Mph. Agh. Ouchie. Eeeeow!
Huh. Tragic. There’s no stuffin’ ‘em back in now, is there!? You are stuck on the parenting conveyor belt for the . . . rest . . . of . . . your . . . life.
(Speaking of conveyor belts, have you ever seen Lucy’s Famous Chocolate Scene? The best Lucy episode ever. I watch it about once a month and never fail to belly laugh.)
I love parenting. I love my kids. I love my life. It’s all good. However, my oldest kids have transitioned to this tween period, and I’ve had some new challenges thrown at me that I guess I just didn’t anticipate, partly because I figured homeschooling would buffer us and partly because I try to keep in-tune with my kids. Guess that’ll show me, won’t it!?
My last post was on the science of the truly changing adolescent brain. Simply amazing! However, dealing with that anger-prone brain lacking frontal control can be simply exhausting! So I’ve been working on some questions, with the help of friends and family (and you), to help me through this time. Take a gander…
Do you need to unwire your buttons?
Something your kid did or said got you mad, sad, angry, guilty, resentful, or hurt? Then your buttons have been pushed! A friend of mine received wonderful button advice when raising her now grown son:
“When my first-born son turned 12, a friend of mine told me, “You are no longer entitled to have any buttons. Remove them all from your psyche. If you have any buttons HE WILL FIND THEM. You are then to say, ‘Oh, why thank you, son, for pointing out that I have a button there, I will remove it forthwith!’”
What are some commonly wired buttons?
- The Guilt Button
- The Disrespectful Kid Button
- The This Parent is Being Taken for Granted Button
- The Character Attack Button (Often pushed when you’re called controlling or a liar–or worse, a controlling liar!)
- The I’m Being Lied to Button
- The Messy Button
- The My Kid is Lazy Button
- The Gimme’ Button (Usually pushed when a string of “needed,” unrelated things comes out their mouths in the course of less than 5 minutes)
- The I Hate Running Late Button
- The Trying to Be Fair Button (Usually pushed when one kid gets something “special” and the others think they never do)
- My Kid’s Become a Brat Button
Got any of those buttons? Got any others? In the heat of the moment, I’ve been trying to pause and internally give a name to the button my tweens are pushing, making a visual image of me unwiring that button (Sometimes I visualize the button on my head, sometimes on my heart, and sometimes in my stomach, whatever, weird, I know.), so it can’t be a source of angst for me anymore. Then, I am better at ignoring what needs to be ignored, calmly (more calmly, anyhow) addressing what I can address at the time, or running upstairs as fast as I can so I don’t say meaner, nastier things than my kids.
Bottom Line: JAM your buttons so they don’t have anything to push.
Does your child need alone time with you?
One daughter kept asking for some alone time with me. I was like, “Yeah. Yeah. We’ll get that.” Honestly, I was thinking, “Uh. It’s a family of six, one being a toddler. You don’t get alone time with me. Doesn’t homeschooling count?” But I made some time to go out with her and each other older child alone.
Every family is different, but I think one of my big problems was the time consumed by a toddler. Split parenting (That’s the term for parenting kids in different stages of life, I guess.) does not seem to be my forte. Guess it doesn’t matter what the reason, I learned that kids need a bit of alone time with me. So I’ve made a point to go out for coffee with one, go shopping with another, leave the others at home while I drive just the one to a practice, and so on.
Other moms have shared with me that alone time can be as simple as a trip to the grocery store with just one riding shot-gun, working at a boring, tedious chore side-by-side, or lying beside them late at night right before bed (when you’re really exhausted and simply want to sleep). I can vouch they seem to talk more right before bed when I need toothpicks for my eyes.
Do you take it as about you? (It’s not about you ,even if they try to make it about you.)
It’s easy to take this challenging time as a reflection of your parenting and allow yourself to have a pity party wondering what YOU did wrong. How could YOUR child treat YOU so badly? What did YOU do? How did YOU ruin YOUR child for life? How did YOU create such a villain?
I know my kids are loved, provided for, safe, nurtured, rarely yelled at, rarely criticized, have some laundry and dishes to do, have appropriate boundaries, still have a few wants (as in they don’t have everything), and so on and so forth. I know my kids aren’t bullied at school or being picked on by a teacher. And yet, my kids are still turning inside-out on me, often accusing me of their suffering! One’s a melancholy and the other is a viper. (Unless the guidance counselor–that’s me–has dealt with two crying tweens, it’s not a complete day.)
So I’ve decided this time isn’t about me being a bad mom as much as it is about my kids learning to get away from a good mom. The best way for life to separate me and my kids is to make me unlikable to them—and them unlikable to me! (It’s working! Ha! “Go away! Come back with the grandkids.”)
Yet, I’ll nurse them (and me) along in their confusion and anger, proving to them that love is unconditional—but it can still get its feelings hurt! Nancy Rue, a writer of tween self-help books, writes that the numerous tweens she has interviewed want two things from their parents (even when they seem to push parents away): daily hugs and some time alone with them.
Hey. That sounds like it’s all about them!
Are you fostering independence?
What if they get smashed crossing that busy street? What if they browse bad internet sites? What if they get molested at a sleepover? What if they don’t choose their class college schedule right, costing you another thousand bucks or more? What if they major in art and live with you forever?
There’s no right answer, but if your kid is telling you she feels controlled and overprotected, it might be time to listen and start some negotiations. Each day of a child’s life should bring her closer in some way to independence from your home.
I’ve noticed they thrive better when I get them out of the house to a friend’s house or hanging out with another adult, helping them with a job or learning a skill from them.
To be continued . . . Next up will be exploring: Even good kids need help, letting go of our attachments for our children, and doorways without doors.