I am writing this today because I think I just need a place and a way to talk about these things without feeling there would be some sort of personal confrontation over it. It is something that is close to my heart as an issue. I am a very emotional person- I just really feel things very deeply sometimes- so I always approach the way I look at things from that perspective (I just can't help it, you guys). I can look at my life now, and look at my life as a child, and see from where some of my
This inner dialogue started today after a conversation I had with a parent and her boyfriend here at work. Let me see if I can get the point across without writing a book (though I can't promise anything-haha!): The woman comes in and is asking if I know of any programs that might help her daughter enjoy reading. Apparently said daughter is in 4th grade and may end up failing. At first I thought this was just about her daughter's reading skills, but the more the mother
According to mom, this child "can do the work but is just lazy," likes to just "mess with her," will perform better for others (because when she's with mom she just wants mom to do the work for her), and hates to read. According to the boyfriend, "she likes white people better"...... (I'm only throwing this in so you can hopefully grasp the ignorance.)
The fact that she is still talking to me, and venting in this way, I can't help but to react to the situation as if she was asking me for help. So I started putting my feelers out, asking questions like: "Do you think she's been made to feel inferior at school or in her learning environment?" I never really got much of an answer, mostly just more complaining about the child.
I do want to interject and say: I get it. Sometimes a child plus all of the regular daily responsibilities of being an adult can be overwhelming. Sometimes you just need to talk to someone and it doesn't even matter if they are listening- you just gotta blurt that garbage out. Kudos! It's way better to get it out and not lash it out at your child. Sometimes I think parents really are just overwhelmed and they don't know what to do to control it, so it gets directed at the child. I think this was a case of the latter.
I based this mostly on the fact of mom's freely given info about herself- "I'm old school and I just ain't gonna put up with it. I'll knock her out and she knows I'll knock her out. I just don't have the patience when she starts doing that."- I ask, "Do you think she just needs more patience?" Mom is kinda huffy, but not at me so much as her exasperation with the child. Apparently having patience is not in mom's bag of tricks.
I tell mom, "I'm not judging you, I just know that even though my sister and I were raised by the same parent- our mom wasn't around, our dad raised us- that we still had different ways of dealing with things. I always sort of rolled with things, but, around the same age as your daughter, she started making bad grades and getting into trouble. I didn't realize until I was in my 20s that my sister was not a bad kid, she just needed a different kind of attention than I did."
Then, later, when she comes in with her daughter I get to see the interaction. I don't think people always realize how much they tell on themselves with just simple words and gestures. I see her talking down to her daughter; I see her literally smack her for asking to check out a book???? (Wasn't she WANTING her to get better at reading?) Then I see, when I pull her away and ask her what she likes and I start showing her books that she might be interested in, she perks up. She is VERY interested in what I'm showing her. I almost see an excitement in her eyes.
So, I give you this short story length situation just to come to this: every person is different. Don't be so self involved that you can't see that your child may need something different than you did when you were raised. "I'm just old school" is no longer a valid excuse for not being an emotionally supportive parent. Also, when you say you have a bad kid (are you ready for this? I'm gonna say it....) YOU ARE TELLING ON YOURSELF. You are telling whoever you are complaining to that you are too self involved to recognize the needs of your child/children.
Whether 2 or 20, if someone is "acting out," there is something deeper and conflicting going on within them. We may not be able to reach out and heal the whole world, but I feel like it is our job as parents to be in tune to our child enough to recognize their individual needs. I am not saying that a parent should never have "me time" or should be infinitely patient (I certainly know I'm not....). I'm not saying you should be chastised if you want someone to watch your kid to have a night out, or if you want them to be quiet long enough to finish watching your favorite show. I'm not saying you should be an emotional martyr. I am saying that instead of approaching your child from the view of what is most convenient for you, you should approach them with the question "What is it that he/she needs from me?"
You don't have to be a bad parent to not meet your child's emotional needs. Sometimes I really do think it is just trial and error. We can't always get it right on the money the first, second, or even third time; what we can do is stop and analyze the situation from the view point of the child.
So let's all try to be more sensitive to our children's needs. Let's all take a step back and breathe when they throw that fit for the hundredth time while you're trying to finish supper and vacuuming at the same time, or when they hit puberty and all of a sudden you feel like the enemy. Just because they are no longer an infant does not mean they know exactly how to communicate- or heck, even understand- their needs and emotions (I'm 30 and sometimes I STILL don't....) So let's not take it personal and just ask ourselves "What does my child need from me?"