Little Miss Trouble & Mr. Men
I thought I'd post this entry early on and in light of my experiences of late.
What am I going to write about?
- What makes us special?
- Emotional expression..
- Santa Clause coming to town..
- Time outs/walking away from a child/re-directing...
- Cyber judgement ...
How do all these relate to me?... well, it's all how increasingly concerned I've become with society and parents' impact on the self-esteem, confidence and respect of a child.
I have been seeing a psychologist most of this year now in order to organise my thoughts with suspected depression, anxiety, post-natal depression (PND). What has come to light is my unrelenting high standards and extreme levels of self sacrifice. My childhood, schooling and home life influences have in totality encouraged me to believe that I am special not because of who I am, but because of what I do. In order to feel special, valuable in this life, I feel I NEED to do things for everyone else.
We have all read the thoooousands of affirmations and mantras about giving to others.. what you give you get... what you sow you reap... what you send out will come back..
Well.. I'd like to also add that there needs to be a level of self respect and selfishness.. self love... Give to yourself as well. ... that it is also important to have Equal Energy Exchange.
I would like to extend this to raising our children!
There is another soul in that tiny body... another being thinking and feeling in that still developing skull. Our children are not inferior to us as adults.
(In fact I'd like to controversially say that we as adults are inferior to those beautiful, loving, unconditional souls..
Anyway, moving on..)
To the kids: Behave, Behave, Behave.
Our children don't get off the ipad straight away when we ask them to go to the table; they want to spend a little more time playing with cars or playdough before getting in the car to go shopping; we want them to move along in the shopping centre instead of window shopping; ...
High expectations on behaving after we tell our children what we want them to do. We highly praise them, smile, give them cuddles when they are quiet, behaving 'correctly'... we indirectly tell them that we are happy with them and love them when they are doing/behaving the way we want them to.
We tell them Santa only gives presents to girls and boys who have been nice - you behave well, you get gifts and love.
Our love is over and over and over taught to our kids as conditional on their behaviour - when they are upset, crying, 'tantruming' we will not show them love.
Yes, you can say we are just letting them know the behaviour is unacceptable.. but that's not how it translates to a child... you are teaching them that the child themselves is not acceptable, not enough to be loved in that way.
To the title of this post... I was reading a Mr. Men book to Marika and her cousin.. I bought some of these books before Marika was born as I saw such cuteness in all the qualities of a littly - the cheekiness, the battling, the physical explorations.. Different story now. I've read up... I've experienced my words and they're effects in such a short time already (having a 3 year old and a 1 year old)...
These book characters are all materialised on their behaviour (or in fact their appearance) - Mr. Clumsy, Miss Trouble, Mr. Small. They are summarised, judged, expected upon, name-called on the one attribute.
My eyes widened.. characters punching each other, nasty talking behind their back... the solution?? get other characters of the book to do the SAME thing to the main character and conclude:
"Doctor Makeyouwell looked at her.
'Cheer up', he said.
'You know what you've just had, don't you?'
Little Miss Trouble shook her head.
'A taste of your own medicine', he chuckled.
And went home.
Actually, lovely little person.. you know what you just had?
A terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE lesson about how inconsiderate, nasty, unforgiving, malicious, un-empathetic an adult has been towards you while teaching other characters how to bully. This Dr. "Makeyouwell" did not make you well, he patronised you... did not try to understand what brought you to express yourself in that way and to help you express yourself in a more healthy way for everyone.
In all honesty, that's what happens... we try to shut a child up when they are upset... try to get them to smile straight away... to stick food, a drink, a toy, a breast in their mouth every time they cry. We try to FIX them. Or, even worse we shun them for tantruming and dismiss their cry for help to process the emotional frustrations that they are having and don't understand. A child falls over, "Hop up; you're alright! Stop crying.. shake it off.. it's just a scratch."
Child A takes a toy off Child B, so Child B hits Child A.. Child A hits Child B back." Both children are crying. It's not uncommon (rather, it's COMMON) to hear "Welllll, you hit Child A!.. *looks at the kid "so what do you want me to do about it?"*"
"Well you took the toy away from the other child, so you got what was coming."
We give a time out for a behaviour instead of a time-in for the emotional plea. We walk away from a tantrum or aggressive nature instead of staying close/nearby and allowing them to feel safe and loved themselves.. to have someone touch them in love via a hug or holding hands despite their "body's natural fear reaction gone awry." (See "Feelings, Behaviors, and Relationships" link below)
How about, consider the emotional needs of your child in that moment. Any lessons you have for them, or actions they could take next time - bring them up when it all calms down and the child can cognitively process what you're saying!...
I read an article based off the book "Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control", called "Feelings, Behaviors, and Relationships" at http://www.beyondconsequences.com/feelings.pdf who succinctly and briefly discusses the emotional needs of children and the physical, desperate pleas for help to process emotional confusion: "If we see the kicking and screaming child as one who is having difficulty regulating due to an overflow of feelings, we can learn to stay present with the child in order to help him modulate these feelings and thus, help him to build his emotional regulatory system."
Let the kids FEEL the emotions and PROCESS the emotions.. Allow them to feel accepted to feel like they need to. To feel safe to express all their emotions... Children are not those feelings and emotions. Seperate your view of the child as how they behave and see them for who they are.
