I am gradually working on becoming a connected and attached parent, which is a big change and we are still getting there. I am finding that the more leeway I give and the more respect I try to show to his feelings my 7 year old seems to be behaving more and more selfishly and disrepectfully. Having said that, he is more caring towards his siblings, but more reluctant to do anything that he doesn’t want to do. I expected that there would be a transition, but the “selfish” and “uncooperative” behaviour (my husband’s judgement, not mine) is increasing the resistance that I am getting from others. They have always insisted that I am going to spoil them and turn them into little “youknowwhats” and the turn for the worse proves it. My decision to homeschool has caused the most trouble, and every little incident is taken to be evidence of the huge detriment I am causing by taking him out of school. Thank you! Kate
I love what you say here, “…he is more caring towards his siblings, but more reluctant to do anything that he doesn’t want to do.” This is exactly what you want to see in a child who is well connected and not afraid of parental control. He feels heard and loved and therefore more content in relating to siblings. And, he won’t do what he does not want to do meaning that he is assertive, self-assured, and authentic.
It is harmful for a child to do do things that go against his own feelings. You don’t want your son to fall for peer pressure, to be swayed by media, comply with molesters, or reject his own inner voice in any way. The ability to listen to himself starts in his relationship with you. What a wonderful change you have made. All that is left is for you to recognize your success and support your child’s new directions.
A seven-year-old child should be focused on himself. Growing up into an adult is a full time job not only for him, but for a few adults who nurture him. When he complied with your wishes, he was obviously not authentic. He was doing things you considered good behavior out of fear and in order to please you and get your love and approval. As you change your parenting way, you must also let go of your expectations, so you can
discover who your child is.
Being loving and kind is unconditional; it is not intended as a way to manipulate the child to behave in a particular way. Let him focus on himself. In the long run, he will be a more caring person, because he won’t have a memory of resenting having to care about others at the cost of his own will. This does not mean that a child must always get what he wants. It does mean that we arrange life to flow for him as much as possible, and that when things are not possible, we are not the cause. We can then listen and validate and he will connect with us because we are not the cause of his upset.
To be connected to your child means to understand him and support his direction. I know what you are saying, “But some things have to be done.” Yet, most of what we think must be done, is not really crucial nor respectful to the child. It is often the adult agenda imposed on the child. Instead of thinking about the child having to do things, think of ways to accommodate his needs so he won’t have to do what he doesn’t want to.
Two common examples:
1) “We have to go and he is not getting ready.” He doesn’t want to go and shouldn’t have to unless it is an emergency. We can be king and do our errands, or take the other child to the park another time, when someone can stay home with this child.
2) “He must go to sleep.” Again, why control another person’s body? No one forces you to leave the company you are enjoying and go to sleep, even if you are very tired. I offer
other solutions to bedtime, that are respectful of the child and help him be in charge of his own body.
In this culture, we often see a child as disrespectful when he is simply assertive and does not comply with adult control. I cannot know your specific situations in which you consider your son “disrespectful. My guess is that with a small change in what you say or do, what you call “disrespect” will not happen.
When you start on this path it is easy to be confused and give the child mixed messages. It is possible that you are giving license instead of freedom on the one hand, while your child is still feeling controlled in other areas. If you wish to get hands on guidance, you can set up a phone session with me: http://naomialdort.com/guidance.html
In your question I also see another issue that gets in your way, and that is your need for approval from other people. Learn from your son; he feels free to take care of himself. Follow his model and take care of your child your own way, and enjoy loving him unconditionally and without needing anyone’s agreement. Without needing your relatives’ approval, home-schooling is simply what you choose to do. Read my answer called Responding to Criticism:
Warmly, Naomi Aldort, www.AuthenticParent.com