Thursday, January 31, 2008
I see so many people making themselves sick over problems that 1. aren't their own and 2. can't be changed.
What's done is done and can't be changed.
I used to be one of them. But I've been parenting for more than 38 years. Parenting special needs children, MR kids, autistic kids, profoundly MR kids, severely self abusive kids, kids with horrid behaviors and kids with reactive attachment disorder (RAD.)
A few years ago I decided that I didn't want to live like that. It dawned on me when someone broke something ( and I'm so good at this now that I don't remember what it was!) and I realized that it was irreversibly broken, and that my screaming and getting upset over it wasn't going to change things. It just clicked in my mind that I had a choice of how I was going to react over it.
I chose not to get crazy. It was what it was. And it was easier to just accept it and move on. I wish I had this knowledge 30 years ago. I would have 1. been a better parent and 2. lived a life in relative emotional peace.
Today when a kid goes on a raging rampage, I don't take it personally. It's NOT a failure on our part to teach him otherwise. He owns the behavior, not me. There are natural consequences attached to the act, of course, but not punishment. If a kid destroys the door to his bedroom, then, hey, other kids can get into his room and mess with his stuff. I don't say "AND you lose your right to XXX for three days." That's punishment. I don't get angry like I used to. I live in emotional peace 99% of the time.
If an adult child does something dumb like stealing money from a cash drawer at work and getting arrested, ain't that too bad for him/her. And that's what I'd say today. I'd laugh and say, Hey, you got yourself into a fine pickle now, didn't you? And I'd laugh again.
I think a parent's anger validates a child's anger. I won't do that. A raging child WANTS me to get upset and angry at him/her. Expects it as part of his acting out plan. I don't play their game. I didn't want to play the game to begin with. You can go play that game all by your lonesome. I've got my own happy games to play.
If a child expects anger, give him laughter. Remember he owns the anger. It's HIS anger, not yours. If not laughter, then at least disown the anger. He wants you angry. Don't do it. Stay calm and disconnected from the child's problem.
It is what it is, and it isn't gonna change by my adding my anger to the fire. In fact, I think adding my anger to the mess might just make the child's anger (or despair) flame up even higher.
I live a much more peaceful life now. My kids are less likely to act out when they can't drag me into it. And I just accept wjat happened as history that can't be changed, and gratefully move on.