Sometimes all you can do is sit with yourself. And think. Sometimes all you can do is be honest and hold yourself accountable. Specifically, for the things you haven't been doing well. That's where I've been lately.
My kid does not have good parents lately. And by "lately" I mean for the last year. (At least.) Reading this blog post by Hands Free Mama the other day really drove home this point for me. And then, when I re-read this post of mine, well, I just felt awful. I know that I am sometimes a bully to him. I know that both his parents sometimes bully him. It's simply unacceptable. The parent I've become is not the one my son (either of them) deserves, not the one I want them to have.
The whole birth-5yrs age range is one I'm good at. I totally know how to deal with it. Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect at it, because lord knows I'm not. But, I'm knowledgeable and feel pretty competent even in addressing and overcoming the inevitable bumps in the road.
However, since the kid has surpassed that age range, well, I've been grasping at straws, fumbling along, and overall sucking. Now, it's not like that's a completely new realization for me. But, reading that blog post made me really face that what I've been sucking at has serious and long-term implications for my son and for our relationship. And that was like a punch in the gut. And, hopefully, an impetuses to change.
Unfortunately for the kid, baby E was born just before the kid passed out of the range I'm good at. And, had E not come along at that particular point, I might have managed this all better. But he did. And I didn't. So here we are. Two, almost 3 years later, my poor boy with a crappy momma.
Now, I have my moments, when I'm not so bad, moments when I feel like I've hit the nail on the proverbial parenting head, but I feel like those are few and far between. I don't expect perfection - from either of us ("done is better than perfect" is one of my favorite sayings), but I do want to be able to look back at the end of a week and not think, "aw crap" when I review the parent I've been to him. I find myself often frustrated by, impatient with, and overall pissed off by what I*know* are typical behaviors for his age. We're talking, lying, sneakiness, being inconsiderate of others. (Also, please know, these are not behaviors my kid does all the time; most of the time he is such a good, kind, sweet boy. But, when these behaviors do pop up, well, ugh.)
I think my frustration is mostly because I don't know what to do to address those behaviors. I know all about 123 Magic and we use it with varying degrees of success (it works for stopping a behavior already in progress, but not in preventing those behaviors). I know about behavior charts, but, and I'll be honest here, hubby is not on board with these (in that he lacks the consistency to make them work. Which is an issue in and of itself, I admit). Also, I don't find that they again help in the preventing of the behaviors. Lots of techniques we've used work in redirecting him mid-behavior. Not much works (thus far) in preventing.
I don't know where to start. I feel like there are tons of books, blogs, and other resources for the littles, and for the teens. (Funny enough, those are the ages I feel best at, either end of the spectrum.) But, I can't seem to find anything for this age (the kid is 7, almost 8). Perhaps this is the "easy" age for everyone else and I'm just the oddball.
So, here's where you come in. What are your best (concrete!!!) tips for parenting school-aged kids? What books, what blogs, what resources do you suggest? Throw 'em at me. Please.
I will be a better parent this year. It's my I-don't-make-New-Years-resolutions resolution for 2014. And I need you to help me and to hold me accountable.
Today's Lesson: It can be hard to admit you are wrong. It can be hard to admit you need help. Certainly both are also humbling.