I need help/advice/perspective....(sorry, long) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 06-20-2002, 01:05 AM - Thread Starter
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I have 3 dd's, 10.5yrs, 9 yrs and 4 mos. (Yes, #3 was a lovely surprise, but that's a whole other thread!) My problem is that their behavior has been really difficult lately, and I'm not sure I can get through the summer with them at home.

A little background: My dh and I started a restaurant 2 years ago. The first year was quite a blur, but we seemed to come through it ok. That year, dd#1 had to switch schools due to some nasty social issues and an incompetent teacher (and has really bossomed at a wonderful, warm, safe, humanistic charter school). Last fall, dd#2 followed her to the new school. She didn't have the same social issues yet, but I wanted to avoid the environment that caused the problems for dd#1. And this Feb., dd#3 was born.

So, we've had quite a bit of stress over the last couple years, but for dh and I, it's been sooo worth it. Being your own boss is the best, and it really has made dh very happy.

Dd#1 has been struggling with a lot of anxiety and fears, stuff that comes seemingly out of the blue. For example, last night at bedtime, I was explaining to dd#2 why we keep the porch light on all night - that it discourages anyone who might think about breaking into our house - and this evening, she's sobbing on the couch with stomach cramps insisting that we need to get a security system installed because she's afraid of burgulars....and this is just today's example. She's never shown any concern about burgulars/break-ins in the past. Anxieties about other subjects pop up also....She was always so confident as a younger child, up until the school problems; to see her anxious and fearful breaks my heart.

I suspect some of it is hormonal, and I try to just comfort her through it, but it's difficult to give that method the time it requires when you've got the needs of a 4 month old and a misbehaving 9yr old to deal with, especially when the anxieties seem to bubble up around bedtime (of course!)

Dd#2's behavior has been just about as obnoxious as it can be. She's always been kind of prone to tantrums about clothes/hair, and i thought I had gotten pretty good at not getting emotionally involved, letting her express her frustration without me getting embroiled in it. But now, the obnoxiousness is constant. Rude language and tone of voice, name calling, screaming, throwing things and kicking walls...Last night, she called from a friends house to ask if the friend could come for a sleepover, and I found muself saying yes against my better judgement just so I wouldn't have to deal with a tantrum. Not good.

I guess having them both in a rather negative phase at the same time as having a new baby has just gotten to be too much for me to handle, and it's gotten out of hand. I haven't handled each situation with my ideal of AP/natural consequences/positive discipline lately, and it shows.

However, tonight, dd#2 pitched a fit, screaming at the rest of us because she was mad at the rules of an online contest. I spent a couple minutes trying to explain that if she felt the rules were wrong she should write a letter telling the company that, and that it wasn't right to take it out on her family, blah blah blah. When she kept it up , I told her calmly that she'd have to take the behavior upstairs for the night and sent her off to her room. It took a little physical encouragement, but she went up, and stayed there til bed. I did feel better because I handled it without getting angry, and I stuck to our house rule that if you can't treat others nicely, you need to be separated.

Sorry this got so long, a little venting,I guess. I'm just looking for any thoughts or help or fresh ideas and perspectives any of you might have. Thank you for any and all!
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#2 of 4 Old 06-20-2002, 02:29 AM
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Hello rda!
I am not a mom of older children yet! But I do have experience being similar age with an AP parent. My mom found other healthy,safe adults to spend time with me and my sister. If either of us began a tantrum or started having an anxiety attack, my mom had people to call and come over to spend quality time with us. My mom's DD #3 is seven years younger than I, and as you know, her time was needed for baby.

I have always been grateful that my mom found other people to spend quality time with me when she was unable to do so. I have five wonderful older women who have made a committment to be a part of my life and support me when I am going thru rough times. And as I have gotten older I believe I have helped them in as many ways as I could.

I asked my mom how she found these women and she said that she just started calling all the help lines and neighbors and basically harassed them for help. (She was a single mom with three kids).

Maybe you have sisters or cousins that would be willing to spend time with your girls? I had one older woman (in her sixties) who picked me up every sunday afternoon and taught me how to cook something I picked out of a cookbook she had. I had an Auntie whom my sister and I could call that would take us to the park or swimming. If mom was upset we could go down the block to the neighbors for a couple hours (she did hair, nails, and girl stuff my mom had no clue about). A younger woman would take us to the zoo, state fair, or places that my mom could not stand to go due to her post traumatic stress syndrome stuff. We have another 'auntie' that answered questions about sexuality, drugs, and other things my mom wasn't comfortable discussing (of course we always asked her permission first and let her know what had been discussed and our feelings about it).

I hope my sharing has helped you. Good luck
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#3 of 4 Old 06-22-2002, 12:56 AM
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hi! i hesitate to reply because my own kids are still small and you have so much to deal with right now, but i teach teenagers, and what i wonder is if the girls need some reflective listening? not trying to help them solve the problem, but just letting them know you hear them. teens often don't seem to need a solution to a particular problem, since everything is so immediate (and hormonal) for them. they seem to mostly need to feel empowered and listened to. and i bet it's almost impossible to listen like you used to, which is an okay thing for them to adjust to, but will take some time. it sounds like you're juggling an awful lot and doing it very well, and your girls are lucky to have you. take care, and good luck! meredith
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#4 of 4 Old 06-23-2002, 12:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for your replies.

I do usually try the empathy/reflective listening when I can, but I guess it's different now that they're older. Maybe I should hone my skills a bit. When they were little, it was so easy, it usually only took a few minutes of active listening and support to get them through whatever crisis came up. Now, with the baby needing me, I often want to resolve things as quickly as possible for them, but obviously, that isn't going to work now. Now, when I try to empathasize, it seems to take them deeper into the issue, which often scares me a bit and I get too emotional. As I write this I realize that they must need to go deeper into the issues to resolve them, and I get to be there for them. Yikes! It is really tough to see them going through such turmoil.

As an update, dd#2 (9yrs) has had a couple of pretty good days. We had a heart to heart and she let out some feelings that had been apparently bottled up, and she seems better. I also finally got her room cleaned up from being painted, got her new mattress and got it set up so she doesn't have to share a bed with dd#1 anymore. They were getting pretty tired of that and it was causing conflict.

MamaInTheBoonies- Thanks for your suggestion! The girls do have several significant women in their lives that help alot. My sil is a single woman who spends a huge amount of time with them and is willing to help them explore themselves, apart from me. They also have individual relationships with each of their grandparents, who are wonderful and most of them live quite nearby. I think I will be on the lookout for some other women who might connect with each of them in a particular way, though. Dd#2 is quite an artist, and it might be fun for her to have someone to practice that with.....hmmmm

Thanks fro the encouragement!
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