He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

21 June 2012

Proud to be Mean {Part I}

As I've said a couple of times already, the homeschool convention experience was exactly what I needed and it came exactly when I needed it!
God is good like that.
As I have also said, there's a great chance that the convention nearest you isn't just for homeschooling mom's but if you're a mom who ever...
- gets tired
- becomes frustrated
- feels overwhelmed
- feels inadequate
- compares herself to others
- feels pressure to keep up with the Jones'
- gets stressed
- micromanages their children and husbands
well then it just might be for you!

I want to share with you my current experiment that started from some advice I was given through a seminar by John Rosemond, author of Parenting by the Book and The Well-Behaved Child. I realize that if you've heard of him you may immediately think of what a ... well, let's just say "stickler" he can be because some of the adjectives passed around our house for him are a bit unflattering. In his writing and, as I recently experienced, in his classes, he can come across as a bit cold and unfeeling... "a typical, out-of-touch, male." However, despite how he sounds, his message is still well worth a listen and, to be honest, I agree with almost everything he says. {If you're tempted to write me off already and wait it out for another "how to" post, I ask that you just hear me out first.}

I must give you a bit of history in order for you to understand where I'm coming from today.
It was not long ago, maybe 9 months ago, that I considered myself a mean mom. I would define "mean" as in I was the type of mom who expected my son to do what I told without question and if I didn't feel like explaining to him why I wanted him to pick up his toys, then I didn't. We were often told that we had great kids and regularly overheard others talking about how well behaved our munchkins were, especially in restaurants. {I don't say that to brag. By no means! I simply mean to say that a year ago, that's how things went.}

About six months ago, I noticed changes and maturity in CJ that made it clear that he was able to understand concepts and comprehend ideas. He was beginning to connect ideas to get to the "why" and not just he "how" or "what" like before. I took this as my cue to begin explaining more to CJ because I thought he would benefit from understanding as he was absorbing everything like a sponge. I began to get caught up in making sure CJ understood EVERYTHING and this is where I made my mistake.
See... it sounds good. Teaching your curious three year old about butterflies and growing grass and seasons all sounds good. And it is. But when I say I helped him to understand EVERYTHING, that included things like "Why he should doesn't tell Mommy, 'No'.". "Why he has to go to his room until dinner." "Why he needs to pick up his toys when I tell him to". And you know what I began to do a lot of with him? Talk! I talked so much that I sometimes annoyed myself! He understood the concepts, alright. He understood what I wanted from him without problem. Still, that all sounds good, even to me, but what I also did was open the door for him to add his two cents in as well and THAT is where things started to fall apart for me.
His behavior around others, whether I was present or not, continued to be good. I have not once in his life had a complaint about his behavior. {Again, this is not to brag. It is to explain our situation with which we were working.} I noticed changes at home though. He would not listen as readily as he once did. He would question my reasons for telling him to pick up his toys and inform me that he did not want to with a constant string of "NO! No, no, no, no, NO!"s. He would whine constantly and for long stretches of time. He would collapse right then and there if he did not like what I told him, refuse to stand, scream, cry, and tell me "I don't want to!"

So clearly things weren't going well. My once well behaved kiddo was melting down daily and I, a usually cool-headed, got-it-together-momma was constantly fighting headaches (literal ones), annoyance, and anger towards CJ. To be frank, I just didn't like him. He was not enjoyable, he was not kind, and he was not pleasant. I blamed him, saying that his and my personalities were just too different. "He's just like his father", I would say in a matter-of-fact tone.

I tried to keep it together on the outside, lamenting with other moms about the "phase" that CJ was going through but inside I knew something was falling apart. Even Miss Mak was unhappier than usual and though it was easy to place blame on the kids I knew, deep down, it was more to do with me but I had no idea what that was.

Are you still with me? Are you feeling lost in parenting like I did?
You can read more about it in Part II HERE

I must remind you that this is all based on my personal experience so if you want technical explanations as to why this makes sense to me, pick up a copy of The Well Behaved Child, or borrow mine, where Rosemond does a bang-up job of clarifying.  

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