Can I admit something to you? I've become somewhat lazy in the parenting department lately.
I've allowed my children more tv & computer time than they should have.
I have intervened in fewer arguments & haven't doled out consequences where I should have.
I haven't enforced chores as diligently as I should.
I've allowed too much snacking & too much of it is junk.
I do far too many things for my children that they should be doing for themselves (such as packing their lunch).
I've been distracted & don't listen as closely to them as I should
And, I've been rushing through bedtime prayers & have done far less reading of the Bible with them/ talking about God's love as I should.
I see these things happening and I've felt too exhausted & frustrated to do anything about it. It hasn't happened all at once. It's been a gradual movement in this direction. The problem is it's a movement that I know will gain momentum if I don't address it now.
Let's face it - it's sometimes easier to just let things slide. And, I really do get tired of constantly being vigilant.
I could make excuses about how my husband has been really busy again & I feel like most of the parenting responsibilites are falling on me. Or I could tell you how winter is tough over all & what we really need is for spring to come around again. I could also mention that I really do need a break. That I'm craving time alone, to get away.
And while all this is true, the fact is, the parenting still needs to be done. And, lazy parenting just isn't cutting it. My kids aren't happy. I'm not happy. And, I don't want to continue down the slippery slope of sloppy parenting.
But then there are other times when I'm just at a complete loss of how to deal with a parenting situation. This morning was one of those times. My oldest two had no school so they had to come along to my mom's meeting that I attend every other Friday. There was child-care provided for the older children that day.
My one son is very shy & uncomfortable in new situations. I know this about him. So I wasn't surprised when he had already begun complaining early in the morning that he didn't want to go and he 'was NOT' going to his room. I told him first thing in the morning that he had no other choice, that mommy had responsibilities (I help set up the brunch), and this is just what he had to do today.
After dragging his feet all morning and waiting until the last minute to get dressed and get his shoes on, we were finally out the door. After dropping my personal items off in our meeting room, I then took the children to the child-care wing. The little two, who come with me every time, were dropped off at their rooms with no problem. Then, we found the room where the school-age children would be that day, and my social, outgoing schoolage son went in immediately with no problem. The other son, the one uncomfortable with change & the unfamiliar, dug in his heels. He refused to go in.
We were already running late because I had to take an alternate route to the church due to traffic issues. The other mom who helps set up brunch was already working on the brunch table and I needed to get out to help her. So, my hackles went up pretty quickly. I had already discussed this with my son in the morning and I did not have time for his disobedience.
The situation escalated. I tried placing him in his room. But, he's no longer a toddler who I can physically move to where he needs to be. This is a schoolage boy-man who I was not going to engage in a wrestling match. He ran out of the room. He was defiant despite all my warnings about privileges he was losing by not obeying....even taking away our beloved Friday family fun night from him had no effect.
I started to become desperate & I could feel tears stinging my eyes. I didn't know what else to do. I walked out toward the brunch area to let the other mom know I hadn't forgotten about helping, with my son tailing close behind. I tried calling my husband, but because we were inside the church the reception kept going out in the middle of our conversation & his conversation with our son.
I could not hide the fact that I was angry. Furious really. And, the tears kept threatening to come as I saw other moms I knew who were arriving for the meeting. And, along with the anger came embarrassment. Here I was, a long-time member of this mom's group, one of the oldest women there, a member of the steering team and I could not get my 8 year old son to obey me. One of my friends suggested I let him come into the meeting with me. But, I knew this was exactly what my son wanted to do & by allowing him to do something I'd already told him he couldn't would be backing down.
I wish I could say there was an 'aha' moment of clarity about how to handle the situation I was in. But, there really wasn't. As a matter of fact, as I type this almost 2 hours later I'm still upset. We did get through on the phone to my husband again. He talked to my son. And, eventually he did go in his room.
At lunch, my husband comes home to eat and I explained the events of the morning in detail to him. He and I both talked to our son about the severity of outright defiance. My son seemed to understand that his actions were wrong. And, the consequence of losing family fun night stands. He will go to his room this evening while the rest of us enjoy a family movie.
And, I still feel horrible. But, now there is guilt thrown in there too. Was there something different I could have done? If I hadn't gotten angry so quickly could I have reasoned with him?
What can a parent do when a situation throws them for a loop and they are at a loss? As a mom I'm constantly thinking on my feet. And, sometimes, I don't have any ideas left.
I don't know if I have a positive way to end this post. I'm sorry about that. I guess the one thing that I've been hanging on to lately is a verse from James.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:5
This verse may become a key parenting verse for me. Because, boy, sometimes I lack wisdom. I need to keep reminding myself over and over that I need to ask God for it and He will give it.