Sunday, October 10, 2010

Parenting 202

Thank you for the kind words. I spent so much time (time = $) seeing a shrink; I want my children to avoid repeating the process. I learned so much from that experience that has made it easier to deal with the rest of the world. One part of which is respecting another's boundaries.

"What's wrong?" sounds nice and considerate, but it isn't. There's no simple way of refusing to answer without sounding like you're rejecting the person's care for you. "Can I help you?" or even better, "Do you need help?" are easily answered with yes or no. If someone is that distraught, they're probably already at the point of monosyllabic answers. Last night I was talking to someone, who I noticed is more stressed out than usual. I care about this person and want them to be less stressed. Will demanding "what's wrong?" reduce the stress? No. Better question: "Do you know what's bothering you?" My next sentence is going to vary dramatically depending on whether his answer is yes or no. I try to apply this to the Jr.Gophers, to respect their feelings.

Additionally, I try to get them to express their emotions, something others aren't very in-tune with. I've tried to find a way to tell them how I'm feeling when they really, really piss me off. But i want them to have some gradation in this. I don't want them to think there is an on/off switch - Mom's angry or she's not. I had to deal with this with my mom's boyfriend, who singlehandedly contributed to a large amount of stupid shit hanging like an albatross around my psyche. I try to let them have free rein to tell me that they're angry with me (or anything else). Or tell them "you're starting to aggravate me". So, don't be surprised if you hear Gregor use that word - I heard it last week. "mama, you're aggravating me". It took so much effort to keep a straight face while asking him why.

Rather than paint Life as right and wrong (which, yes, DO exist), I try to leave that to morality or ethics, and not apply that black & white polarity to things like table manners or other mundanity which are categorized as rude/polite or appropriate/inappropriate.

One of the things I heard which drives the point home about expectations we have of children: seriously, he's only 3 years old! Now, just keep adding a year to this as he grows up. We don't often stop and consider that our expectations of children shouldn't be the same. This approach should segue into assessing our expectations for adults as individuals, rather than en mass.

Man, it gets so frustrating hearing a child ask you the EXACT SAME QUESTION repeatedly. Not just a few times in one day, but without any other communication in between.
Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Michigan. Where are we going? Norway. ... no we're not, Mom!

Right around the 3rd answer, I have to keep telling my self "does it really matter how many times I give him the same answer? Really, is it going to kill me to say "Michigan" 40 times?" The answer to *that* question is obviously, no. So, I might as well do it. It's just that after the 10th or 15th time, when I'm SOOOOO bored, I occasionally resort to changing the answer in a radically different way. Inevitably, he notices and laughs.

Keep asking yourself "Does this REALLY matter?" no matter what the situation is.

Ask yourself: Do I ABSOLUTELY NEED to say anything? Quite often the answer to this ought to be no. Hell, you're not even obliged to answer anthing to the police or the judicial system. Why feel that way socially? e.g.

Person #1: I hate your shirt.
I am likely to say nothing, and get on with my life. So she hates it? So what? What would I get by disagreeing with a personal opinion? Not to mention, this isn't a question and grammatically requires no response.

Person #1: Do you know your opinion is wrong/stupid/etc?
This is a question, but so what? You're not obliged to answer it, are you? If you're not obliged to, why give yourself the stress of interacting with this person at all? Ignore her completely. Are you obliged to interact with someone who's rude to you? No! We too often feel we must respond to someone just because the spoke to us. Boy, that took a long time to realize. Of course, the response to their question can always be your own:

Person #1: Do you know you look like a dyke with that hair cut?
You: Did you know you're a rude asshole who's interrupting my lunch? Go away.

I try to treat the boys the same way I want to be treated, or the way that I want them to treat other people. I lose my temper occasionally; no, I'm far from a saint. It's given me practice dealing with inveterate assholes in the Adult World, too.

"That Is Totally Inappropriate" can usually be substituted for "Go Fuck Your Self" without adversely effecting one's professional status. I have yet to experience an occupational situation where the latter was really called for, although I can imagine one or two where I might. And I actually contemplated it once.

Yes, I can look at my parents and think "what in the name of all that's holy were you thinking?" just as much as I know both of my children could say the same thing in 40 years, God willing I'm still alive to hear it.

My mission statement about parenting:
I want my children to grow up to be men who are capable of loving themselves and loving others.
Anything else is just icing on the cake.

Really, what else is truly necessary in life? Being self-sufficient? Self-sufficiency is an American Myth and doesn't exist. Why brainwash my children to seek something that doesn't exist? Literacy, monetary wealth, children of their own, their own home, ... ?? How will those make you a better human being?

If there is anything else that you can point at and say "You failed as a mother because your son can't _____", be prepared to be told your opinion is inappropriate.

1 comment:

ccyager said...

Hear, hear....amen!