Holiday Discipline and Family

I live in a community of people. Sometimes I feel that I am raising my son in a fish bowl of sorts. There are some interesting challenges that come up that are particularly relevant during the holiday season. One of the most difficult parts about being around a lot of people, especially family during the holidays, is discipline.

I have a great example from my community that took place the other day in our kitchen. There was a normal (albeit very naughty, which unfortunately is the norm right now) interchange between my son and my sister. The interchange involved my son saying that he didn’t like my sister which of course isn’t true but I could still see her face cloud up with hurt. The reaction from my brother-in-law was what bugged me. My brother in law took it upon himself to tell my son that what he had done was wrong and then told him that he needed to apologize to my sister.

Now, I know since we live in such close contact with other people that they do need to the right to put my son down if he is mean or to walk away. I don’t think that anyone needs to be held captive by my son’s fits. But there is also a line where family or community stops and parenting begins and that is what brings us to the holiday season.

Have you and your partner discussed a plan of action? How are you going to handle family members who step in to parenting territory? How are you going to discipline your child in front of people? Are you going to let them get away with things that you are normally on top of because you don’t want conflict?

I had it easy the other day because my mother stepped in and told my brother-in-law that it was the parents choice as to what kind of discipline my child received. I had some back up. Unfortunately that probably isn’t going to happen during your family holiday so it is important that you and your partner are on the same page and that you stick with your pre-discussed “rules” if you will, no matter how uncomfortable the situation.

It is easy to just shrug off individual moments or to think “it’s just the holidays, after this things will go back to normal.” but life is full of little moments and those little moments are what make all the difference in your life as a parent and the life of your child.

So what is your holiday discipline plan?

Photo used from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/2964752310/

Trying

I used to chuckle just a little bit when people said that they were “trying” to have a baby. I mean, didn’t anyone ever teach them about sex? You do it. You get pregnant. Not always right away, but it does happen unless there is a problem. If there is a problem, then you might need a little help.

Well, that is what I thought.

I came by that thought fairly honestly. My mother never had any trouble getting pregnant; I was a honeymoon baby and so was my son.

I thought that getting pregnant with the second one would be just as “easy.” We didn’t even consider “trying”, we just went about our normal lives and…. nothing. I know that there are those of you who have experienced this; some with your first, some with your second or more. But, I really couldn’t imagine how we could be pregnant immediately with our son but now it has been, well, a while, and nothing!
Continue reading “Trying”

To Detach Him without Detaching

My son has reached 2 1/2. Okay, so we have a few days left but it is almost here. It is scaring me a little. I can’t believe he is growing up so fast. He is making huge leaps in his development lately; his vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds and he is growing like crazy. He is now looking like a little boy and not the baby that I know so well. He is demanding, creative, tiring and inspiring in all kinds of new ways.

Our most recent dilemma has to do with carrying him everywhere. He now weighs about 30 pounds and I just can’t handle carrying him all of the time anymore. I would like to but my back is starting to protest. I am not talking about just carrying him in to a store or anything like that I mean carrying him while we are in the store and holding him while I am chatting with someone for 20 minutes, things like that. It is killing me. He also wants me to hold him at home a lot of the time. I was in so much pain at bedtime just the other evening and told my husband that I had no idea why, I thought back over my day and realized that I had been carrying my son on and off all day long. I realized that this has got to stop. For the both of us. It is time that I detach him. I do not mean detach from him. He is still my little boy, he needs me, he needs my affection and he needs to be physically close to me multiple times during the day but we are taking some steps to ensure that it is comfortable for the both of us but let me tell you this particular “detachment” process is not easy!

Yesterday we were in town and every time I had my little man walk (holding my hand) he would cry and ask me to carry him. I would smile reassuringly and tell him that he was a big boy and he could hold my hand but he needed to walk on his own. It was not a very relaxing trip to say the least.

All day today my son has wanted me to carry him or stand there holding him for no particular reason. I have had to explain to him that I love him very much and he can feel free to hold on to my leg and I will give him hugs and if he needs to sit with me we can find a place to sit for a while but that he is a big boy now and mommy can’t hold him all of the time. Crying ensues and I take a deep breath as the irritation rises in me and remind myself that this is a whole new step for the both of us, we are having to “detach” in a healthy way without detaching emotionally and without removing the comfort of physical affection, we are just having to move it in to an arena that is comfortable for mom and encourages mini man to grow.

Liking My Spirited Child

I was browsing– okay, I fess up–I was googling the term “spirited child.” I immediately came up with some book advertisements and then with a few pages that explained what a spirited child was. My son is a “textbook” spirited child. The next few pages I came across were things like “taming your spirited child” and how to “cope” with having a spirited child, how to “survive.”

