Friday, August 22, 2014

I Don't Know What I'm Doing

I'm typically more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of girl than a expert-advice-article-reading mama. 
However, Ainsley stumps me daily so I've been looking for some out-of-the-box, creative solutions for my out-of-the-box child. Let me tell you girlfriend, those articles are enough to make a girl crazy!

Time-ins are the way to go. Time outs will damage your child. 
Time outs are crucial for strong willed children.
Don't let your children know when their behavior make your sad
Showing your children their behavior makes you sad is critical.
Ignore tantrums. Don't reinforce the behavior.
Ignoring tantrums will make things worse. 
Spanking is a necessary part of discipline. 
Spank, and CPS will be showing up at your door. 
Distract your child during tantrums. 
Distracting your child is rewarding the unacceptable behavior.

For real. You can find all of the above AND MORE. 

All the screaming lately has made my emotions a little raw, and reading/hearing/getting advice from others that is so finite makes me feel like a failure at times. If this method is supposed to work, why isn't it working on my child? Is she a bad kid? (NO!) Am I failing? (I struggle with this one a little more) .

So after I've made myself crazy sifting through all of this "expert advice", I've decided that I think we are kidding ourselves. Let's be honest. We DON'T KNOW. Kids don't come with an owners manual with how to parent them specifically. And one method could be right for one kid while being completely wrong for another. There's no magic bullet. Why do these expert sources with extensive studies claim to be the fix-all? We don't have simple, across the board solutions. Sure, things like consistency and staying calm help, but as far as specifics, those are up in the air. And I'm not just talking about tantrums here.

You don't have to look far to see articles with titles like this:

Potty Train your child in three days. 
Stop tantrums for good. 
Never hear back-talk again. 
How I made my child love broccoli. 

These should really say:

Potty train your child in 3 days if they are ready and want to be and don't decide to be stubborn and throw tantrums every time "potty" is mentioned. 
How I stopped a tantrum one time and it might work again in the future.
This might help decrease back talk. If you're lucky.
My child likes broccoli now but it's probably a fluke. 

Where did the idea come from that we have complete control over our children?

Please don't interpret that I'm saying we should let our children run free like wild animals and color on the walls and scream in church and wear underwear on their heads and eat jelly beans all day. I just don't like feeling that people expect me to completely control my child's behavior.  Example: a couple months ago I heard two ladies gossiping about how I can't control my daughter. Well obviously! The point of this life is to make our choices. Christ's plan was for us to choose. I don't think Heavenly Father wants us to force our children into cookie-cutter robots. Again, I'm not saying that parenting isn't SO important because it IS, but I can't necessarily WILL my child to stop throwing a tantrum or to stop being social and waving and saying hi at everyone. Basically, if you see my child laying on the floor kicking and screaming, move along. I can't stop it, so we wait. and pray. and wait. and keep going. Letting go of the notion that I control my daughter's behavior lessens my stress and makes me a better mom. I realize now that it's not my job!

If we really knew what worked and how to control our kids, there would be one book. It would be plated with gold and cost a bazillion dollars. But there's not. Instead there are a bazillion books that you can pick up at the local Goodwill for fiddy cents.

We can help, but we can't make decisions for them. Some kids might always struggle with regulating emotions or sharing or learning things at the same rate as their peers or listening well. Whats the big deal? I'm sure you know adults with all of these flaws. I have lots! It's not because of what my mom did or didn't do. We need to help and teach our children, but internalizing their flaws and struggles as our own fault isn't helpful for anyone. The goal is to become like Christ, yes, but I think He cares more that we are progressing than where we are on the scale of perfectness.

Gosh, my thoughts are all over the place. If this blog post was a painting, it would be a Picasso, with less skill. Maybe more like one of Ainsley's paintings.

Let's get back on track.

I feel that God's expectations of us as mothers are actually pretty simple. He wants us to teach them to love Him. Also, he wants us to keep trying. I don't think we can fail in His eyes if we do those two things. Do what you can and don't worry about the rest. Don't let your inability to be perfect keep you from doing good enough!

Rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. And “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope.”


Katie said...

I about died reading your alternate headlines. Because, seriously. Trying to sift through parenting articles is NO JOKE. You can find every solution to every problem, but they're all different answers. I think the biggest thing, for me, has been to realize that I need to research everything I can, and then come up with my own solution and pray about it. I liked what you said about not completely controlling our kids (dang those gossipers!) and what you said about progression. I also like that you said "fiddy."

Jenna Foote said...

This is why you HAVE to read The Child Whisperer! It's all about how you're not failing as a parent because kids come as they are. They are born a certain way and it's our job to honor their true nature in our parenting. You will love it. I swear. It's like the most non-parenting parenting book around!

-Danica- said...

^^ I second the child whisperer book. IT CHANGED MY LIFE. I know I have no hope of EVER controlling the sassy little daughter (seriously, the tantrums? the attitude? the feeling that I am raising a 3 year old teenager? kill me now) but I feel like I sort of understand what some of her craziness is about. Its helped eliminate a lot of tantrums, but mostly it helps give me some sanity for understanding the other ones.

Oh and thanks for that quote, I keep praying my kids attitude away and for some reason its not working. Guess its more of that "patience" stuff people keep talking about.

Emma Ashby said...

This is the best post about parenting ever! You are amazing Alexis and I wish I could really say how awesome I thought this post was but I'm not that great at words. Haha. But I really really really love it. I can't stand reading some (most) of the articles out there and I just have to remind myself that my kids are probably going to turn out okay if I'm doing my best and trusting in Heavenly Father. Anyway, I think you're super cool and wish I could hang out with you and your sassy girl!

Ariana said...

"My child likes broccoli now but it's probably a fluke."


Amen sista.

Jacquie Lyman said...

You hit the nail right on the head with exactly what all of us are thinking. I've learned now to not even open those articles. I just ignore them. Parenting books? No thanks. How are we supposed to read one book and magically know everything there is to know about controlling our child and molding them into the perfect human being? I'm pretty sure we'll all die before we have time to read every single one that claims to be the truth. Lately instead, I've been trying to shift my attention to watching the mothers of children who seem to be healthy, well-behaved and polite, etc. to see what their tricks are. The common denominator with all of these mothers is one thing: they are women of God. They are just doing everything they can to be good, Christlike people and to have faith in Him. Each one of them has gone through a time with their children like this, but all their kids have turned out great because their mother has shown them through her example to be righteous and happy.

Don't know if any of that made sense or came out how I wanted it to, but you probably get the idea. Basically, just keep doing what you're doing sister. And pray a lot. Ainsley's a great kid and you're a great mom.