Monday, January 25, 2010

parenting pains....! cry for help?..please!

I am rethinking my parenting style
now that I am a single,working mom!
I have received feedback from bloggers in the past,
that has caused me to do some thinking.
and now as I look at what is not working..
I need to find what will!

I was raised in a strict but loving home.
There was parental authority!
My siblings and I were polite and well behaved.'
I believe in authority in the home.
and the children's father,
while no longer in the home..
seems to still garner their 'fear of consequence'
when he reaches a place of feeling enough is enough!
I, however, sometimes feel like I am talking underwater..
and talking..and talking..and talking...!

When we were in the home together
I was the boundary setter!
But, I don't think I have ever really been the disciplinarian.
I am too inconsistent and soft!
But, I did enforce the boundaries and require respectful behavior..
and then there was always "Its time to talk to dad."
But, I tend to react and then realize that grounding them
until next Christmas might be extreme..
or I know that what is needed is missing out on an event;
but I don't have the heart!
Or, I see the heart behind what they did and understand and therefore
struggle with a consequence as I know they were hurting too..!
In many ways,
their dad and I balanced each other,
he was laid back but they knew when he reached that point,
that he would say what he meant.
I was more tolerant of some things, he of others.
But, together not as much slipped through the cracks.

so, now what??
I know some believe in ultimate authority
and some believe that if you give your children their own choices,
they will ultimately make the right decisions!

I wonder if as a mom..
who is smaller in frame then my son and soon my daughter..
inconsistent... really more reactionary then angry...more soft then strong..
and the only adult presence in the home...
if maybe,
ultimate authority is not the way this whole thing should go..
right now!

Yes, I believe I should be the final say!
and yes, I believe I should define boundaries and enforce consequences..
but what about the way we live?
if they are fighting.
do I punish or let them figure it out?
if their rooms are not clean...
do I punish or leave it, letting them live with the result?
how much leeway do you give them?
what does 'lenient' parenting look like?
how does one learn a 'self governing' style of parenting?
where does one begin?

I take parenting seriously, I do!
BUT, its a lot when you are alone to do it..
when they are with their dad, he is on his own with this as well!
this is what our life now is..

I have many friends with children,
but few who truly are where I am.
As most of my friends are remnants
from a life I once led..
I can admire what they do..
but I can know that our lives are too different
for it to work for me..
right now!

I need to pick my battles!
I need some guidance however...
I feel I spend so much time
dealing with the fighting, the cleaning of the rooms, the chores...
and I wonder how else could I do this?
what are my options?
because this is just not working out so well!

I have good kids..
they are top students, well behaved in school, kind to their friends..
and sometimes nice to each other!:)
They are 'reasonably' responsible, caring for their pets
and helping around the house!
I am often complimented on their behavior....
BUT, sometimes they do not listen!
sometimes they fight.
sometimes they do not clean their rooms,
or pick up after themselves,
sometimes they chase each other in public,
sometimes they use really ugly tones with each other...
and while this may not seem THAT bad..
knowing how to deal with it,
when they are not seeing me as the ULTIMATE end all be all
has me stumped!!

is it time to let them have the reigns a little?
and what does that look like?
I have 3 kids..12,10 and 8.
I have always given my all as a mom!
but my dynamics have changed!
What worked when I was a stay at home mom,
with home schooled children,
and my whole focus could be on them..
does not work now!
Now they spend 8 hours a day in school,
and learn things that require 'un'learning.
I work 40 hours a week,
and come home tired.
They spend every other weekend and a night a week with their dad,
this is his time to be with them
not my time to pour into them...
so time is limited!
Dynamics have changed!!
My dad has a saying he uses;
when the paradigm shifts everything returns to zero!

Well, my paradigm has shifted in a really big way,
I am at zero..
eager to hear and learn..
and knowing that being willing to change
and accept that things could be done better,
is what sets us apart as human beings!
I owe my children the reflection
and I thank you for your thoughts!


