This post has been on my heart, just been having a hard time finding the words to put it together. Today was icy and having wrecked on ice before I was not feeling brave enough to make the 30 minute drive to church. Luckily, my church is awesome and streams online.
Shout out to the preacher man, Seth Baltzell, for giving me the trigger I needed to write this. His sermon was about friendship in our relationships. While this post is not on point with his sermon, there was one part that really struck me, that the only thing we know about friendship is what we have seen growing up. He mentioned that most of our parents are/were divorced, so in friendship and in parenting we do not have the greatest examples. Then we continue the cycle with our friendships and kids because it is what we have learned. My parents did not divorce until I was out of the house but even as a kid I do not remember seeing love between them.
I am so very blessed to love my job. Seriously, I love the people I work with and I love what I do. Most mornings at the office are spent catching up with my friend/coworker. We talk about everything, life, love, food, everything. She probably does not realize how much I look forward to our morning chats. =) She also probably does not realize that she gave me one of the greatest compliments I have ever heard.
To paraphrase, she said that she loved how I have been so intentional in speaking my differences, specifically in my parenting/personality than from what I had learned.
We all have stories. Some of them are great, some of them not so great. This is about the not so great.
*Disclaimer* I don’t write this to discredit my parents for all the right things they did. They were doing as they had learned. I just know that there are others that can relate to my story and hopefully this helps them become intentional.
Yelling. That is what I remember in my house. Growing up, I remember yelling. Bad grade = yelling. Bad game = yelling. Home late = yelling. Talk back = yelling. Lie = yelling.
Lying. That became my defense, I was even pretty good at it. It was my way of escaping the yelling. Things that should not have been a big deal, always were in my house, so I lied, even about the things that did not matter. Sometimes lying worked, I evaded it and sometimes it did not, the yelling was just worse.
Good grades are important, but a B should not elicit a 2-3 hour yelling lecture asking what was wrong with me. Honesty is important but lying about writing a note to a boy or even kissing a boy should not elicit being called a slut. I was 12 the first time I heard that, from my mom.
I have only been a parent for about 14 months. I am no expert, nor do I claim to be. But I am determined that some things will be different. It was about 3 months into our journey as foster parents, when I had my “ah hah” moment.
Truthfully, I cannot remember what my son had done but I remember he would not stay in timeout and that had become a constant. I lost my cool, got on his level, and yelled at him. I know lots of you moms are thinking “…okay and???” Because I am sure most you have done the same. His reaction is what really got to me. My then four-year-old son, did not back down or change his behavior, he yelled in my face. Literally, he just yelled. He did not say anything, he just yelled.
That night I cried to my husband and relayed some of my childhood memories and how much I did not want that to continue. I did not want my children to remember yelling. I do not want my kids to be scared of me. I want them to respect me and to feel safe in our home. Not only that, but this yelling method obviously was not effective. All he was hearing, was the yelling, not the words behind it. Just like it was not effective when I was younger, I chose lying instead of yelling back.
That night I intentionally spoke — That would be the last time that happened in our house. Since then I have continued this same intentional practice. I do not live in some fantasy world, voices still occasionally get raised in our house but the yelling is gone.
Besides yelling, I remember the words. “What’s wrong with you?” “Are you stupid?” “Why would you think that’s a good idea?” “I’ve done all this for you and this is how you repay me?” I was once called a b!+c# because a friend and I detoured to get snow cones on our way to meet the pizza delivery guy and were late.
As a little girl, I was sensitive. My parents talk about how easy it was for me to cry. They say, “I could look at you wrong and you’d cry.” Some of my friends would probably be surprised to hear that about me. I am the calm, sarcastic, laid back, not overly emotional friend. That may be me now, but I will never forget the sting of those words. I know all kids are impacted differently but I cringe when a parent asks their child what is wrong with them when they do something wrong. Nothing. Nothing is wrong with your child. They might be stressed, or emotional, or sad, or hyper and made a poor decision. That is okay. That does not mean there is something wrong with them.
I am intentional now. I am not perfect. My examples were not either. But I am intentionally changing what I learned. I am intentional with my words and how I react. There is a quote that gets shared on the internet that I love. My goal as a parent is to raise children that won’t have to recover from their childhood. Let us all be intentional in that goal.