Saturday, September 6, 2008

When Your Glass is Less Than Half Full or More Than Half Empty

Oh man, I am tired.

I mean my whole psyche is tired.

I don't want this to become a post that moans and groans about how much trouble a kid can be, and "why does he have to act like this" and "why does he have to make things so hard?" but, MAN, parenting can be difficult sometimes, you know?

The twins are toddlers, and yes they bite, and yes they push each other off the slide, and yes they hit and take toys away from each other, but I am fine with the redirection and the constant correcting and explaining of what is expected of them. They are toddlers.

But I have less patience with Noah because it seems I stick with the proper methods, I don't get lazy with the time-outs, I give him more attention when he starts to act out (in fact he gets a lot more attention than the twins seem to get from me) but his behavior issues just keep on keeping on!

He goes from Pleasantville to Ugly-Monster-Boy-Spitting-Venom at the drop of a hat (or at the suggestion that he come to the table, or because I put my face in front of his face when he seems oblivious to me asking him a question). If you give him a warning to stop being rude, he will often lash out in some way: kick you or hit you with a toy his is holding (although he usually pulls his punches).

And I am tired.

I am weary and I am weakened and I wonder sometimes how much of a child's behavior really DOES come from lazy or misguided parenting and how much is just personality. Did I make him this way? Can I change him? Can I teach him to change?


How do you know if a child's behavior is born in him, or caused by your parenting?

Can you teach a child to WANT to be generous instead of selfish? If a child is rude and acts deserving, can you teach him humbleness and humility?

How do you know what is a phase you can work your way through, and what is just something you will have to live with for the rest of your relationship with your child?
Answers? Anyone?

13 comments:

MariBy said...

I feel for you...I know exactly what you are going through. When you describe your Noah, it is the same as it was with my son. Because my son and your son wear the same label.

I will not mince words...it will not get easier for some time...

Do take some time for yourself every day...it will help tremendously. And know this...from everything that I know about you, you are a wonderful parent. Believe in yourself and trust your instincts.

gail said...

I wrote a long reply and depressed myself. But I erased it because I also concluded that I am not smart or objective enough to give a useful response. Besides, you are smarter than I was and will not have the same cards that I was dealt. And my mistakes could be your successes. So here's the revised edition:

You can't always know what is a phase and what is just part of the package. 30 years ago (at least in my parts) the experts didn't believe that kids were able to have any real mental problems. I'm told that it is still an area of disagreement. So find a counselor/physician you trust but trust your and Michael's combined instincts more.

Don't take Noah's behavior personally.

As Mariby says, make time for yourself. That is not always easy. For me, during the young years, it was the time in my car while I drove places alone, after dropping kids at school or daycare, when I turned off the radio and had long conversations out loud, venting and working through my concerns. It was not the ideal self time, and other drivers undoubtedly thought I was nuts, but it helped.

Cherish your relationship with Michael and make it a priority. I know things are hard with the kids now, but (trust me) they get much, much harder when there is no other adult who cares about them and wants what's best for them. I am guessing that it will help a lot in the long run if your marriage is your rock and if you remain a strong parenting team.

And this I am sure of -- this is not your fault, and not Noah's fault. Look around you -- there is no clear link between bad parents or good parents and the extent of their kids' problems. Thank goodness. You cannot change any of your kids, but you can give them the love and the limits they need. Sure, there are different methods to try with different personalities, but when it all shakes out, you have no control over which kids will learn those limits quickly and which will struggle. You can model the behavior and values you want them to have but, in the end, you cannot make them adopt or embrace those values. Heck, you can't even (or at least I couldn't) make them take a nap, or eat their veggies.

It really is hard, it really is exhausting. You are doing a wonderful job. As for the future, some things will get better, other things might not. But you will be able to deal with it. Really.

Snowbird said...

Boy, honey, I don't even know what to say. I think Mariby and Gail both gave you excellent advice. I'm with Gail, though, about finding a therapist who you trust. If nothing more than for your own peace of mind. I've seen Noah go from happy boy to raging boy and I know that it isn't easy to deal with. I don't think you should delay a whole lot longer though about finding help because it may just get worse.

Mare said...

Thanks to Mari (and your Mom, too!), I recently started popping over to visit your blog. Although I haven't had time to comment on your beautiful photos, this post made me want to come out of hiding.

Because I am a new reader, I don't really know much of the story about Noah. His changing moods may be much deeper than this, but have you had the chance to read (and please excuse me for the long title) 'Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, Energetic' by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka?

She touches on everything that you are questioning yourself about...personality, phases, selfishness, humbleness. I can't even begin to tell you how many 'A-ha!' moments I had while reading this book. It has really helped me to understand my 'intense' child, and boy, do I wish that I had found it sooner. Maybe then I wouldn't have second guessed myself so much for all these years. ;)

For now, I'll be sending lots of good thoughts your way for those tiresome days.

Shama-Lama Mama said...

Thanks to everyone who is taking the time to comment and give ideas and advice. I assure you I am not a basketcase and just felt completely wiped out last night. 3 cups of coffee this morning and I am back on track and ready to start again!

Mare, WELCOME and yes, I have heard of that book before and it keeps popping up. Maybe I should take a look at it! I took a one-evening seminar for "Redirecting Children's Behavior" which is a highly acclaimed method which seems like it made a lot of sense. I couldn't afford the seminar so I got the book. Gee, maybe I should put down the novels and read the self-help book now, eh?