  1. So in other words, you have good kids who sometimes act just like kids? Yeah, me, too. I think you have to maintain authority and have consequences and yet, they need to be pulled into a role where they collaborate with running the household. Because it is harder to parent on your own - there's just no getting around it. I remember sitting down with my older son and asking him what we needed to do to get along better and also asking for his help by being a good role model for his brother. It hasn't been perfect since then, but it has sure been better. I think kids will often rise to your expectations as long as you are clear that you treasure them and trust them to grow into responsible young adults.

  2. yes, Secret agent woman..good kids who act like kids!!:) but its how I act that has me role! Thanks for what you shared!!! enjoyed the commentary on your blog today also!:)

  3. 3 words for you: "Love and Logic" it is a parenting book series. It helped me out a lot when I was a single Mom. It gives you great parenting techniques for all ages. It helps you dicipline them in a way to where the kids don't get mad at you, they get mad at the behavior. I use it in the classroom as well (I work w/ elementary school kids). You can go to their website for more info.

    However, from the looks of your blog page and pictures, your kids seem to have a very caring, well-intentioned Mom. MAybe they are just going through a rough spot right now. Everything will work itself out hang in there

  4. If you ever find the right answer to your questions, you would have a best selling book on your hands! What I'm saying is what is right for me and my family may not be right for yours. I've let my sons have some freedoms as they were growing. I didn't get too worried about messy rooms and I did have a limit to how messy it got before I 'laid down the law' and they knew it. In the end, I'll leave you a word of wisdom that another teacher shared with a parent on fighting battles:
    Choose your battles wisely. Look and see what at the end of the day did fighting that battle accomplish and was it worth it getting there. Let them learn about consequences of their actions. Many times that is the better teacher than the parent fighting the battles.

  5. michelle- I checked out the website! it looks great! Thank you!!

    Mamma has spoken- thank you for your words!! I think my struggle is finding myself in this new world and I am not sure which battles are worth picking! I appreciate all the insight!

  6. Debbie, I think we touched on this last year. I used to get the kids involved in a rota for regular chores, swiffer the floor, empty/refill the dishwasher etc. I'd allow them to police their own behaviour and if they were out of line we'd discuss it instead of me telling them off, Very often they would be in agreement that their behaviour was inappropriate and through discussing it they'd see how their actions would have an effect on others instead of just being grounded and disliking my authority.
    The good thing is you have 3 children of similar age. You can literally run a "Knights of the round table" scenario basically giving them all an equal role of responsibility in the house and sharing not only the chores but some of the decisions that are made. Treat them as mature people and not children and they will respond. Trust me. :)

  7. Steve- I want to hear more!! Do you use consequences? or just point out the affect?? I talk with my kids a lot..but what happens when the talking does not work?? thank you for your insight and thank you being a friend!! I need that!:)

  8. you sound as though you have a great balance. Kids dont always act out because they are bad. The older the kids get, the more they begin to find their own individuality.
    And that is a good thing. No matter how closely you raise your kids, they will grow up as separate people.
    There will be good days and bad days and it all comes out ok in the end. There were days I thought my kids would drive me to the nut house. But they have grown to young adults and I could not be more proud.
    Go easy on yourself

  9. I think too many new generation parents have gotten away from being strict to being the cool parent. The old ways taught us a lot to growing up..

  10. Debbie - We all sort of "made it up" as we went along. I was lucky in so far as when I was married my wife worked most weekends so I was home with the kids so we already had a great bond.
    I remember just being brutally honest with them one day at dinner. I told them that all these changes were as unusual for me as they were for them and that we could perhaps all help each other to adapt. I let them know that I wasn't born as a parent nor had I been to school to learn how to parent.I explained that I may have a slightly better idea of what is right and wrong, fair and unfair and a keen desire as their Father to make sure they grow into balanced human beings.

    I think all I did was manage to get them to participate, to consider how they felt when others did things and how their own actions, gestures etc would affect others. I hope I did a good job.

    My youngest Daughter Jess (who was just 6 when I divorced) is now living with me. Her mum sadly has on and off issues with alcohol and Jess has decided to give her space.

