise of the book in stressful situations, we generally have an initial emotional reaction. The heat wells up within us and we REACT. These situations tend to come often and without warning when dealing with children. We say things like “don't make me mad” or we simply yell at them and try to force them into compliance through fear. I can sadly admit to yielding to the emotional reaction, hence the need for this book.

Anyway, the author teaches how to first control your emotional reaction and then respond to the situation. This is SO HARD. I have been practicing for months and I still fail. However, I have learned a great deal about my children and how they respond to me. For instance, I've found that when I react emotionally, my daughter in particular, reacts even more emotionally. The situation escalates and resolution is long, drawn out, and difficult. However, when I can calm myself first and respond in a normal tone, she often listens, obeys, and goes on her way. So how do you discipline if you don't yell? You let the consequences do the talking. One warning, then the consequence- usually a time-out (one minute per year for the age of the child) or taking away a toy or whatever. But YOU remain calm. It has been an interesting experiment to watch my children's reactions to my own calm. Unfortunately, it has been hard to maintain. But then, change can be difficult, especially when it is ingrained in you to react. But I believe people can change and that we can always be working on becoming better at something- especially relationships.

That brings me to the other part of the book that affected me. It was an exercise focused on the future. He asked the reader to picture their children in 10 years, 15 years, as adults. He walked through questions to help me think about the kind of relationships I want to have with them.

Wow. You mean my kids are going to grow up? There will come a time that I am the “mother-in-law”, “grandma”, and eventually “great-grandma”? Whoa. That seemed to far way to even think about. At the same time, it wasn't that hard to think about what I want. I want strong, confident, children who aren't afraid of the world. I'm not picky about whether or not they go to college, I just want them to be happy. I want them to know that I believe in them no matter what they want to do and that I believe they can achieve anything. They will always have my support and understanding. I want our relationship to be one of respect and understanding. Hopefully they will feel that they can talk to me about any concern that they have. I want to respect their marriages and boundaries, but still be involved in their lives. I will celebrate their successes with them and cry with them if they fail. I will encourage and uplift and let them always know how proud I am of them.

The interesting thing as I did that exercise was realizing how much of that I can do right now. That right now I have the power to decide how our relationships will be in the future. I pray for the strength and control to recognize that emotional reaction and to calm my anxiety. This book has opened my eyes and given me a new perspective on how I handle all situations that generate that reaction. I don't always know how to react, but I certainly do better when I am calm than when I am filled with the fire.

Has anyone else read this book? Have you thought about your relationships with your own children?

Monday, June 21, 2010

To blog or not to blog

I have mixed feelings about the whole blog thing. I am a social person. I love to talk to people and hear about there lives and tell them about mine. But blogging doesn't feel social to me. It feels like talking to the whole world and no one is listening. Who am I really doing it for? I deleted my blog awhile ago because of this and now I have undeleted it, but I remain undecided on how to proceed. I look at other people's blogs on occasion, but don't always comment. I enjoy "seeing" what is going on in your lives, but I miss "hearing" what is going on. It's like the blog takes the conversation out of our lives. While it is out there for all to see, I feel even more isolated. It's like if you know what's going on already, there's no need to talk. I don't know. I just don't know where to go from here.