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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tantrums, Tears and Growth

Okay... So I am not sure if I am going to be able to articulate all of this the way I hope to, but I am going to give it a shot because if it can help any other parent or person in anyway, it'll be worth stumbling over to try and explain my latest revelation (which surely many have already had...).

(Thank you for the ADORABLE outfits Grammie!)

The last 2 weeks have been extremely difficult as a mom. Christian has been a complete wreck. We had our fair number of struggles with our stubborn little Elle, but we only briefly touched down on the tantrum phase- we rid her of that quickly and swiftly. She spoke like an adult from before she was even 1 year old. Christian however is a whole new ball game. He still only can say a hand full of words clearly. He can non-verbally communicate quite a bit, but it is still extremely frustrating for him a lot of the time when he has so much more to say or ask for that he can't get across accurately. This is what sets off screaming, flailing, kicking, back arching hysterics.... OFTEN.
All of this to say that since I have to be the one with him all day long, every day, this is extremely exhausting for me and I want to make every effort to help him and the rest of us from the insanity. To keep this post to the point, I just want to explain that I began trying everything to figure this out. We have made leaps and bounds in his attitude and self control in just a couple weeks of trying everything from no TV, no juice or other sugars, calm down exercises, etc...
Seeing him smile, watching him start to "lose it" and then be able to real in his emotions and get control of himself now is so over-joying. It makes me so happy for him that he doesn't have to feel so helpless in his frustrations now. I got to thinking about all of this and thought about how parents who go to work and leave their kids with someone else-whether daycare, school or grandma/grandpa- for part of the day get a "break" from being hung on, being at becon call every moment, hearing constant noise all day, let's get real- you don't ever even get to pee or shower by yourself. (I am not for a moment saying that being a working parent is easier, just different struggles. Please don't take this post the wrong way or be offended if you are a working parent. Please read it for what I am saying, not as an argument against anyone's choices of how to provide for their families.) My point is that if I were not so utterly exhausted and at my wits end, I may not put in the same efforts to "fix" my kids. Maybe I would be able to bare them being little brats if I only had to "deal with them" a few hours a day. Maybe I could bare them whining and fussing and begging for things I already told them they couldn't have. Maybe I could over look them back talking to me, or being rude to each other. Maybe I could be okay to prevent their bad attitudes a little longer by giving them toys and candies or taking them somewhere fun where I don't really have to interact with them. But I can't. I am faced with them ALL day long (and often all night long too)- so it is imperative to my own sanity that they not be allowed to ask me 3 times for something I already gave an answer to, that they listen and do what I asked them to the first time, that they not fuss and whine when I tell them no, that they enjoy playing with one another, that they enjoy helping me, and that the enjoy life in general!
On top of all that, I get to thinking about how much I learn as I try and teach them. It is truly humbling to always have a mirror in front of my face as I try and teach them about self control, being happy with what they have, no fussing and whining when things don't go the way you wanted/hoped... The lessons are so clear. The truth is so clear when I see the transformation of their little hearts and spirits when they choose to be happy doing what mama told them to do, or when they discover that they CAN stop fussing about something, or they CAN do that thing they thought was too hard and frustrating to do by themselves. The confidence that grows in their little character and the joy they experience better prepares them for the next thing that will be even tougher to handle with joy- but seeing them know they are equipped is worth every moment of the agony it took to be by their side helping them figure out what to do with their emotions and their frustrations. I think it would do A LOT of adults some real good to re-visit the "basics" of life... what better way than to teach it. It is hard to have the maturity of a 5 year old when you're trying to teach your 5 year old not to.
5-6 years ago I worked briefly at the same elementary school I went to as a child. This was known as the elementary school with the least behavior issues in the county. When I went there as a child there were a hand full of kids in the whole school (K-5) that were "problem kids". They were the constant trouble makers, the ones that were more than just talking in class, or being rude and disrespectful every once in a while- they were real troubled and obviously had rough home lives. When I worked there- just 10 or so years later- it was a complete different story. Each CLASS had a handful of kids like that. Even as young as 2nd grade, there were kids with an incredible ability to be defiant and seemingly proud of their capabilities to spread horrid things through the school- everything from sexual comments to 1st graders, to strangling kids who annoyed them, to cussing and making threatening remarks to the "un-cool" kids, to throwing fits when things didn't go their way, to lieing and cheating and more. It was shocking to say the least. And sad. Terribly sad. These kids were practicing what they were taught...or never taught... And how disabled they are for a future of joy...
I begin to wonder if a large part of what is happening with America right now, is due to both parents working and there being a lack of genuine fighting for the very best for children. I realize all situations are different, and I would never begin to think I could know what is best for anyone, let alone everyone. I am of course speaking in general terms and simply ask that you just THINK, think for a moment about the real heart of what I am saying. What is it costing for both parents to be working away from home? Are you missing your opportunity to really discover your kids and what they individually need to succeed in themselves? Are you missing the opportunity to grow and mature yourself into realizing what you really wish you were like. (I often see what is important to me by what I find so important to teach the kids.)
Ashamedly-I have spent many hours in tears, in agony and defeat over my kids not acting in a way that will enable them to experience true joy. It is my deepest desire for them to be happy and joyful loving people. THAT is a contribution to society. Joyful love. Having realized what all my tears and days of wanting to pull all my hair out really amount to... how deeply I care about the attitudes of my kids... I will not face them the same. I am so happy to be able to be with them and teach them how to take things head on and stronger than I ever did.  I am sure I will still shed tears and have moments of throwing my hands up in defeat, but hopefully fewer, and less and less dwelling each time... Because again... that is what I am trying to teach them right? Get over it! Life is hard, quit crying- figure out how to enjoy it just as it is.  THAT is freedom.


  1. I like it, Sara! And I agree. I just read in my Bible reading Jesus' words to Peter and took them personally. "Do you love me?" "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." "Tend My Lambs." When the 2 year-old tantrums are not confronted ...what will they look like at 16? And how can you invest the time that it takes if you are not at home with them. Besides, giving them the piece of candy that they are crying for is so much easier than taking the time to train them...only a mom/dad would love the kid enough to choose the hard path. "Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due time you will reap if you do not lose heart!" I definitely claim this verse in my child training. Keep fighting the good fight! :) Betsy

  2. I couldn't agree more Sara! John and I are working our butts off right now so that I can go to at least part time at my job (this would make it so one of the two of us would watch the kids at all times). Did you know that Sandra Day O'Conner (first female supreme court justice in the united states) took time off of her career to raise her family! Even with a powerful career like she had, she recognized the importance of family...and you know what, despite her few year hiatus from her career, she managed to make it to the very highest position a person can achieve AND she was the first woman to ever make it! Anyways I so fully agree that parents (and especially moms) need to be there especially for those foundational years. Once the kids are in school maybe people can find work during the hours the kids are away. -allison

  3. You just said what I've been feeling about our school system for years. It's not the teachers fault, it's the parents for not parenting. You can work, but you have to PARENT too. I think it is time to stand up and be responsible for our kids and their actions because their actions reflect us! I hope by the time my child reaches school more parents are involved and actually parenting so teachers can TEACH not discipline a child who should already be disciplined enough to know better. I'm trying not to judge other parents because parenting is hard, but lets also be responsible for making these little people in our lives the best they can be! - Megan