How do You Rise Above?

Remember me? Probably not, but now that the holidays, bronchitis, and stomach flu have come and gone, I thought I might poke my head outside the confines of my home (through the magic of the internet) and reacquaint myself with our wonderful blog. I apologize to the Wiz and Heather for being so flaky!
After reading Heather’s post about Jacob’s heartbreaking outburst, I got thinking about my relationship with my oldest daughter. She is 7 ½ years old and is really for the most part very sweet and wonderfully helpful. However, in the last few months I’ve watched as the rosy magical vision of a young young child has begun to give way to a more realistic perspective.
I’m afraid that I don’t look so hot with her new vision and that suddenly I’m not the wonderful, all-knowing, infallible parent I once was in her eyes. Our relationship has changed and become much more contentious than it has ever been. She’s acting and speaking out when she’s upset and let’s face it, the Mom is an easy target. I realize this is my fault because instead of rising above the fray, I’m engaging her and thereby feeding the fire. On a rational level, I know that she loves me and is still pretty young to really understand what she’s doing and saying. I know that when she says things like "You made this the worst day ever!" Or "Why don’t you love me?" Or "It’s all YOUR fault!" Or "You lied, you said you would do this and you didn’t!" I should walk away and then approach her when we are both calm and rationally discuss the issues, but still hold her accountable for being rude and disrespectful.
Sounds like I know everything right? So, what’s the problem? Here’s the problem, it really hurts my feelings when I’m working so hard to be the very best Mom to her and yet I can’t seem to do anything right. As a result I don’t walk away, instead I react defensively and so it goes. For the record, I am 6 months pregnant and have never felt so busy and stretched in so many different directions. There’s a high probability that I’m probably just totally out of whack and completely overreacting; however, whatever the cause I need to get this resolved. So, I’m asking all you mothers who have dealt with this, how do you brace yourselves against the inevitable onslaught of criticism from those you’ve given everything in your power for?


Anonymous JKS said...

I'm a believer in one on one time with children. I can be patient and enjoy them.
In looking at what she is doing, I'd say she is feeling the stress of a new baby coming.
I have always found the best thing to counteract my oldest's unhappiness/acting out is positive attention. (She's 8) last summer she kept saying things like "Will you play a game with me? I think we should spend more time together."
Each month I have a Mommy daughter date with her (the next month I go out with my son but since he's in kindergarten he gets me to himself more than she does so he doens't need it) and my husband does the alternate months. She looks forward to this. We've gone to restuarannts, a play, and iceskating.
Also, I made her bedtime a little later so that I got the other kids in bed first, and then I could concentrate just a little bit on her, even if she just talked to me while I put the dishes away. Or we play a quick card game sometimes.
It doesn't have to be anything big, but something simple that helps her feel close to you and know that you think she is important. Start reading a favorite book together every night. Even if you stop when the book is done, it will have been something special you did together.
I'm sure it is not the answer for all kids. But for my first, it makes a huge difference.
Another thing about sibling rivalry is don't blame the baby for what you can't do anymore. "Mommy is tired because she's pregnant so that is why your life has changed." She is young and there isn't a cute baby for her to really love yet, so be careful to not invite resentment by pointing out why you aren't the same.

1/06/2006 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

Welcome back, Andrea. Nice to see you posting again.

I agree with JKS. One on one time is crucial, even though it's hard to carve out that time sometimes.

Also, she is doing this because it works. You're engaging her, and giving her way too much power. If this stops working, and she's still getting attention(positive) from mom, then this behavior will go away. But if it still works occasionally - say, when you're super tired and pukey, then she'll still try it. So it takes a super human effort to "rise above."

Here's what I do , inspired by my children :)--- Whenever I feel like engaging in behavior that I know in my head is counterproductive, I picture a "Mother May I" game, and take two giant steps backward before I respond. That split second and that particular image really helps me gain perspective, and "step back" from the situation.

1/06/2006 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

I know this isn't on the spot helpful, but the book called PET (Parent Effectiveness Traing)by Thomas Gordon,, has changed my parenting style. It is kind of slow at first, but it really focuses on problem ownership, and active listening; two things that we all can be better at. Sometimes the words that come out aren't the real problem.
Good Luck

1/06/2006 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger annegb said...

I have no idea. It still hurts my feelings.

My little granddaughter is 11, going on 21, and she is starting to give me attitude. Like "Grandma is losing it" sort of thing. It doesn't bother me as much, I ignore it and I still adore her.

Buttgold and me, we went through this. I am finally starting to overcome the stress of the wedding and we are getting along okay now.

Brace yourself hon, it could get worse. Oh sorry, I cracked myself up. She's awfully young. Maybe she's having some stresses at school/with friends? Girls are so mean to each other. Really.

I suggest this, it never failed: I would go into my kids' room after they were tucked, like go back, you know, and sit on the end of their bed in the dark and listen. It worked every time. They just start talking and all you have to do is listen. Maybe she'll tell you what's really bugging her.

good luck

1/07/2006 03:44:00 AM  
Blogger Mo Mommy said...

wow annegb, what a great idea! *tucks in pocket for future reference* I wonder if it works on Hub Units too...

1/07/2006 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

Bedtime is an excellent time to talk. My 8 year old tells me stuff....maybe because she doesn't want to go to sleep yet.
She wouldn't say much about the first day of school, for instance, until bedtime.
Also, bedtime is when she asked about heart attacks and after answering that and probing a little more (was she worried about Dad dying of a heart attack? Did she have questions about her body working right?) She told me for the first time that she has vision problems!
So, definitely it is a good time to give her a chance to bring up anything that is bothering her.

1/07/2006 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Heather O. said...

Jacob and I have great talks at bedtime too, when the lights are off and he wants me to lie down with him for a minute. He tells me the greatest stuff then, and also we can sometimes talk about the bad parts of the day when he was sad, mad, etc. We can talk about it when we are both feeling mellow, and usually we both learn something.

Good luck, Andrea. I'm sure you are doing a great job.

1/09/2006 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger Andrea Wright said...

Thanks all for your comments and helpful hints. I guess part of it is just getting a thick skin, parenting isn't for the faint of heart. I know she loves me and at the end of the day I know I'm doing my best.

I love bedtime chats, I should employ them more often, thanks for the reminders. Anne, you're a wise woman!

Thank you all for your kind support!

1/09/2006 10:17:00 PM  

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