Thursday, August 7, 2014

10 ways to get your child to hate you

Treat him like a child
Annette Lareau found that treating your kid like a child makes them feel, even as they get older, that you don’t think they are capable of thinking and acting like an adult. You may think, “When little Joey is an adult, I will treat him like one”. But all little Joey knows is that YOU think HE is not capable. Research shows that children who get more respect as a child, not only expect to be respected but show genuine respect as well. Instead of saying, “You can’t play with that because you’ll break it” try saying, “Let’s play with this other toy because it won’t break as easily”

Rub in mistakes
We all make mistakes. Feeling guilt and damaged pride is a normal thing. It is not something we create by belittling each other. Belittling actually encourages us to defend our actions and resent the attacker.
What I try to do is calmly and friendly ask questions to see if my child understands the consequences of his actions: “How do you think Suzie felt when you knocked her down? What could we do to avoid it from happening again?” Remember if we teach them HOW to THINK through these situations, we won’t have to always jump in after to remind them WHAT they should have DONE.

Change the rules without notice
Remember last week when that cop pulled you over and gave you a ticket because you were wearing a red shirt? No, you don’t. Because we don’t get in trouble for rules that are made up on a whim. We are given rules ahead of time and a choice to break them. If I get a ticket for speeding it’s because I was trying to get away with speeding, even though I knew I was breaking a rule.
The truth is that we can’t feel comfortable in a space where we don’t know the rules because without them punishments seems random and without cause. You can’t be successful if you don’t know the rules because how can you meet expectations if you don’t know them? How can our children feel comfortable around us if we don’t clearly communicate our what we expect from them?
“It is common knowledge to not interrupt people when they’re talking!” Um. Actually it’s not. I don’t know about your babies, but mine sure don’t come out knowing that they shouldn't cry when I’m in the middle of a conversation. (Wouldn’t that be nice!) We only know that because someone taught us. Try instead to give them a warning that includes the rule “Sugar Pie Honey Doll, when someone is talking it’s polite to wait until a break in the conversation to ask for a turn.”

Be boring
Let’s face it. We like to have fun. Do I really expect my children to WANT to be around me if I can’t have fun? So, laugh with them. Be interested in what they’re interested in. Do something together that THEY chose. I don’t want my kids to be forced to find “fun” in dangerous places because they don’t find it at home. And remember, you may be having fun on your phone but from your child’s prospective, the phone is more fun than they are and they’ll look forward to the day when they can ignore you while on their phone.

Make it all about YOU
Not only are we made aware of the rules that we must follow, we also understand general consequences. And believe it or not, breaking rules is part of our everyday life. It’s called risk vs. reward. I choose to speed when on my way to the emergency room because the reward of making sure my child lives is greater than the risk of a $100 ticket. We do this in small things as well. No bathroom break during class? No running at the pool? Don’t be late for work? I have broken all of these rules and I did it because I was between a rock and a hard place and I knew the risk of breaking the rule and chose it. I would argue that SUCCESSFUL people know WHEN to choose to break a rule and HOW to accept the consequences that follow.
Here is the problem: We have a hard time giving consequences without mixing in a poison—emotion. Your child WILL choose to break rules. He will choose to play instead of cleaning his room. Not because he is a horrible child. Not because he doesn’t love you. But because he has evaluated the risk and the reward and he is choosing to risk it. When we tie negative emotion to cleaning a dirty room, driving, etc, we have a hard time ever approaching those tasks without anxiety.
Instead, I try to make consequences known and if they choose to break the rule they get the consequence. Period. “Johnny, I’ve asked you 3 times to take the trash out. If it’s not done tonight, I’m going to take away a privilege.” (Now reread that quote without sarcasm.) Although, I do believe it helps to say things like, “We all have a job. My job is to cook you meals. Are you glad that I do my job? I would also appreciate it if you did your job.” And if Johnny doesn’t take out that trash, then HE is choosing his own consequence. It has nothing to do with your personal relationship.

