Thursday, April 05, 2007

Why I'm a good mom

CHBM's carnival topic this week is "What are your strengths and/or weaknesses as a mom?" We all know I'm the perfect mom, so there aren't any weaknesses. Right? RIGHT!

I know my parenting methods aren't unique. But they are indicitave of my deepest beliefs, of my absolutes.

And what are those?

In the Unitarian Universalist church, instead of a creed, we have a covenant, and we have the principles. We "affirm and promote," among other things, the inherent worth and dignity of each person, as well as justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.

When we became parents, my husband and I found ourselves practicing our variation of attachment parenting. We were far from textbook in our approach to AP, but we captured the spirit of it. And the spirit of AP is very, very close to those UU principles. Love and respect for the unique child in front of you is the basis for AP. Not so different from inherent worth and dignity. Not so different at all.

Which is why I parent each of my children differently from the other. My daughter is not my son. My son is not my daughter. What motivates one of them leaves the other one cold. One child breastfed for 18 months, and the other breastfed for three years. Not because my beliefs about breastfeeding changed, but because that child needed to nurse longer than the other. My daughter and I reconnect by taking walks and talking, by chopping vegetables and singing along with the radio together in the kitchen. My son needs a more hands-on approach: he needs to hug, to snuggle. He needs 100% of my attention when we're together, craving interaction and affection.

I learned, too, as I went along my parenting path, that I am a very physical mother. I held my babies a lot when they were little. We shared our bed when they were little. They've "graduated" from my bed, but we still rely a great deal on touch in our family. My son, a day away from eight, still often sits on his dad's lap when we watch TV together. My daughter, almost ten, still rubs my arm the way she did as an infant. We hug a lot. We hold hands. We sit close together.

So strengths? Deal with each kid as an individual, and lots and lots of affection. Great! Done!

Or not.

Because I'm not as perfect as I look.

My greatest weakness in my parenting is rooted in my strength. With all that love and affection, and dealing with the child as a person, I have a hard time ignoring the irritating stuff they do. Yes, my kids are fantastic, but they are not perfect. And I don't tune them out very well. As a result, I get exasperated more than I should.

I also yell. I don't hit, and I don't call them names, and I don't make empty threats, but I do sometimes get loud. And that doesn't make me proud, but it does make me human. This is something I've been working on reducing, and I'm doing better.

I don't follow through so well. Their rooms? Are messy. Because I haven't made them clean them. Again, I get exasperated about this and occasionally blow up and yell, but I need to help them create a routine that works for them to keep things neat.

Okay, that's probably enough. Fortunately the proof is in the pudding, and my kids definitely make me look like a fabulous mother. Thanks, kids!


phsymom said...

I read this and thought, "Me ... ME this is so me." Only I'm a single mom and my son is now 15. I'm an affectionate mom that believes that every child needs something different.

I'm very lucky in that my son is a pretty good kid. He also seems to be able to tell me anything, which is what I wanted.

However like you I yell. I don't hit or call names I just get loud. I also am trying to stop, with my son's help. He calmly tells me sometimes, "Mom you are getting loud."

And the room thing ... I am so there. :D

Z said...

I am a single Dad and I have been since my children were 2 & 3, respectively, and they are now 13 & 14, respectively.

I used to yell too, especially regarding their hygiene. "BRUSH YOUR TEETH! TAKE A SHOWER! CLEAN YOUR ROOM!" And they wouldn't do these thing unless I yelled. But now, they can't brush their teeth or shower enough now that they are taking an interest in the opposite sex and having friends. They do these things on their own, and it is not because I yelled; it is because they have a reason to.

Their rooms are still a little left to be desired, but they are getting better. Not because of me. Because they have friends that come and visit and they don't want their friends to be grossed out.

I concluded a long time ago that yelling doesn't do any good, except to raise my blood pressure, so I just stopped yelling. In regards to their room, I concluded that is their sanctuary and, as long as it is safe and not attracting any nasty little critters or causing any nasty odors, let them keep it how they choose. I just ask that they keep their door closed so I don't have to look at it.

What did I learn from my experiences? Yelling doesn't motivate children to do anything. Or, at least it doesn't motivate them to do it because it is the right thing to do. If yelling gets them to do what you want, their actions are motivated by fear, not reason. As long as a parent plants the seed, when they get older, they will do the right thing because it is what they want to do.

Pam said...

Beautiful!! We are a very touchy family as well.

I yell too much too. But half as much a my mom did. She yelled half as much as her dad did. So it's diffusing over generations ;-).