This is sort of a journal type entry written for my own benefit but you can read it if you feel so inclined.My kids are relatively well behaved. They never (I may be jinxing myself here) write on walls or rip pages out of books. They don't climb the curtains (and this isn't only because we don't have any. I'm sure they wouldn't if we did) or hit other kids at school. They're tame. They're good. I believe there are three likely reasons for this: 1) they are calm kids by nature 2) I'm a stickler for not letting them do anything I don't want them to from the very first time they try and 3) We are only given what we can handle and I could not handle hyper kids.
I love watching those parenting shows. Little Angels, Tanya Byron's House of Tiny Taraways, Supernanny etc. It's so surprising to see what some kids get away with. I love cheering the mother on when she's following the counselors advice. I love seeing the change that comes over the entire family when the parents learn what behavior of their own they need to change in order to change their children's. I love that I can always anticipate what advice they will be given because it's very logical to me (and maybe because it's what I studied in school).
But I see those mothers, too. The desperate single mother who's convinced that her four year old wants nothing more than to rile her up all day every day. While following a new bedtime routine she takes her son back to his bed 30 times saying calmly, "Good night" as she walks out the door over and over and over. And then he whines one more time and she goes into his room and throws off his blanket and screams in his face "WHAT DO YOU WANT!?! JUST GO. TO. SLEEP!!!" Very, very loudly.
I'm thinking, am I so supposed to be shocked that a mother would do that? I feel so much empathy for this poor mother. And I have screamed in my own kid's faces before. I mean screamed. And I've never even had bedtime issues. And I know all those tricks you use to get good behavior. And my kids are generally good.
They're not perfect, though. And I'm even less so. Lately I have felt awful that I yell at my kids so much. It is often almost my first reaction when they do something wrong or whine about something silly.
Last Friday I had an awful migraine. Or it might have been my blood sugar. I had a terrible headache, I was nauseated and lightheaded, shaky and I just felt like bawling. Greg was at a business dinner and David was whining about everything. And I mean everything. He would not do what I asked and I was just waaaaay past my limit and I went up to him and I held his shoulders and screamed in his face.
Of course I felt terrible about this later. Terrible. Even though I knew I wasn't being myself, I realize that I just shout at the kids all the time. Pretty much daily. Some days are worse than others.
On the drive to church on Sunday Greg had recorded a lecture from some Perry Symposium (or something) in which the speaker talked about the omission of the "without a cause" from after the "He that is angry with his brother." The talk was compelling. I mean, I know that we know that the "without a cause" was an addition to the original text, but it was fascinating to hear about the various versions and how and why it was added etc.
The talk was very academic. There was very little talk of the gospel or any sort of sentiment in the telling. But it was very striking. After an hour long speech, he ended with evidence that we are not meant to be angry (including a rebuttal to the common "What about Jesus and the money changers in the temple" argument.) His closing paragraph was a short. I don't even remember what he said. I just remember feeling that there was no room in my home or life for shouting. I knew it about anger in general, but I felt it about shouting in specific.
As if I didn't know that before! Duh! As if I didn't feel bad any time I yelled at the kids. As if I didn't pray to be a more patient mother all the time. But this was just one of those moments of change.
This week I didn't yell at my kids. Well, I started to maybe 4 times. I would ask them to do something and they wouldn't do it a few times in a row, then I'd ask them one more time a few minutes later and whining would ensue (this is what makes me mad. They should be apologizing for not doing it earlier, not whining that I was going finally force them to do it!) I would start in with the stupid, "I've asked you to do this 4 times. . ." in a raised voice, totally ready to be MAD. Then I stopped myself and said, "Okay, I'm not going to yell. . ." and magically I didn't feel mad at ALL! And the kids smiled! And happily did what I asked (sort of).
So I feel like I just was not angry with my kids this week. We even had FHE about anger and specifically shouting. We've all decided that it doesn't belong in our home. Aaron had just recently started yelling "NOOOOOO" very loudly when he didn't get his way, and I know he learned it from all of us (the kids yelled at each other a lot, too). I really hope we can completely reverse this.
It's working so far, and I'm feeling really good about it. It feels so nice to have control over myself. I feel like I'm finally starting to set a good example for my kids. Finally.