Treat him like a slave
I realize the weight of the words I chose here, which is why I chose them carefully. Yesterday I sat in front of a family at an event a family, like mine, with two young sons. The mother and father treated them like slaves. The disdain in their voices as they told the boys repeatedly to “Sit down and Shut up!” “You are rude and annoying! Now, get away from me!” I can’t even imagine saying those things to a dog, much less to an impressionable human child that I am in charge of protecting from the bad in the world. The thing is, the boys weren't even doing anything bad or wrong. To ask, “Dad, can I sit on your lap?” and be treated like that. I can hardly contain my sadness. I admit, I have come close to saying things like this maybe twice EVER when I was incredibly overwhelmed by screaming and crying. But to be in a calm, family environment where your kids are only asking to sit on your lap or get a smile from you…I don’t even want to imagine what goes on in that home.
I’m going to believe that most families are not like that. I’ll choose to believe that we know how important our job is as parents. That we play such an important role in our children’s lives: the role of painting the world.
Another way we can not treat them like our property is by asking instead of demanding. How we talk to our children, is how they learn to talk to each other and THEMSELVES. As an adult, do you still have trouble getting your mother’s voice out of your head? I have found, through personal experience that the FEELINGS and WORDS that we use to handle situations in the home with our young children, are stored away to be used over and over again in the minds of our children as they face similar situations throughout their lives. (“We are the narrator of our children’s minds” More on this in a later post)

Always disagree with him
“Your shoes are so cute!”
“No they’re not”
“I am so disappointed in them”
“No. You love them”
As annoying as that is, don’t we do that to our children? “This ball is SO BIG” “No, it’s small” “I hate her!” “You don’t hate her” There is a better way to guide our children through their thought processes without invalidating everything they say.
As part of an improv group, I learned a technique called “Yes, and…” wherein you guide the conversation in a new direction without discrediting what has already been said. I use that with my children. “Mom, I’m going to draw a picture for you on the table.” And instead of responding, “Don’t you draw on that table Addicus Jake Winter or you are going to time out!” I say “For me?! Why don’t you use your really cool Elmo coloring book? I would love that.”  I find something good in the statement and add something else to it. If I can’t do that then I ask for more information; “Do you say you hate her because she took your truck? You can also say, ‘That made me really mad’” I find that giving children a better way to communicate hard feelings means fewer tantrums. This leads me to the next point.

Misunderstand him
A common phrase I remember saying and hearing as a teenager was, “My friends ‘get’ me”. As a parent, I hope that if anyone makes my child feel understood, it is me. After all, I have spent the most time with him and put the most energy into his happiness. But good relationships are not just about understanding or caring for someone. They are about making sure that person FEELS understood and cared about. (Gottman) It is an understatement to say that we care about our children. But what are we doing on a daily basis to make sure they feel it? “This is an awesome picture! Tell me about what you drew.” “What was your favorite part about today? Yeah? Is this the same girl you liked last year?” I like to stick in some teaching here in the form of personal stories, “Yeah, even though there were a lot of guys that I really liked, I’m really glad I didn’t let things get too physical” (These are some of the most memorable learning moments from my childhood, even if they were in the form of, “I wish I hadn’t…”) Honesty means relatability. I believe THAT is why teenagers love their friends, because they share relatable experiences.
If mapquest tells me that I can get to Target in 5 minutes, I’m a lot less inclined to believe it if it doesn't acknowledge where I am. You show me that you understand exactly where I am and I’ll be much more inclined to believe that you can lead me to where I want to go.

Blame him for his handicaps
My almost 2 year old is getting really good at throwing fits. I don’t worry. I know that EVERY child throws fits and no matter what I do, he will still go through this phase. But I also know that it is my job to let him know what is and what isn’t appropriate. I can ignore inappropriate behavior and reward good behavior with my attention.
I don’t necessarily believe in coddling but I do believe in giving him plenty opportunities to be successful. “Darren, do you want a hug?” If I get screams and hitting, I simply walk away and try again in a minute or so. “Darren, would you like some water?” I will continue that pattern, offering him appropriate options (not candy just to shut him up), until he has calmed himself enough to accept my help. I offer lots of attention as praise for him using his words appropriately.

Yell at him
I cannot tell you the last time I was yelled at. Why? Because adults—mature ones in my opinion—do not yell at each other. But I definitely remember that being yelled at is REALLY not fun. And I get it. Parenting is so INCREDIBLY hard. Kids never give you your space and they always want something from you. But someday when my boys are teenagers they will say the same of me. So, if I yell now I am saying, “Throwing a fit is TOTALLY appropriate and you can continue them until you’re my age. I sure have!” It helps to know that if I am yelling, it means I have lost control. My action means my responsibility.
One thing that I’ve found incredibly helpful is taking a break. Professor John Gottman, a well-known researcher of family relationships, found that it takes about 20 minutes for our heart rates to return to normal after a confrontation. So in my house you can regularly hear, “I’m frustrated! I love you! I’ll be back in 20 minutes!” I close and lock the door. Most days I get by with less but if I need it, hey! I figure we are all better off if my kids are unraveling the toilet paper and jumping off the couch for 10 minutes, rather than me yelling all day. (I’d suggest child proofing your house before using this technique) We are all better for it in the end.

