What is it that changed my life? Let me tell you…. when I took myself out of my parenting, then my life as a parent was changed forever!
What do I mean when I say ‘took myself out of my parenting?’
Read on and you’ll soon find out.
We were recently talking in Sunday school about how we react to stimuli based on what we think and what we believe. The discussion came around to how we might react angrily if we take someone else’s behavior personally.
It brought something to my mind that seemed to fit this same scenario. It’s what changed my life as a parent.
When our first son was young, I was often frustrated by him. I took his poor behavior personally. I mean, couldn’t he see that I was giving him every opportunity to obey; that I was actually a nice parent?
When he didn’t take any of those opportunities, I became angry or frustrated.
It was a little bit down the parenting road when, through a couple of different circumstances, I learned something that changed my life!
It changed my relationship with my son, it changed the atmosphere in our home, and it permanently changed how I parent.
If what I learned might help another mom out there too, it is worth sharing.
I learned to not take my son’s disobedience personally. I had to take my feelings out of my parenting and begin to look at my son’s behavior objectively.
I learned to look at it like, “Oh well, you messed up. I guess there’ll be consequences for that.”
Up to that point, his mis-behavior was the stimulus that I reacted to based on the belief that he didn’t like me when he disobeyed. I tried to please him by trying to show him I was nice and to give him every opportunity to obey.
My thinking had to change. My thinking was more about me than it was for my child.
It’s kind of like when a police officer pulls someone over for speeding. He doesn’t scream and get all offended by speeding 12 miles over the speed limit. He pulls the speeder over, calmly writes a ticket and tells them what they need to do.
The speeder experiences the consequences without drama, and hopefully changes their behavior. That’s what consequences are for right? To bring about change?
What exactly did this mean or look like in my parenting, and why do I say it changed my life?
When my son didn’t obey me, I learned to began to look at that disobedience differently, instead of a personal affront to me or disliking me.
I began to see his disobedience as behavior that we needed to work on. Let me give an example of what was typical early on:
What Used to Happen
Me: “Little One, mommy needs you to pick that toy up off the floor. We’re going to go bye-bye.” (Starting out with a pleasant voice and smile on my face)
Little One: Sitting on floor playing with said toy, no response.
Me: LITTLE One, did you hear me? Please pick the toy off the floor!” (a little less pleasant, smile barely noticeable, eyebrows up.)
Little One: rolls onto back, kicks feet, cries and fusses.
Me: “I SAID pick up that toy off of the floor!! I’ll give you until the count of 3! (no smile, voice not pleasant and volume up…you know, just in case he has an ear infection and can’t hear me, eyebrows furrowed, hands on hips)
Little One: continues to fuss and throw fit.
Me: ONE, TWO!!
Little One: He waits until the last possible moment to grab the toy and throw it near the toy box.
Me: “PICK UP THE TOY AND PUT IT INTO THE TOY BOX!!! ” (this is now a battle of wills)
Little One: Fusses and refuses.
Me: No longer want to go bye-bye, or to be around my son. (The feeling is mutual I’m sure!)
Wow, I’m pooped just reliving it! I completely took his disobedience personally, became emotional, frustrated, and grumpy. It was exhausting. I had to learn to take myself out of the equation. It wasn’t about me, but about my son and what he needed.
Read part 2 that shows what I began to do differently that changed my life.