Friday, December 21, 2012

My parenting evolution

This isn't a profound post about the evolution of parenting as a whole. I am not that thoughtful and rarely profound. Instead I decided to force some of my parenting decisions on you. Errrrr, I mean share them with you, yes share.

I am a mother to twin 8 yr olds, a 6 yr old and we are expecting another one in June. I love my kids but they go through phases like nobody's business. Every time I think I have parenting figured out they throw me a curveball and its time to evolve. AGAIN.

I am pretty strict with my kids overall. I explain my expectations before we go anywhere or experience anything. If they cant handle it i have to choose to alter my expectations or haul them out of the situation.

Of course my expectations vary greatly.

At the park - if you can't seem me I can't see you. Wait your turn. Don't put things from the ground into your mouth. Tell me you need to go the bathroom before its already happening. Do not speak to other adults.

At the store - do not touch anything unless you're asked. Want something? Put it on your birthday or Christmas list or buy it yourself. Stay next to me. Tell me you need to go to the bathroom before its already happening. Do not speak to other adults.

At school - do your best today. Be kind to someone. Don't forget your homework. Don't put anything but food into your mouth. Speak to adults when they speak to you. Wait your turn.

At the doctor office - wait quietly. Speak to adults when they ask you questions. Don't touch anything. Wash your hands before, during and after visits. Then sanitize your entire body when you get home.

And so on and so on. My boys can generally tell you what's expected of them in most situations and usually rise to the occasion. They are genuinely good kids.

But despite my best efforts we hit bumps in the road. There was a time when my twins were about 3 that they began exploring boundaries. I lost my oldest like 5 times in one month. We stopped going anywhere without an adult assigned specifically to him until this little phase ran its course. Parks and beaches began to give me nightmares.

Another time my boys forgot all forms of table manners and patience for a period of like 6 months. This meant that we didn't go to restaurants for 6 months. I also considered tying them to chairs but was vetoed by my saner husband.

In any situation (barring places like the dr. Office where I can't leave...) if my kids can't meet my expectations they get a warning and a chance to apologize. If that doesn't work, we leave. My mom told me when my babies were still very young that it was important to always be ready to leave the party, shopping cart, etc... If your child can't handle it. I followed her advice to great success. O course there are definitely exceptions like new situations, unfair pressure from others or learning opportunities where you stick it out. But, the majority of the time I just up and leave whenever I need to. It's a consequence that they understand and respect. Of course if we ever go somewhere they don't want to I guess I'm screwed because they can totally use this method against me.

This past month we've been having bump after bump. Moe cries to get his way, Curly has gotten really into wrestling whether his brothers want to or not and Larry thinks its okay to yell at me anywhere, anytime. So we're taking a break from life :)

Not really, but we have quit almost all of their extracurricular activities at least for the next month or so. They are all getting really good at writing apology letters and we are using a discipline method my husband created called the reset button. This Christmas break we planned nothing. We are mostly staying home or running errands and learning how to behave all over again. I'm sure we're missing out on all sorts of holiday fun but we're doing what we can handle right now.

I'm praying this phase will be short lived and thankful that I've experience crazy phases like this before so that I know there's a light at the tunnel. My parenting is constantly evolving to handle the challenges that are thrown my way. I'm never sure if I'm doing it right but every time they say thank you without a reminder, ask to use a bathroom when we're near one, remember to put on their shoes without a reminder or use a Kleenex instead of picking their nose I know we're on the right track or at least the track that will lead to the right track.

How about you? How do you handle those bumps in the road where your angelic children suddenly act like you've been feeding them crazy pills?

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