I am not big on always using positive words. I am actually somewhat of a self-proclaimed pessimist and don’t mind that I look at the glass and see it as half empty. I have had troubles with that before. Wishing I was more “positive” and “upbeat” but the truth is this is the way I am and if I am to embrace the way my son is and teach him how to embrace himself I will need to start by embracing myself. Fairly basic priniciple but easier said that done.

Now I understand how difficult it can be to have a spirited child. Though in some ways every child has their rough points. It is difficult to be a parent period. My son has had me in tears of frustration and exhaustion wondering if I was going to make it until bedtime only to find no relief because he wouldn’t sleep. If you have a spirited child, I don’t have to explain this to you.  You are already nodding your head and going through your own personal lists.

I in no way think that I need to “tame” my child. He is not going to change. He is going to be spirited for the rest of his life. Thank goodness! He is never going to be boring! He is going to be a creative and passionate person. I would not want to take that away from him. I don’t need to survive raising him. We both have to find a way to embrace our life today and all the tomorrows that are coming.

Here are just a few things that I have learned about my spirited child and that have helped me to embrace him and have helped him to organize himself.

  1. My son needs time to organize himself, I need to make that space and time for him. Since he is so disorganized he has had to learn discipline early, he has to discipline his mind and body, I can’t do that for him, but because of his age I have to help him identify his times of overload and help create the space he needs to organize himself.
  2. It works best if I let him know everything that we will be doing and where everyone is. This is no small feat sometimes considering we live in a community and there are 13 people here. He doesn’t feel “right” when he doesn’t know or understand what is going on, it creates confusion.
  3. My son can be loud and mean on occasion. This has to do with being a toddler but also has to do with him being spirited because he does not easily identify that he has hurt someone. This is not okay because no one wants to be around a child that is inconsiderate. I don’t want to be around a child that is inconsiderate! Appropriate discipline should be decided on before something happens because it is easy to become angry or frustrated with a spirited child. Discipline needs to happen immediately as a spirited child does not have a great attention span.
  4. A spirited child definitely changes a household (all children do) but they do not need to rule the household. Adjusting schedules so that they get a good amount of sleep and are not too distracted to eat is important but it is also important to be able to flex a schedule a bit without having your child freak out and ruin your time. Planning favorite stops, or for us, favorite snacks or activities along the way works great, something along the lines of “We are going to the coffee shop. They have toys there. Won’t that be fun?” We limit our time there so that we don’t push him too far and then suggest that we head to Target and while we are there we will get a chocolate milk. We do not bend to demands but calmly repeat exactly what we said we would do before, “No book today honey. I told you we were getting a chocolate milk remember? We’re going to do that now.”

None of this guarantees that we won’t be pulling our hair out at the end of the night but they are a few things that I have found that work for us. I also have found that it is very important that I get a little “me” time, especially if we have had a rough week. It doesn’t have to be much but it is extremely necessary.

In conclusion, why is it important that we discuss our spirited children? Because we want to do more than love our little ones, we want to like them and want them to become likeable people.

Any other spirited children out there? What do you all do to handle difficult situations? How about everyday life?

Socializing

My son has now reached the ripe old age of 28 months. People have been asking whether I am going to keep staying at home since my son is now “older”, I’m around family, maybe I could have a job or something. I have to admit it is not just other people but my own mind that I do battle with sometimes.

I know it is difficult for most SAHMs to feel that they are worthwhile, productive is probably a better word, our culture screams that SAHM really isn’t giving our all, we are depriving ourselves, our children and our family of the benefits of working out of the home and children going to daycare or attending school, where else will we all get our socialization? You know what? I don’t want to be put in anyone else’s box. I don’t want to be told what my social status is and I certainly do not want my son defined by his experiences in daycare or preschool.

I was homeschooled and never have felt a lack in the social department. Granted I never had as many “friends” (if you can even call them that) that some of my public school friends had, I had a select few people that were friends. I spent time with a very wide variety of ages, talking to an adult never made me nervous. There is one thing that I didn’t learn. I didn’t learn my “place” in society. The definition of socialization is  “a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.” (definition from dictionary.com)

Now don’t get me wrong, I know it is important for a child to join society, it has always been that way, a child needs to be introduced to his/her tribe and integrated in to their daily communal lives, the must learn the language and how they are expected to act, the culture etc. what they do not need to learn is their “place”. My husband learned his “place” as a junior high student; that is when he learned that money mattered and he would never be “popular” even though he was fast and quite smart.  He would never stand out because he didn’t have a good family, he constantly called himself a “plain guy”, just “average”.  Who told him that?  Why is he “average”? What is average anyway? I have always known I was not average. Is it because I think I am better than anyone else? No. It is because I was given the opportunity to become who I am and even now as an adult I am able to be and am free to become whatever it is that I am going to be because we are always changing as people, always learning if we are given the opportunity and the heart to do so.

