Monday, June 27, 2011

I'm a failure as a parent

Big dose of karma as I play witness to my kid's disrespectful, unruly, whiny, spolied, inappropriate and annoying behaviour. Yes, these are the little products of my parenting. I have lost the battle -- they no longer respect my authority, they are a complete embarrassment to my half-assed attempt at 'gentle discipline'. I'm ready to get them each DSes, sign them up for away camp, send them to day-long playdates, plug them into more TV -- anything to get them out of my hair -- anything to placate them into complying.

SIGH. I know the melodrama here is a bit much, but this is how I feel -- completely hopeless. A friend of mine tried to help me out today by offering what works for them -- consistency, clear consequences, immediate repercussions -- no guff. Show them you mean business or they'll walk all over you. So I did it today and it was a colossal failure. When my daughter started to give me lip, I sternly told her that her behaviour was disrespectful and asked her to stop immediately. Same as always, she continued to back-talk, so I sent her to bed without story time -- a 'fair' punishment. And as expected she cried and yelled and fussed and got even angrier. When she finally calmed down, I asked her if she knew why she had been sent to bed and of course she could not articulate her offense. I was just a bad mean mother. Great. Did she 'learn the lesson'? No, she did not. Will she do it again? Probably. Maybe the punishment was not stern enough. In fact she decided that she much preferred reading to herself in bed anyways and made sure to show me that my lame-ass attempt at corporal punishment would not break her. Ugh. I've got to dig deep and find my back bone here. My friend is right -- consequences must be immediate. I am inconsistent, I tolerate inappropriate behaviour to avoid the pain and then just snap and go ape-shit on them when I can't take it anymore. I am the crazy woman in the picture my 7 year old drew of me here.

How will this play out next time? Warnings and reason -- I should have explained that we speak to eachtother with respect and that if she continues to speak to me in that tone I will not want to carry on a conversation with her let alone read her a story. It's the same punishment, but made with a better link to the offensive behaviour. Maybe if reminded of the consequence, she would have chosen to stop? I didn't give her the opportunity. I should know how to do this. I tell my partner all the time -- I'll be ready to carry on this conversation when you are ready to speak to me respectfully. And it always works.

I need to make it clear that when they are suffering the consequences for their misbehaviour (and throwing a fit in the process), that THEY are the ones that chose their path and that they are the ones that can make a different choice to fix the problem. I can see this working. Have to just remember to apply it which is not so easy when I am seeing red ... which is another important tip -- keep it together.

I also need better adjectives to describe their misbehaviour. "I don't like your attitude" "Smarten up" "Stop being a brat" -- these are not working. When I try to label the behaviour, I invite them to defend themselves, which just prolongs the lip. My words need to be few, but effective.

Last bit of great advice -- it will pass. My parenting days are few compared to the number of days they will live without me. This is not that big a deal. I was just as annoying as a child, it's what kids do. K, I think I'm ready for the next round. I will not let my partner rescue me. I want to be the best parent I can be. I want the best outcome for all of us.


  1. another bit of good advice: accept information-seeking questions, but shut down defensive questions. Also, follow-up with a peaceful and loving encounter. This is key -- even if they appear to be okay, they may still be holding onto some resentment from the consequence so I need to gently remind them with a hug of the reason they were punished in the first place.

  2. We've all been there, I bet even your BF has been there. Hang in there.

  3. thanks for the support; all is peaceful for now -- I think the kids know when we are at our limit and then just back off a bit; I was so lucky for so long without them challenging our authority so much. Booze seems to make everything less severe :-)