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I spent some time at home with my family recently. My sister has a 3.5 year old son. There are a lot of issues there that would take a lot of time and energy to get into and probably aren't germane, but I can summarize by saying this little boy has had very, very little stability in his short life.

My family are spankers, and yellers, and threateners. They are just doing what they've always known. The way I deal with my son is totally foreign to them, but they don't do anything to undermine it (mostly). My nephew is harrangued, and spanked, and threatened, and screamed at, on a daily basis. I can't remember the last time I've spent a day with he and his mom that he wasn't spanked. They are not trying to be awful people. It is just what they know.

My nephew is a difficult child. His behavior is very difficult for me to deal with -- even though I know it is a direct result of how is treated. He never asks for anything in a nice voice; he's always yelling to get attention. He was absolutely horrible to my son, mean and threatening and bossy and physical unless I was right there to prevent it -- but he obviously liked Nate very much and wanted to play with him. He is oppositional, will do things you are in the middle of asking him not to do, and throws tantrums at the slightest provocation. It is utterly exhausting to be in a room with him and the rest of my family.

And I'm so ashamed to admit how hard it was for me not to treat him like everyone else does.
: Not to yell at him, and threaten, and ask stupid questions like "What did I just say to you?" Not to swat him on the butt when he popped my child's hand for reaching for something "forbidden." I'm ashamed to admit that there were times that I treated him with so much less dignity than I am so careful to treat my son with. How few times I got down and talked to him on his level like I am so good about doing with my son.

I am ashamed with how many times I thought "but he's such a brat" even though I know he's not. I know that he is simply acting the way he has been taught to act, and if I act that way too, I'm only making things worse.

Just before the visit my youngest sister had complimented me on my parenting. "I have never known a better parent than you. I look at Kelly, and then I look at you, and I know how to be. I don't understand why everyone can't see it. I've never seen you yell at him. I've never seen you hit him. I've never seen you hurt him." And I was so thrilled with that validation, that feeling.

And then I went for a visit home and thought horrible thoughts about a tiny, helpless little boy who's just trying to make his way in his world.


I'm scared that the only reason I can treat Nate the way I do, the way I have so far, is because he is easy -- and it's easy to do when the child is easy. Will I still be able to do this when he's three? Will I still be able to do this if my next child is not so easy?

I am ashamed and I'm scared. Does anyone else out there have a hard time being gentle with children that aren't their own?
 

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What makes it hard is that when they grow so accustomed to that type of treatment, that's all they respond to.
to you for having to deal with this...hopefully your gentleness will show your nephew that there are other ways to be.
 

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I can totally relate. I hate to admit that I sometimes want to be mean to other people's kids. I never felt this until I had my own. I've noticed it is especially easy and tempting when their parents are mean to them. Its sad, cause they're the ones that need a little gentleness in their lives the most. I haven't found a good fix. I just have to watch myself and try to treat them like I treat mine even if I don't feel like treating them that way.
 

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i had a bad example of this when i baby sat 5 kids of a friend of a friend's of mine...the 3 year old was such abrat i have never wanted to hurt a child until him...and i have been a public school teacher in the project ghettos of chicago! i ahve never been so disrespected and so unable to win a child's heart before
and it drove me nuts
and his parents were big spankers, formula feeders, neglectful, buy your love, daycare loving, rich rich rich a$$ holes.
and after all of my usual stratogies did not work, i tried theirs (yelling, grabbing him by the arm, threatening him etc)

it was so bad

i still get disturbed about it
i have no answers, just letting you know, you are not the only one.
 

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Kids who are treated this way develop behaviors that cause people to want to treat them badly. When a small child is treated badly, they spend a certain amount of time wondering why people are mean to them. Then, they decide that the only way that they can have control is to evoke mean behavior before it is foisted upon them without warning. The process is subconcious, but powerful. It is their way of protecting themselves.

If you can fight the urge to treat him the way he is trying to get you to treat him, you will be doing him a huge favor. For him to know that there are people who will always love him and be kind to him no matter what will make a world of difference to him. You may not reap any of the benefits, ever, but for him to know that there are nice people out there may help him hold it together until (if) he can get out of that situation. Teachers who care about him once he is school-aged might make a big difference as well.

This is a very sad little boy who is being abused. I would be as involved as possible. I know it is hard.

L.
 

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I feel sad reading this. I'm the mean parent. My boy told me that tonight before he went to bed. I'm so confused in my displinary. My son is tough. He is strong willed. I am strong willed. It seems like I've tried everything, and yet I've tried nothing, because I can't be consistent. I'm sad. I need to change. I am the one with the problem, not him. I tell myself that I made him like he is today. I made him mean to me. I yell, I spank, and use mean words sometimes. I am so ashamed. I don't know how it all came to be. It was so easy at the beginning. Seems like until he turned 3. I feel I didn't do what was necessary for myself then. I hear my family in my head constantly. We yelled all of the time to communicate. I hear my mother's voice come out of my mouth constantly. I cringed. But it doesn't stop. I need to stop this habit. Books I read, I just can't incorporate. I told my out-of-town husband tonight that I need consouling (i can't spell that word for nothing tonight). He laughed, "when do you have time for that?" yeah right, when do I have time for that. I have three young children who need a nice mom! I never wanted to have a family like I grew up in. i hear my brother in my voice. It says it's ok with what I'm doing. But then I see his kids. I don't want it.

sorry, I'm unloading. This post just made me feel sad. I feel sad. I don't know who I am. I'm not the mother that I had planned to be.
thanks for listening.
Liz
 

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Liz,

I'm so sorry that you are feeling so sad. I cried when I read your post because I can relate to what you're saying. I struggle everyday with not being like my mom and dad and not treating my son the way I was treated as a kid. I have huge expectations for myself as a Momma and hold all of my mistakes over my head so as not to be forgotten. It is self-deafeating & not manageable & yet I keep doing it.

For me, my biggest deal is that I get lazy and don't want to, or feel like I don't have the energy, to get off my butt and be pro-active with my son. My parents were hands off kind of parents except when it came to dolling out punishment or yelling. Explanations, comraderie, playing with us was never something that they did. So now I find that those are the hard parts for me as a parent. I have to work very hard at these things and usually there's a time in every day that I feel over-whelmed & at a loss for what to do with my son or for myself. How do others find the energy to keep happily moving along, staying plugged-in? Maybe I need vitamens?

Sorry, I didn't mean to hijack your post. I guess I just wanted/needed to conect with someone who felt the way I do. I hope that others will have some words of wisdom/support for you.

You're not alone


Leatherette: Thank you for your insight!!!!!

Heidi
 
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