Starting fresh, need to talk to the kids. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 01-03-2008, 09:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't really "do" New Year's resolutions. I resolved a few years ago to not make any more. It's the only one I've ever kept. But, a new year always gets me thinking and assessing my life and where I'm at. I've been working really hard the last few months at becoming a more gentle parent. I've never spanked, but I've yelled. A lot. And I think I feel as bad about that as if I'd spanked.

Things have been getting better. Not always great, but there's progress.

You know how they say you know your kids are listening when they mimic you? Yeah, they're yelling. I know I have no one buy myself to blame. And it sounds so terrible to hear what the tone they speak to each other when they are frustrated about something. I feel bad to hear how I sounded to them.

I feel like I need to have a conversation with them. In a time where things are good. They've started covering their ears when they don't want to hear what anyone has to say (I *didn't* do that! ) so I think a happy time would be when to do it. I guess I just want to apologize to them for all the times I yelled at them and jumped to conclusions before asking them about what they were doing. And tell them that I really want to be a gentle mama for them because that's what they deserve. And to explain to them that yelling and speaking rudely doesn't make a peaceful home and I'd like for all of us to work on it together.

Has anyone done this before? I have a good friend telling me that it's a terrible idea and that I should just start doing better. She thinks I'm making myself vulnerable and showing them that they can "get to me", whatever that means. And she said I'd be unloading my burdens on them to make myself feel better.

I think that if it is from the heart, it would be good because I'm showing them that when you know you've screwed up, you can't change the past but you can sincerely apologize and then do better. And it shows them that even mom isn't perfect and doesn't always know best.

I'd really like to talk to them, but I don't want to do it if it's going to be a burden on them. What do you guys think?
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#2 of 12 Old 01-03-2008, 09:38 PM
 
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I think you're idea is a wonderful idea.

I've done exactly what you plan to do. I think this works for our family, and not only works but has been very positive and healing. I just asked my 8 year old dd if doing what you described feels okay to her. She said it feels fine, that it helps. I asked her if you should do the same with your kids, if she thought it would hellp your family but more importantly your kids. And she said, with a huge smile, yes!

I think it's absolutely possible to be vulnerable and honest with children without burdening and blaming them. It shows them we're human, it shows them we care, it shows them our feelings. Done gently, honestly and without blame, it puts everyone's needs right out there on the table.

Wish I could say more, but I have to run.

Good for you.
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#3 of 12 Old 01-03-2008, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sledg View Post
I just asked my 8 year old dd if doing what you described feels okay to her. She said it feels fine, that it helps. I asked her if you should do the same with your kids, if she thought it would hellp your family but more importantly your kids. And she said, with a huge smile, yes!
Awww. Thank you.
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#4 of 12 Old 01-03-2008, 10:02 PM
 
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ITA - 6 and 4 y.o.'s can certainly hear the message you want to deliver. I've had this conversation plenty with my 4 y.o. DD. I don't feel it's fair to expect her to recognize or apologize for her behavior if I don't model the same. I also am truly remorseful for the way I speak to her sometimes. We have a tough relationship and I don't always take the high-road, but I'm trying! I tell her when I'm sorry for yelling and usually why I did it (I was feeling really frustrated at that time... I'm really tired today and I'm not being as patient as I should..., etc.) I let her know that I'm working really hard to be a good Mommy to her, that it's not always easy, but it's the most important thing in the world to me. I truly believe she 'gets' it and her understanding and forgiveness give me renewed strength and sets me straight again.
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#5 of 12 Old 01-03-2008, 10:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just talked to them. They were really receptive. We also created a "super special be kind codeword" to remind each other to be kind. We'll see how that works. They are all excited about it and running around screaming it. Our word is...zamboni.
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#6 of 12 Old 01-03-2008, 10:22 PM
 
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I think it is a great idea to have a code word. We have had those talks around here often. typically midway through me apologizing and talking about changing things someone starts fighting and I yell that I am trying to apologize for yelling will they just shut up so I can. yup pretty sad I like that idea of a code word though I will have to try that out

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#7 of 12 Old 01-03-2008, 11:12 PM
 
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Oh, I've been there. My 2nd was born when my 1st was 27 months old. I quickly became sleep deprived, exhausted, and depressed. My patience level dropped to zero and I yelled a lot. It was a really miserable time for me, for about 6 months. We solved the sleep issues somewhat and I took some supplements and the depression cleared, and I sat down with my 1st, and told her I was sorry for being mean a lot and it was just that I was very tired and it wasn't her fault and I was going to do better. And I did. She looked at me very seriously and gave me a big hug. It was a good thing to do.

