Friday, September 29, 2006

It's almost the end of another solo week.. It's been ok. i made Raelin cry the first morning and have felt pretty crappy about that and so adjusted my temprement so we've made it through the rest of the week more or less on an even keel. sure, there have been struggles, but for the most part, we're still on good terms. As I have mentioned to many people, being a parent is much better than any personal therapy, if you're willing to pay attention to it.


i don't know. 3 is hard. have i said that already? could just be that parenting is hard, and to be honest, when you have a baby, it isn't this kind of parenting. Its' loveing and taking care of parenting... not teaching, discipline, and negotiation parenting. When Raelin was a baby, I didn't have a *clue* about the future. I knew toddlers scared me, but i felt so confident in what i was doing with my baby that *surely* I was going to be equally as patient and loving and creative with my older child.

Ha!! I have to snicker when i'm on my mommy boards and the mom of a 5 month old gives advice to a desperate mama of a toddler or preschooler. Um, thanks for the thought, but _you dont' have a clue_. I dont' care if you were a preschool teacher or a daycare provider or raised your sister. When you are the parent and it is your child, it is a different ball of wax, my friend. If i ever go back to teaching,wow, will i be a different teacher. I feel badly now, thinking back to some of the approaches i took with my students and parents. So naive. So stupid.

This is not to say that said mother or father of baby will not give some sound advice. But i often find that their advice is a bit on the judgemental side (particularly if the mother in need admits to not behaving as she wishes to... (cough- like me!). On the outside, it seems so easy. But on the inside...

We more or less practice what those in the attachment parenting arena call, Gentle Discipline. Theres' no punishment or intentional consequences, including Time Outs, which are completely ineffective. The idea is that you guide your child through challenges, you work with them to get all needs met. It does not mean that your child is allowed to do whatever they want, or that you are permissive as a parent.

I know many people in my life may think that we allow Raelin to do many things that they think are not ok, or should be tempered or handled differently. We have a looser reign than some, but not as loose as others, in my opinion. I"m not interested in raising an automaton. I'm interested in raising a confident, whole, thinking child. i always go back to that when i'm losing my shit over the fact that i've asked her 5 times to do xy and z and then i invent some game to get her to comply. I stew to myself..."why is it so damn hard to not pour water on the floor?" or stop screaming...or put on underwear... or pick up the cat with 2 hands rather than around the neck.

My validation for parenting and disciplining the way we do is that Raelin doesn't do anything out of fear. She doesn't follow directions or not because of what may or may not happen after- yelling, time out, spanking etc... Yes, we yell when we are mad or frustrated or tired. Mostly me. And i am working hard on weeding this out of my behavior options. But I don't think she changes her behavior due to me occasionally yelling. She does what we ask or not depending on her own mood and what her own needs are in that moment- is she feeling tired and cranky herself? is this a boundary she hasn't tested yet? does she need attention? I actually like that Raelin challenges us and "disobeys" because it means that she is comfortable and trusts us. Being "in trouble" doesnt really happen. The "trouble" is that whatever toy she may be throwing around after we have asked her several times to stop, gets put away for a bit. We may leave a store if she is having a hard time staying close and being respectful of other people and property. We withold treats unless good food it eaten. But we do not isolate her to "think about" what she did (yeah, like that would happen), or any other traditional discipline technique. I suppose the only consistent consequence is that she knows when we are unhappy with her behavior, and disappointing or making someone you love mad never feels good. That goes both ways, and that's enough.

Things continue to change and evolve as she gets older, pushes more buttons and boundaries, comes more into her own power as a little person, and therefore needs to challenge ours. It is our responsibility as parents not to curb her spirit and power, but to curb our own appropriately in response. This is where the better than therapy part comes in.

With children- well, i'll speak for myself- with Raelin, how i behave with her is everything. When i identify what my own hang-up is about her behavior, see how i am attached to a particular outcome, etc... i get some perspective and change what I'm doing. Usually, she changes too. When i ignore my part in the issues, I start taking out my victimhood on her, and that's just not a cool thing to do to a 3 year old. Unlike having an issue with anothe adult, i can't just leave and walk away. She depends on me. That raises the stakes considerably. And being who I am, behaving poorly with awareness is not ok. It's tolerable until i work out whatever i need to, and then something has to change.

Every once in awhile when i'm feeling stuck in a rut, i need to go through all this. Remind myself why we parent the way we do and tease out to the bones what i'm doing here as a parent. and blogs are a good place to ramble. so, if you made it this far through my babble... cheers.


Blogger e said...

wow. again, you are my hero. (p.s. i will try to apply this to my cat. i'll let you know what happens.) love!

6:48 PM  
Blogger keldog said...

forklift, e, forklift. use your arms like a cat can get away!

7:35 PM  

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