Monday, December 15, 2008

learning patience

i've been working on practicing patience lately. its been just a tiny step so far, but i'm pretty proud of myself and felt i wanted to write about it.

i'm not a patient person...never really have been...although i used to be a LOT more patient in regards to other people's children. teaching, i had an immense amount of patience in comparison to nowadays. i am trying to learn to give the same thing to my own children.

anyway, its only been in little tiny ways so far, and i cannot ensure i can keep it up all the time...but i've been so very happy every time i realize that i've exercised patience. '

i'm so tired of being stressed out and short with my kids. this time of the year is prone to this, but i am like it pretty much constantly these days, for months...i don't know how long, but its become the norm for me and i'm hating it enough to finally slow down and think about it.

so today when my 3yr old was lashing out at his sister and hitting her (for what, i don't know, its the standard reaction from him when they fight...and they fight constantly)...instead of yelling and getting angry with him...i gently pulled him towards me, holding his arms in my hands gently and told him calmly, eye-to-eye, "hands are not for hitting, your sister does not want to be hit." i did not put him on time out (which i don't believe in anyway, although i do use a modified version of it when i'm at whit's end and am afraid that i'm going to hurt them or say something hurtful, which i'm more likely to do than physical hurt and i know hurts worse...i take them away from me to another room and tell them they can come back when they are able to talk respectfully, or something like that) i did not yell (something i've been really prone to lately)...but i was calm and for that moment, he really responded to it! and i immediately changed the subject and thanked him for picking up all his pretzels that he had just done prior to the argument...

the moment was really a positive one for me and i hope i can keep it up.

i have been thinking of what my children's lives are full of ...and lately its not super positive...so i am working to change that. when my children grow up and remember their childhood...i want them to remember joyous times with a loving, caring mommy. obviously i cannot be that all the time, but if the joyous times outnumber the nonjoyous, i trust that is what they will remember. if i spend most of my time being angry with them, THAT's what they will remember. i don't want that.

i have just been doing a lot of thinking about childhood lately. i have a bachelor's in child development but seem to have lost sight of that.

i had a recent conversation with a long-time friend on IM lately and i told her how i'm so tired of feeling like a failure as a parent. i'm tired of reading parenting books and philosophies about what is the "right" way to do things...i told her i think our generation of parents relies too much on "experts" and have completely lost touch with the natural parenting instinct that parents of the past might have had. i doubt they worried as much about doing things "right" so much as just living life and surviving.

sure there are people that are so way off-base with parenting that they SHOULD read these parenting books (the good ones)...and there are certainly pearls of wisdom in the books...but even dr sear's attachment parenting books make me feel guilty if i try what he suggests and i cannot keep it up!

i have come to the conclusion that there's just not always a "problem" when we think there is a problem. sometimes a tantrum is just a tantrum because that's what kids do! my son doesn't tantrum because "he can", but because he's 3!! and he's still learning what it is to be a human being in this very overwhelming world. he lacks the cognitive ability to understand the things that *I* understand. heck, i'm not even sure *I* understand much!

it just seems like everything you read or hear about everywhere in books, movies, magazines, tv, and other parents is how to "fix" things. how to solve a "problem." and maybe sometimes it just needs to be not thought over and fixated so much on. maybe sometimes it really is just something that they will get through and move on to another stage where they are better able to handle whatever it is that is causing the "problem."

i'm not suggesting that parenting should be about doing NOTHING, and just letting them be. there certainly are plenty of times when our guidance is needed...and i'm certain that some children's behavior does indeed come about due to the parents lack of parenting. but maybe there's an awful lot of the stuff we are trying to control that really just is going to happen whether we stress over how to "fix it" or not!

and maybe if i let go of trying to be the perfect parent (which no one is capable of being, regardless) and try to constantly control and mold my children...maybe i can instead unintentially control and mold them simply by being a fun and loving person to be around...someone that doesn't accept being talked to in disrespectful ways, but who models the appropriate behavior above all else. i've read over and over and over again that above all else its the way WE act that teaches our children, not so much what we say...so maybe there's some truth to that because i certainly am not being respectful to my children when i yell at them. sure, there are times when its just going to happen...and maybe i can be real about that too...but to spend so much time in the day being irritated by everything my kids do may actually be causing more of the problems that are irritating me!

i want my children to have strong childhood memories of mommy being fun and silly...not angry and stressed.

maybe if i just relax and have fun and enjoy my kids more, they will turn out alright.

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