    She is an absolute diamond. She deals with laundry, empties the dishwasher, makes drinks, even irons! all without being asked or even letting me know that she's done it! She has a fantastic sense of humour, she's just passed her Financial Services exams and is working for a large Insurance company. She makes me so proud. What is even more cute is that after being at work all day, she comes home, has a shower, helps with tea etc and then she goes on the Nintendo Wii online playing Mario Kart! for an hour! how cute. She is still a child at heart.

  11. not a soccer mom: thanks for the encouragement! Maybe I worry a wee bit!:)

    Paul: I agree whole heartedly! BUT need balance! I think, based on who I am , that there will always be a level reasonably 'strict' maintained in our home..there is so much that is not acceptable!! I am just trying to learn what is...:)

  12. Steve- thank you! When it comes down to it, I guess I need to learn to trust my instincts in the new place I am..rather then comparing it so much to the way I used to be, or maybe the way our circumstances were!!

  13. Hi I'm new here, but the rules go out the window when you become a single mom, a single working mom is an even tougher job.

    For a long time I felt different to my married friends and put a lot of pressure on myself to take on the father role as well as all the other duties. Society attaches a certain stigma to single mums, when our kids play up people can lay the blames "Oh she's a single mum, the kids have no father figure"
    When our kids are bad for one minute it because we can't cope. Not true. It sounds like you have great kids and that is because of they way you have brought them up.
    Don't let the doubts of being a single mum effect your parenting style and defiantly don't change it because you are worried what others think of your style. It sounds to me that you are a loving and very understanding mum. I say keep it up. do it your way, there is no right or wrong.

  14. Great post and great comments. I just wanted to say, while I can't relate to the working, single mom situation, I can COMPLETELY relate to the not knowing when to expect more and when to expect less from my kids. It is a constant battle!

  15. Hi, just found you via A Lady of No Importance. I found your post very honest and open - i like that in a blog!

    You sound like you are doing pretty well. I am still married but my children issues (also have 3) are similar to your. They obviously are doing very well but if you are tired the usual nagging we all do about the domestic stuff must be a real drag. Don't see it as a reflection of your parenting skills though, just a practical problem that needs practical solutions. And when you work out how to get them to do this stuff without a fight - please let me know! - but a friend of mine swears by routine.

  16. I think your kids sound pretty terrific :). But I know what you mean... mine is pretty terrific but acts, at times, like a rotten child. Rotten child ;). I think you're right that balance is key and sometimes finding that balance is trial and error. I'm betting you do this already, but I'd sit them down and have a family chat. Let them know your concerns... what's good and working well and what's not. Ask them for their input on how to make the family 'work' better for everyone. But let them know that while their input is valuable, you, as the mother, have the final say. You will figure it out, love, mainly because you want to and you're trying. xo

  17. Liss and Reasons- I am glad you stopped by!

    Liss- you are right all the rules change, but I am trying to take your advice and stop second guessing!!

    Reasons- if I find the solution I will let you know! and I sure your friend is right!:)

    Julie- I LOVE when you stop by! I keep up with you guys..and miss you!Thanks for sharing that you relate..that its not just me!!*sigh*!!

    Diane- Rotten sounds about right!!:) I do sit with the kids, but I wonder if I don't wait to long! I tend to do it when theres a crisis and then I am doing damage control! Maybe I need to be more consistant! maybe I will ask them what they think!!:)

  18. I too read Love and Logic and have re-read it a few times latley. Although I don't agree with everything, most of it seems to be a good way to try.
    It says to let your kids learn lessons and work things out for themselves.
    Heck, who knows. Every one is so different.
    Good luck

  19. I will also give a plug for love and logic. I haven't read it myself but it comes highly recommended. You mentioned consequences but what about rewards. In my work I hear from alot of parents who give their children everything(cell phone, computer, car, TV etc) without asking them to earn some of it by being a participant in the work of family life. As adults we have to work for the privileges we have so it seems a good lesson to teach. My mom was a single working mom since I was 8(now 42!)and I know it was very hard for her and us. there were lots of layers to what made it hard. But at the end of the day we knew she loved us and we turned out all right! Better than alright!(and I never picked up my room!)

  20. Danielle and realmom- I did order love and logic!! and I agree that earning their privileges in a good thing!

    and realmom I feel much better about the room thing! THANK you!:)