One of Those Things

I mentioned in my last post that I’m having a problem with one of my children.

This is a dilemma of “mommy” blogging, if you will. Do I talk about this problem? How to do so in such a way that spares the feelings of the child in question? Is that possible? It is definitely desired.

There are stories that I haven’t told here, out of respect for my children. I don’t want them labeled as problem children, or think I am complaining about them, or that I don’t love them. Even as I am going out of my mind with frustration or worry, I steer away from this space to talk about it. Some of my lucky friends (who also read this blog) get alarmed emails from me, though.

How to ask for help without getting criticized for bad parenting, or exposing my child(ren) to outside criticism? Granted, this has proven to be a safe space (except for that one time I talked about the health care law). Then again, I certainly don’t want one of my kids stumbling on this space and thinking that she or he were ever a real problem child.

I also have the opportunity in this platform to *ask for help* though. People who know me and know my family know that I find one of my children to be a bit more challenging (most of the time; believe me, all my kids have their moments). She’s not a problem child, though, well-behaved in school, and well-loved by everyone she comes in contact with.

(I know, we all know who I’m talking about.)

It’s just that there are things that happen that I want to stop happening, now. Is there a book out there I should look at? A website? Something about stopping the negative attention feedback (“Even negative attention is good!”).

Or is this a phase that she is going through, and Dan and I just have to wait it out?

Or are middle/second children unique creatures that I need to study up on? (Dan and I are both oldest children.)

How can I become a better parent to this child, and relatedly to all my children? That’s the goal here: not to change her, or to change me, but to change the way we interact (when it’s bad, and it’s not always bad. She is a bright, funny, delightful, and loving child. And also GAH! STOP PUSHING EVERYONE’S BUTTONS!).

See where I’m going with this?

My husband said something that hit home with me recently: This is it. This is the only chance we get with our kids.

I’m not going to be a perfect parent. They aren’t going to be perfect kids. And I don’t want to helicopter — those are not the types of strategies I am looking for here.

I think I can do better with her, though. I just am not sure how.

So, my parent friends, my non-parent friends, my once-upon-a-time-I-was-a younger-sibling friends, my once-upon-a-time-I-was-a-challenging child friends: any suggestions for me?

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14 thoughts on “One of Those Things

  1. Em is my tough one. I mean, not that a teen boy is a walk in the park – he’s moody and broody and KNOWS EVERYTHING. But she is the dramatic, emotional, sometimes downright volatile one, and it is hard to deal with. Sometimes I feel like the biggest parental failure ever, because I just don’t know how to handle her. But along with being dramatic, emotional and volatile, she’s also kind and generous and loving, so I must be doing SOMETHING right.

    • Right! I know from the way reports come in from the outside world, that Dan and I are doing good things for Kate. She is a wonderful little girl.

      And she can be tough for us (for me). She has crossed the line from irrepressible to — you nailed it — volatile. She gets so ANGRY. It catches me off guard, and I’m not dealing with it well, which means I’m not helping her deal with it at all.

      • I had a moment last night when I was convinced I was the worst mom ever, based on Em’s behavior. I was seriously thinking that either a) I did a terrible job and raised a monster, or b) she is mentally ill. I mean I seriously has these thoughts. She is SUCH a challenge. So I came back here to remind myself I am not alone.

  2. I too have had some issues with my 9-year-old. But I don’t write about them too much because some people have come to my blog whom I did not necessarily want, and I don’t want those people to judge me or my child (I have found some Catholic school parents to be so judgmental and not very Christian-like, I am afraid). I feel your pain, and my blog is not even one that is well-traveled.

    With most things, I am sure part of it is a stage; I have already seen some improvement in my kid’s behavior over the past year. But I also know I need to be more consistent. Unfortunately, sometimes I just get so tired of fighting the battles, which I also fight while subbing, volunteering for lunch duty, and volunteering at an after-school program. Kids!

    Perhaps try praising good behavior more and ignoring bad behavior (unless it is really egregious). I think you already carve out time for your kids individually, which is important. I see some my older two nephews (almost 7 and almost 5) acting out because the younger ones (2-3/4, and 8 months) get all the attention. Though to be fair, the 2-3/4 is probably the worst! But it has to be so hard to find the time. It is not as if you can do it every day, and when you work, as you do, it is more efficient to do things with the kids together. I know you talked about chores before. Can you do some of the chores with the kids individually, then you will get to spend some one-on-one time with the girls, and can praise them appropriately?

    I don’t know. I am no expert on parenting, and I have only one, so I am not sure if this advice is even practical or would work. Best of luck.

    • I have gotten better at recognizing what she is doing well, and heaping praise on her. I have to get better at individual attention; it’s been a while since I had a Kate date. And no one is an expert at parenting. If I didn’t want a little advice, trust me, I wouldn’t mention my obstacles! 🙂

  3. One thing I can suggest is just keep lines of communication open. I remember often, my mom would tell me stories from when she was the age I was at the time. Trials, tribulations, all of that, and I found that by her going through what I was going through – we bonded and I felt more at ease to tell her things honestly.

    That’s all I’ve got. Because in a few years I’ll probably be in your boat.

  4. Well, I can tell you without a doubt, that yes, middle children are definitely special creatures. I’m a middle child and I can tell you that I struggled mightily with the “I’m not special because I’m not the oldest and I’m not the youngest” issue. It’s fairly typical of middle children. It did cause me to act out a bit, especially when my older sister got to do something that I couldn’t do. And it got even worse if my brother was being babied over something else at the same time.

    My mom did figure this out and started a special monthly weekend lunch with me. As a family we rarely went out so it was super special just to have my mom all to myself and to be able to do something that my sister didn’t get to do.

    All kids are different, no matter where they fall in birth order. It’s hard to figure out how to parent each one. And of course by the time we think we have it figured out, one of them changes the rules on us!

    • Your last sentence couldn’t be more true!

      I have noticed that kate acts out the most when I am dividing my attention between my oldest and my youngest. One needs to be constantly kept on task, and the other needs to be fed (or have his diaper changed, or what have you). So Kate has to get in on the action *somehow*. I am trying to find “jobs” for her to do to help me and lavish attention and praise on her that way. I do need to bring back the Kate date; with our schedules, it’s been hard for me to line that up.

      Thanks so much for your feedback!

  5. We found SOS help for parents very helpful. My oldest was a holy terror-she knows it and it wasn’t the kind of horrible you can hide – and I will try to mail it to you this week. Simple and clear and funny to keep you from taking yourself to seriously.

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