I have been feeling as if we've been letting DS run our whole lives.. .pretty much we let him do whatever he wants, when he wants it. I have been feeling as if I need to lay some more boundaries for him although I'm not really sure what those boundaries are.
Today I tried my first one and it's not going well. DS plays with DH outside every afternoon... today's weather has been cold and raining off and on. All the children outside have jackets on and pants. All the parents outside have jackets on. DH & I both have jackets on. When I informed DS that he could play outside when he had put a jacket on he lost it (and he is still losing it).
This is where the hard part is for me... half of me says it is very cold outside and he should have a jacket on. The other half of me says who am I to determine if he needs a jacket. I also know he would never ask for one even if he was cold. I am really unsure if this example is an appropriate boundary and that is my question.. how do you set appropriate boundaries? I think I have a really hard time with it because my childhood was so fucked up. While I realize forcing my 5 year old to sit at the dining room table staring at a bowl of oatmeal that s/he has never in his or her life liked for over 8 hours is an inappropriate boundary, I have so few examples of appropriate boundaries that I feel as if I'm in over my head.
I feel like an ogre right now because my child is throwing a tantrum over going outside with a jacket..it tears me apart. How does one deal with this?
Well, after writing this I went back downstairs and told DH what an ogre of a parent I felt like and what did he think. He thought we needed to let DS know that when it's cold we expect him to wear a jacket for his health (he has had a slight cold that we are VERY happy he is fighting on his own). DS had calmed down and wanted to eat some animal cookies which he did then when he was done he said "Red Jacket" and put on his red jacket and went outside with DH. I have a big smile on my face that he understood and dealt with it but still feel conflicted as to how to deal with my complete inability to understand boundaries. BTW, yes, that was me the girl who sat at the dining room table for 8 hours - just a short story to show you just how little good example I have.
I know how you feel. One of my stepmothers made me stay outside until 3am one day because I wouldn't eat potato salad. The only thing that has helped me in discovering the best way to parent for our family is reading as much as I can, and trying to surround myself with parents whom I respect and trust with children. We can't be perfect, so try not to beat yourself up too much about it. I also think that every family has different boundries; for example, something you may find perfectly acceptable, I may find crazy and vice versa. I do know that it has become a bit easier with my second child, and I hope even more so with the third. Hang in there, and I'm sure your son knows how much his Mommy loves him. Sometimes we do make mistakes, but how else can we learn?
This is such a difficult topic...My sister (I'm adopted, she's my bio half-sister raised by our bio-mom) was apparently raised with few, fuzzy boundaries. She's got a lot of issues, and she will be the first one to tell you they were because of that lack of defined boundaries.
OTOH, I was raised with a LOT of boundaries - and whether due to natural temperament or nurture, I never even pushed them. The one time my sister came out to visit when we were about 15 and 17, she couldn't believe how strict my (adopted) mom was. It didn't seem like a big deal to me, I never felt under some horrid yoke and felt like I had a pretty good childhood, but to her it appeared like servitude.
Well, now, guess who's all into defining boundaries for her child, and who is into being laidback (although it's NOT permissive, darnit! LOL) and trusting her child to, say, choose to wear a jacket if she's chilly? And which two sisters disagree about the other's treatment of her child almost every time they talk?
I was about to say I don't insist DD wear a jacket, and really I can't remember that I have, but it's not to say that I would definitely NEVER do it. But I do mention it if I know that it's chilly, and ask if she wants to wear one, and if she says she doesn't I'll just let her know I'm bringing it along anyway just in case she changes her mind. She does usually want to wear it, though, so it's not like your situation where your son just goes without it, though.
Sigh. This is just useless babbling, huh? It's so complicated, this parenting thing. I was talking about this with DD's daycare provider (and my best and only IRL pos parenting friend) today. One of the other little girls in her care, now, is a 4 y.o. who is just a little sweetheart. But, on the little info sheet the mom filled out, she wrote things like "count to three and then she gets a time-out" for the discipline block, that sort of thing. And Nicole's 4 y.o. son is just a wildman, so of course she's questioning herself. I just wish we could preview the future, because my heart tells me that little 4 y.o. will not be as self-disciplined and confident when she's 17 as Cole will...but who knows.
I think reasonable boundries are good for everyone and I also FIRMLY believe that it is NOT my job to "make my children happy". It IS my job to love them, respect them, comfort them, feed them, clothe them, cherish them, teach them etc...but not to make them happy.
I'm on this new parenting kick. I went to a workshop last weekend and it was AWESOME. I'm going to another next weekend. It's really not all about parenting, it's about communication and how to set boundries, and get what you NEED.