I do not want my son to be told who he is and I won’t let other people’s questions trigger my own insecurities.

Jasmine is a co-housing, home birthing, missions minded, community living mama with a passion for fierce writing. She blogs.

Photo used from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/statelibraryofnsw/2982824181/#/photos/statelibraryofnsw/2982824181/lightbox/

The Terrible 2s

I have heard many parents talk about the terrible twos. I have heard many parents change it to the “terrific twos” because they did not want to label something that might turn out different for them that it did with pretty much the entire worlds population.

OK; so maybe I am exaggerating just a little bit, but seriously I almost get irritated with the whole thought that nothing that is going to happen to me or my child will be anything like the experience of anyone else. Why? Because I think that it breaks up the whole feeling of a wider community, a camaraderie if you will between anyone that has ever been a parent. Now don’t get me wrong; I actually do think there are not as many “attachment parents” out there, per se, and there are plenty of things that people say will happen or have to happen in a child/parent relationship that frankly I think is a load. But there are some basic things that seem to be the glue that sticks parents together in a bond of common sympathy and one of those things are the terrible twos.

It was like a light switch was turned on in my son. He went from being fairly passive to throwing, hitting, shoving, kicking… pretty much over night. And that may seem dramatic but it is true! And the screaming! He has never been a terrible screamer but this. There have been many different levels of exhaustion that I have run in to as a parent but as my son has hit two it is not so much exhaustion as it is worn out. I feel worn. The thing about feeling worn is sleep doesn’t really seem to help that much.  Thank God he is sleeping well at night now!

It isn’t all bad. He is funny. More and more personality is coming through and I am being introduced and reintroduced to my son on a daily basis. We have fun together. I like taking him places. That is until the thrashing starts, or the screaming. Discipline happens so many times a day now it is crazy. It used to be that he had some form of discipline every few days but it is every day now, several times a day. It is forcing me to get really creative.

Want to share about your terrible twos?

Jasmine is a co-housing, home birthing, missions minded, community living mama with a passion for fierce writing. She blogs.

Learning to Understand

It seems like every few weeks I am completely surprised by my son. He is talking more and more and things are making sense now. Children are so blunt. Tonight at dinner he was sitting at his brand new kiddie table and accidentally knocked his bowl off the table. He looked so disappointed and said “Oh darn it!”. We all cracked up; how could you not? The adult-sounding sentences coming out of a two year-old are just too much.

The other day I went to collect him from the great outdoors where he was playing with his younger cousin. My sister was watching the children “help” my brother in law with his building project. I asked my son if he was ready to come with me, nap time… he told me “No, I not sleeping, I playing with Chi-chi” (his cousin’s name is Chennai.) I had to laugh. This is just one of the times over the past few weeks that he has told me exactly what he was doing, what he wants to do, what he doesn’t want to do.

I had a realization that day while the munchkins were sorting. I realized that up until recently I had to interpret my sons actions and small amounts of verbal communication in the best way that I possibly could. But it turned out that many times, surprise surprise, I had no clue what he was actually communicating to me. No wonder we were both frustrated! No wonder that sometimes we still are.

It seems that every new stage he goes through, I am re-introduced to my child. It’s not that I didn’t know him before. That just isn’t the case. We understood each other in that stage and now we are moving on to another stage. In this new stage we will learn to understand and enjoy each other. Once we enter yet another new stage, we will get to know each other again.

Jasmine is a co-housing, home birthing, missions minded, community living mama with a passion for fierce writing. She blogs.

The Days of Our Lives

I had a chat with another mother which is not remarkable in and of itself but apparently our conversation was. At the end of the conversation we were discussing how other parents we had been around did not talk about these types of things. How sometimes they left you with this feeling of guilt and frustration, a feeling of being the lesser parent.4536426458_1e09cb59fa

So what was our conversation about? The days of our lives. The toddler days.

Toddler days are filled with wonder and agony. Now this may be fairly dramatic but it seems like that is what a toddler day is: chaos, enjoyment, laughing, and tears (sometimes from both mother and child). We discussed how you are told how things are “supposed” to work and how you are “supposed” to feel and act. We especially got a chuckle out of the whole “take a break” rule; how a mom should “take a break” during an especially difficult toddler moment to think through options and get herself under control. However, the exact difficulty is caused because she can’t possibly take a moment for herself because her toddler is in some sort of screaming crisis. A “break” is exactly what is wanted/needed and a break is exactly what we aren’t going to get.
Continue reading “The Days of Our Lives”

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