*Disclaimer* Though I've included some of Gottman's research, this is my opinion based on my experience, research, and my Bachelor's degree in Family Life. I realize that I've made some claims that could be considered controversial. I invite you to use your best judgement.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Happiness: The Pursuit

I live a simple life. It is meaningful and I love it, but it is simple. It is full of obligation, sacrifice and compromise. I think that's why it gets me so frustrated to hear people always talk about searching for their "happiness". When I imagine what my life would be like if I were only interested in the pursuit of my own happiness, it in no way includes doing the dishes or enduring little people screaming at me.

What about selflessness? Do we value that? Can we pursue that? What about duty, charity, or love? And I don't mean the fluffy, "he loves EVERYTHING about me", because-it-feels-good love. I mean the real, "you could lose all your limbs in a car wreck today and I wouldn't think twice about taking care of you for the rest of my life" kind. The "I refuse to talk bad about you to my family, even when I think you're ruining my life" kind of love. 

In what other age could we so freely dismiss the effort included in relationships and the honor of hard work? No wonder drugs are a prevalent part of our society. Pursuit of happiness? Done. The argument I'm trying to make is that constantly pursuing your own happiness is probably the best way to ensure that you won't be happy. Heartbreak, obligation, and just plain ol' "hard stuff" is just a part of life. Imagine the constant disappointment if your whole existence is about trying to avoid the inevitable.

I'm not saying, "don't be happy". I'm not saying, "endure abuse" or "don't follow your dreams". I'm just saying that we would probably all be a little better off if we were a little more grateful. If we were a little more patient. If we focused on making someone else's day a little happier.

Are we setting our children up for failure by letting them believe that they NEED to be happy all the time? That things always have to be fair? That they will always end up on top? Yes, you will have a lot of moments of happiness. You will also spend a lot of your life failing and doing things you don't want to do and that is OKAY. We all go through it. Hard times pass, just like that feeling of happiness. At the end of the day, are we at peace with who we have become because of it all and who we helped along the way? If I only teach my children one thing, I hope that it is to be happy doing hard things. Be grateful. Be helpful. Be kind. And happiness will find you.

Now, I'll scoot my soap box back under the table.

Friday, November 1, 2013

We're back!

Well... two years and one baby later I am blogging again! Mainly I just want to post awesome pictures of my cute boys. So, here they are! These are the ones we took this summer. 


 And that was it. We were really ready to go.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Do you know those dreams you wake up from and feel like you should repent? I had one of those last night. This girl got Simon and me kicked out of the testing center. I was so mad. I cussed at her and we started fighting. She was a runaway convict, after all, so I had every right to hate her. Right?Anyway, I'm totally winning when I see her stomach so I think, "If I can just bite her once on the stomach..." So, I go for it.

I wake up to Will screaming. "Did you BITE me?" I realized that I was dreaming and I must have actually lunged for him as I dreamed of biting this girl. "Yes..?" I said sheepishly. Will got up to see the bite mark in the light. It looked awful. I had to laugh. As far as I know, I don't walk or talk in my sleep. But I bite?

I have to say though, even though I have to put up with Will teasing me about my transformation into a vampire, it is nice having so much of the bed to myself now.

Monday, September 26, 2011

family trip

For my little sisters wedding, we went to Austin for a week to spend time with our families and help with the wedding. We had a really nice time.

This will be Will and me in 40 years.

Will really wanted to take Simon to the Zoo. I'm glad too because Simon really loves animals.

Some of the animals we were really excited to show him but he couldn't get past looking at the gate around them.

But he loved the fish and the birds.

Will was so excited to show him everything. It was like 110 degrees out on the day that we went. We could feel it and so could the animals.

The thing I was really excited to see was the giraffe...but a zoo worker told us that their giraffe died a few months before. That's no surprise in that heat but what the heck?

Will wanted to see bears but there were signs saying that because the bears wer
e old, they got to go inside where it wasn't so hot. So, we didn't see some of the things we wanted to. :( Bummer. But overall, it was a great trip.

Simon was really happy about it.

We also had dinner with Will's family.

Grandpa read Simon a book in Italian.

It was a great trip but we are excited to be back to our home and routine.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pics of Simon: 5 1/2 Months Old

little arm bracelet.

my baby boy...
Wish my arm pit was so cute!
so curious...