I know I am lucky and that things could be so much worse. There are parents that deal with autism and physical handicap and mental retardation every day.

And I do thank God everyday for my husband who is attentive and patient and gives me breaks and time off even when he is on his last straw.

I get jealous of other people with pleasant, eager to please children. But I know I can do this.

Especially when I know folks all over the blogosphere have got my back!

MariBy said...

Some good advice so far. Sift through it and figure out what will likely work for you.

Here's some more to sift through, because I've lived it, and it's what worked for me.

1. Come to an understanding with your hubby - that if he is available - and you are on overload - that he will deal with Noah. (It's likely that he does this already...just saying that it should be clearly understood...) I've been a single parent since day 1 with my son and many was the time I wished I had someone to take over when I was so done, I was crispy...
2. Your husband should seek out opportunities to take Noah out on a one-on-one basis and do physical activities - hiking, walking, biking. Things that just the two of them do...and it should be physical.
3. Ummm...you're gonna not like this one...but computers for these kids is calming (as they must focus). Try and work it so that he gets a lot of computer time, but not so much that it's excessive...(yeah, this one's hard one to do).
4. While medicating your child - or not - is and will be a personal choice, realize that many of the meds do NOT have to be given on a daily basis. Yes, they can be given on selective days - and if you choose this route, get meds that can be halved. The docs may want you to medicate to the hilt and constantly...but it's not necessary.
5. School - as you are finding out - will be a big challenge. It will be toughest in the primary grades, but should subside - somewhat - by the teens. Work towards that goal. My personal experience was that when my son become a teen (practically bang on when he turned 13) - it became much, much easier.
6. I cannot stress enough that you must make time for you, that you must take a short daily break and a longer weekly break (minimum!) and look after you.

If you ever feel like emailing me on this subject, feel free to do so at my hotmail addy which has the prefix Mariby8.

:)

Emily said...

i have no parenting advice - as i know next to nothing on the subject. :)

but your title really resonated with me, and i completely understand that feeling. it'll get better.

Anonymous said...

In my (humble) opinion a good Therapist is very helpful.
Just be who you are and the children will learn from example.Pick your battles.Not everything is important;adults are not perfect,children are not perfect.
Noah is struggling with something and going to a"talking Doctor" will help.
Let me know if you want to discuss it more.Do you need a wekend brake?
Vera

Lisa said...

Hi,
Remember me from Akron? I do read your blog often, and being the mom of 7-year-old Victoria, I can relate to a lot of what you're going through. Although we're not dealing with ADD, she does have a lot of anxieties and "issues" where she can be quite nasty at times. A lot of what you've described of Noah is familiar to me...6-7 year olds can be a real handful at times! But we have our good/happy days, and our angry/"nothing is right" days, which all seem to even out in the end. My husband is my sanity-saver, as he is constantly reassuring me that he was exactly like her when he was young, and he turned out pretty well. It makes me feel better to know it's not all due to something I've done (or not done). So I am definitely in your corner on this!

Cindy said...

You've received some good advice here, so I'll let it go at that. But I wanted to comment on your comment of being jealous of "parents with pleasant, eager to please children". Girl, those parents (and children) do not exist! While every situation and child is unique, do not think for one second that there is a perfect parent or perfect child. I think every parent feels the same way as you at some point in their life, whether it is with an infant, pre-schooler, or teenager we all second guess ourselves and our abilities. Unlike a career or job where our salaries, rank, or title give us affirmation of success, unfortunately parents can only use their own children as barometers of parental success. But why do we do that? Why does a not-so-well behaved child today make us feel like a complete failure? Where is the finish line? When do we say, "Yes! I did it!" When our child is 18? A college graduate? Is it only when they are President of the United States will we feel like a successful parent? I'm sure just like me, you don't have an answer for that. My point is, I believe that both parenting and inherent nature can influence a child's bad (or good) behavior. However, I believe that ONLY good loving parenting can change that, and that my friend is what you are doing. Do you make mistakes? Sure, we all do. But you strive to be better, do better, and learn from those mistakes and that is the kind of parent that Noah needs. There is no mistake that he was meant to be your child.

Tootie said...

You have already had wonderful advice. I only want to say how much I admire the way you work and play with your children. You seem to be a perfect mother in every way.

I know since the twins came along, you have to be on overload. Things always seem worse when we are tired, which you have to be.

I can remember when raising three daughters; I prayed with each one of them, just to be able to live until they reached four. And, they were actually very good, but I still was stressed just by the small stuff.

Don't be hard on yourself, you're doing great! I agree that a talk with a doctor or councelor of some sort would put your mind at ease.

I can tell by your reply to the comments, you will make it through it all in fine shape! And, so will Noah; and he will be proud that he has you for a Mother.

JeSais said...

wow. lots to deal with! I must say, however, knowing you (and I will project onto Michael) you are the perfect parents for Noah.... meaning that you are equipped with the wisdom (to even question these things) and the means to seek out help, and the love and support to offer Noah. We all have things we have to learn to manage and those like Noah are fortunate enough to have the parents that will help him find the tools to use.
--sending positive vibes your way!!

Rachel Schell said...

I wish I could help you. I don't have to deal with bad attitude, but I do have to deal with extreme separation anxiety. sometimes the need to blame ourselves is way too easy, ya know? I think some kids are just the way they are. later in life you will probably be proud of him for standing up for himself. right now though, I can understand how tiring it can be to deal with.