There are many things a mother needs.
Children, is a good place to start.
A television, an iPhone and a constant supply of wine would not go astray.
But also friends.
Every mum needs friends.
And not just the kinds of friends that you can text and say ‘my kids are driving me mad’ or ‘The power is off, the tv is not working, my iPhone is broken and there is no wine in the house,’ but other friends that you can call, whenever, whatever, and say, ‘Help me. The Wheels have come off.’
I have one of those friends.
She is Amazing. In fact I think we shall call her Amazing Advice Friend. Or AAF for short.
I’ve know AAF for a while; but it’s only been the last few years, since doing many parenting courses with her facilitating, that our friendship has blossomed.
I’ve called her when Bailey was a little baby, and absolutely refused to sleep. When Taylah went through a constant stage of lying. When Bailey was a bigger boy and refused to sleep.
And just lately, when Bridie pushed all my buttons so much, I was almost ready to give her away.
Bridie is strong willed at the best of times, but just lately, has been exceptionally hard. She is arguing over EVERY. LITTLE. THING. She refuses to be wrong on anything; even simple things like the day of the week. She hates to say sorry. Absolutely hates it. And ask her to admit that any actions she has done are wrong, and she will argue till she is blue in the face, that she is completely justified.
It is exhausting.
Now no one likes to be constantly fighting, but because my goal in parenting is heart training, this to me, is so much worse. What it shows is a proud little girl, with little respect for authority, and a desire to be top dog.
And that’s not going to get her very far.
So when, on Saturday, an argument over everything left her screaming at me in her room I rang Amazing Advice Friend, and asked for help.
I felt like I had nothing left to give.
The best thing about Amazing Advice Friend, is that she listens without judgement, and instead of saying, ‘you need to do this…’ she asks me a whole bunch of questions, until, usually, I’ve pretty much worked it out myself.
The big problem, at the moment, is what we would call ‘too many freedoms.’
Remember the story of the Red Cup Blue Cup? The small child who was choosing everything all day, without his mother even realising it? In ChildWise, we refer to this as a child who has too much freedom, that they aren’t morally responsible enough for.
With Bridie, it’s not a case of being able to choose what book she reads or what clothes she wears; at almost six, those are age appropriate choices she should have.
No, the problem we are having with her is verbal freedoms; what she is, and isn’t allowed to say.
In our home, every command by Boatman and I should be met with a ‘yes mum’ or ‘yes dad.’ This is so that we know they have heard us, but also that they have agreed to do it. (A note: with younger kids, they are more likely to do what they say they will do, so getting them to answer ‘yes mum I will clean up my toys’ is usually met with more compliance than just telling them to do it.)
Of course, there are times when a blanket ‘yes mum’ is not enough. There may be some information I don’t know, or something I’m not aware of. I’m not a dictator; I’m reasonable. In these situations, the kids are taught to say, ‘yes mum, please may I appeal?’ (I realise it sounds formal, but there is not much else that says the same thing. )
The problem was, although Bridie knew what our standards were, she was completely ignoring them, instead meeting every request with a ‘but…’ or worse. I was then engaging in an argument, and both of us were ending upset and cranky.
Under the advice of AAF, I have changed what I’m doing. Instead of fighting or arguing, or trying to prove me right (and her wrong), once she has started, I have answered simply and calmly ‘you don’t have the freedom to speak to me like that.’
Sometimes this has been met with tears and tantrums, but most of the time, it is accepted with a meek ‘yes mum.’ There is no emotion or drama; just a quiet acceptance that I have caught on to her, and I won’t accept it anymore.
Amazingly, in the past 36 hours since I have been doing this, she is a different kid. She has barely had any tantrums, has been kind to her siblings, and generally very happy to help.
Most kids know when they are getting away with things that they shouldn’t be; if we allow them to, they actually live in guilt, and everything becomes harder. Once we as their parents become vigilant and uphold the standard, it forces them to comply, but it also removes the remorse from their wrong actions.
We still have a long way to go with Miss Bridie, and it’s easy to relax things once they get easy again, but I am determined to remain vigilant, not just for my own sanity, but for the sake of her heavily burdened conscience.
Do you sometimes worry about them heart condition based on their actions?