Then, add to all THAT... more authoritarian, aggressive/passive parenting - there's scheduled feeding from the start, controlled crying, forced bedtimes, forced clothing, forced hugs with relatives, no snacks until one of 3 meal times or you'll wreck your dinner, finish your meal or no dessert
... we teach them not to trust their hunger cues, their body's messages, their own rights to personal space.
By having faith in our children to know their own bodies and to help them through each lesson and emotion does not make for "those bloody selfish, resenting, younger generation who shows no gratitude for others or their possessions"
... in fact, I hazzard a guess it would make for a very self-respecting, confident, respectful, caring, emotionally stable, independent adult.. who can especially come to me to discuss the "negative" experiences/anything in their life no matter what. (As a side note, NO I don't have to put my foot down to THAT behaviour now with a 2/3 year old because it's easier now than later... it just doesn't make sense in the bigger picture!... putting my foot down and working through the emotional frustration BEHIND the behaviour is where I'll focus thank you so very muchly).
To the adults: STFU
I read a blog entry http://m.jezebel.com/5968243/fuck-you-breastfeeding where a lady poured her heart out of her traumatising breastfeeding experience - she was mad, angry, hurt, disgusted, fuming, swearing and cursing, blaming .. and just all out snapped. I came across it as a link from a facebook page who are (supposed) supporters to and devoted to breastfeeding.
WELL... The comments that came... they wanted to SHAME the blog author, called her names, patronized her, criticizing the language, laughed at her, stating that no matter how bad the author had it THEY had it worse...
Wow! I was disturbed. Finally, someone came on asking where all "the loony lactavist people these articals keep going on about?" are.
I'm flabbergasted. It's not obvious that a lot of those judgmental, criticizing, angry "breastfeeding nazis" (I HHHAAAATE that term) are right there... in that thread...???
This lady needed the right help support for her when she was breastfeeding.. she asked for help and still couldn't get the right help... she is now still hurt from it all and just as much needs help now as she would have back then...
Yet instead of empathising (which I soooo so so so can), she is hypocritically judged, for judging!
Now with adults, we don't stick food/ drinks/ breast in their mouth... although we are teaching our kids to feed those emotions away.. with emotional eating... or numb the feelings with alcohol... bottle those feelings up because they are just NOT ON. With adults, we are just downright rude and open about telling each other to take that emotional turmoil elsewhere. We are happy to share all those fluffy affirmations about understanding each other, to put yourself in another's shoes... but there's apparently a line when it comes to swear words... or.. or .. or.
UNDERSTANDING, EMPATHY, RESPECT OF ANOTHER, NON-JUDGING, UNDERSTANDING THAT YOU STILL DON'T KNOW ANOTHER PERSON'S LIFE NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU KNOW, ...
Ironically, writing this post carries its own judgment.. but there's always subjectivity and sensitivities when it comes to parenting and I'm not writing my PhD on this at 6pm on a loooong damn hot day lol
Additionally, I am far, far, far, FAAAAR from practising what I preach. I have spent the last few months having daily battles with Marika (3 year old). I fight and fight to ensure we aren't talking about her behaviour... I take us to the "How are you feeling..." wall and try to help her express her happy/ angry/ sad/ scared feelings... I remove myself from the room... I remove Marika from the room.. I scream... I confiscate... I witness myself contradicting all the above advice over and over... failing my own advice...
... but I re-take the oath every night... to be more understanding of my daughters and myself the next day.. I always kiss the girls goodnight, let them know I love them...
I don't always do this with my husband, family members and other adults ... but that's a work in progress.
It is for all of the above reasons to why I have started blogging:
- I will let out/ vent/ purge all my emotions because they are all healthy to feel... I will experiment with how I express them... I will stand and boast I see a psychologist and get professional help to do this... especially for the good of my girls as they see a healthier mother and a role model.. I will advocate to support any other person trying to use this medium for the same reason as we are all trying to learn our own different lessons perspectively.
- I will advocate to be there for our kids unconditionally to be free agents and loved by at least one person on this planet who will pledge to understand EVERY moment they have. and not give-in to the strong programming from the majority of parenting/mainstreaming we received to "Put kids in their place and submit.".. Our children are who they are because of who they ARE, not what they DO.
- I am not perfect. In fact.. I am a real mother who hoards, yells, doesn't clean the kitchen every day (or every 2nd or 3rd day).. who yesterday bought Mcdonalds for the toddler after her exercise class because I was too tired and could use the excuse of having a bad headache.. who is still trying to wean the 3 year old off the bottle filled with juice (albeit heavily diluted juice.. ..bottled juice.. not home juiced) that she uses as a comfort... who gave chocolate to the 1 year old before she was 1... who watches shows from time to time like "Sons of Anarchy" or movies like "Ted" with the toddler in the room but will still pause/ fast forward/ etc. thinking that that's okay I need my "Me time"... I judge myself.. then accept myself... I cringe at my actions... then I learn from them... I read and educate myself then grow and change... but I will regress like any other human being.
I was told that some people just need to read that there are other REAL women, mothers, wives out there that are nowhere near the Stepford variety, but still thriving against the overwhelming expectations and pressure of society.
Blogging is my oyster!
Lots of love,