What fascinating stuff. This quote: "Nothing creates more resistance than telling people they "should" or "have to" or "must" or "ought to" do something." was especially interesting to me. My beloved DH (remember we're in counseling!?) finds it nearly impossible to phrase things without Should. As in, "She's getting pretty tired, you should gett her to go to sleep." It absolutely incenses me and he is so unaware that he does it. This Jackal/Giraffe thing has me very very interested. It's also quite PET-ish, too. I like that in a thing.
This method is SO COOL!! It's a little TCSish, but it also recognizes that we all have needs, and gives us the tools to get what we NEED (and heck.....even recognizing what it is that we need is hard)....parents AND children.
Yes!!! And it is not my job to "make" anyone happy, as I keep telling DH....m" Love, cherish, respect, meet needs and treat with dignity by all means, but I cannot *make* anyone feel happy. Not my children, not my MIL, not my husband, not the Parents and Friends Association or my best friend. It is not within my power Thank you for posting all this!
I'd say that boundaries should be set for reasons of safety. That's not always how it goes in our house, but I definately wouldn't make them wear something they didn't want to. I'm forever telling them to listen to their inner voices, and if their inner voice says they're not hot, I don't push it.
Punitive would have been not taking a jacket with you so when he realized he was cold he wouldn't have warmth - poisitive is letting HIM decide when he's cold and hot. Here are some boundaries I set today.
The boys can't go down to the creek anymore (we ammended that to "decide how long when Dad comes home to see if that is reasonable or not") because for the past 4 days I've been asking them to bring garbage and plates and stuff up from there that they've brought down.
The boys had to sit at the kitchen table until I felt I could trust them again - and not go outside - when they said that no matter what I said (family rule is, you're not allowed to go into the front yard without Mom or Dad present) they'd go in the front yard. This was actually punitive, but I was pissed. We talked for a while (I was in the kitchen the whole time) so it ended up not being punitive - or they understood why I was so pissed.
We have a family rule about food. They boys can fix whatever they want to eat or drink - as long as they finish what they start (unless they are trying an experiment - and that is monitored by me). Pike poured some rice milk earlier and didn't finish it. He then wanted apple juice and I said that he had to finish the milk. Full on tantrum - screaming, crying, screaming, lying on the floor screaming, kicking, pounding on the floor, screaming (you get the picture). He kept screaming, "please can I have apple juice" and I answered him a few times (no, not until you drink the rm) then told him that I'd already answered the question. It was the kind of screaming that people call the police on.
So, I try holding him on my lap - he wants no part of that. I try "ignoring" him - telling him that when he wants a hug, to let me know - but I had to take care of Caroline (who is screaming herself).
Finally, I pop some RR into his mouth and he calms - but is still on the edge, so we make a deal. I'll put the RM in the fridge and tomorrow before he drinks ANYTHING, he finishes the RM. Then gave him applejuice and he was a different boy.
Sounds like the way things go here. Friday we went on our Mabon hike and DS did not want to bring a jacket (in fact when I packed in our backpack he was pissed off, like I wasn't listening to him) but I had already reminded him that even if it was warm enough in our yard we'd be in the woods and along the river and it would be colder there. When the need for a jacket was expressed I was able to give it to him without a word.
Last night I sent him from the dinner table - apparently DH's and my very existence was "bugging him" and after we asked what we could do to improve his mood and he told us to leave we said leaving was an option, but as we were eating he'd have to remove himself from the situation - we suggested he take his plate into the livingroom. He threatened to throw an ear of corn at me and the threatening landed him and his plate in his room. He came down in about 5 minutes and apologized.
Luckily no screaming fit - but those still happen regularly.
*sigh* Set boundaries you can live with - if you are feeling resentful about something it's probably a good place for a boundary. I'd feel resentful if I'd worried about DS being pissed about me bringing a jacket along just in case because it would have cut our hike short if I hadn't, but him not choosing to wear the jacket didn't bother me. Does that help at all?
I don't feel like I'm a good person to ask today because DH and I are at odds on where some boundaries should be and he's making me feel invalidated and I'm making him feel invalidated. Dealing with a whole houseful of needs and wants is damned hard sometimes!
I can relate...mine was brussel sprouts, I had nightmares, but listen, you are the parent. I believe as parents, it's up to us to "guide" our children, as well give them the opportunity to make their own choices. It's up to us to make sure that the choices they make are good ones. Eventually, your son made the right choice, and he was allowed to express himself at the same time. Both you and your DH did the right thing, obviously, since your son "asked" for his jacket in the end. He realized that he was allowed to tell you he didn't want that jacket, but he also "understood" that he "should" wear his jacket because of his health, and also because Mommy and Daddy said it was best for him. Time is essential in the learning process for both parent and child. Does that make any sense?