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#8 of 12 Old 01-03-2008, 11:52 PM
 
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really super cool code word..my kids LOVE zambonis!

I think you have made a wonderful step in the right direction.

good luck
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#9 of 12 Old 01-04-2008, 12:09 AM
 
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That sounds great. I think too by talking to them about what you want to change it helps make you more accountable coz you're more aware you're letting them down. When I really turned around my yelling I asked for ds's help in defusing the situation. I asked him to feel ok about pulling me up if I yelled and tell me to go an have a "grumpy tea" (it was a herbal tea for relaxation - not it's real name lol) and he thought that was quite funny - so that was our code word and it also bought in humour which broke the mindset I was in. We've gone way past that now and in fact can't remember the last time I did - months and months.

All the best.

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#10 of 12 Old 01-04-2008, 12:29 AM
 
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We tend to have this conversation on a day-by-day kind of basis with dd, who is 3 1/2. For example--last week we had a "situation" revolving around getting into the bathtub, then about splashing her brother in the bathtub, then about getting out of the bathtub and into pajamas. It was not a good day for the tub and we all got irritated. Actually, dd turned into a shrieking banshee, and dh and I turned into teeth-gritting, forehead scrunching, toddler wrestling, horrible human beings.

After dd went to bed (surprisingly easily; she'd not big on holding a grudge, thank goodness!), dh and I had a conversation about what we should have done, and in the morning and afternoon we each had conversations with dd in happy cuddly moments that went something like "last night we fought a lot, huh? That wasn't really a good night, was it? Mommy and Daddy shouldn't have gotten so mad and should have been more patient with you. What do you think we can do tonight so we don't fight about the tub?" We finished it up with our most common reminder that we use whenever we're making a difficult transition: "no fussing, no fighting, right?" Often just having dd listen to that and repeat it back to us improves her mood, like there would be some way for us to enforce her "no fussing, no fighting" pledge.

Talking, in my opinion and our personal experience, is always better than not talking.
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#11 of 12 Old 01-04-2008, 10:19 AM
 
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I think it's a fabulous idea!

It's important for kids to see that Mum and Dan are gasp! human beings with faults of their own! What better way to get your kids to have empathy and understanding than to model it yourself. If you want your kids to be introspective and understand how their actions affect others, you need to do the same.

Like all parents, I lose it on occasion too but I always talk about it and tell my daughter how I am/was feeling and she does the same for me.
I think a lot of this came from growing up with a completely emotionally detached mother who had and still has a problem with expressing any emotions. I really really did not want that for my child.

I don't think it's burdening them at all, it's not like you are blaming them for anything. It doesn't matter what age you are, it can only be beneficial to discuss feelings and deal with them.
What a gift to give your kids as well.
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#12 of 12 Old 01-04-2008, 04:35 PM
 
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I think you should follow your heart and talk to your children about it. That said, I think you should keep your message short and simple, and you should follow it up on your own by thinking about what you are going to do differently and what techniques you are going to use to achieve your goal.

Because the behavior change is more important than talking about it, and it's going to be important that your kids see you follow through. Not that you can't slip up, but you need to be invested in your success. I'd also make sure that this is really about changing you and your behavior vs. it being about you changing their behavior because you don't like their picking up on it.

I'd see about a book or something or some steps that you can refer to regularly when you feel frustrated so you can keep that goal top-of-mind. Maybe there's a little saying you can stick to your bathroom mirror or something.

My only concern is that if you make a promise but then don't follow through on it, that would lead to a lack of trust, as the kids realize that you aren't committed to your intentions.

Best wishes!
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