Saturday, January 29, 2011

Why Did I Have Children?

I shouldn't be down here in the office, in the basement, on the computer. I gave the kids a warning and then proceeded to sort 10 days worth of dirty laundry. When I finished, the warning had to turn into punishment inducement.

Sometimes, I think I'm too easy on my kids.

They tend to get away with things. I let them. I let them fudge on chores, homework, personal hygiene. I get too tired to fight it. It's beyond frustrating at times. The entitlement they feel about video games, TV, books, friends, art... it's psychotic, really. But who lets them indulge? Hmmm?

I'm down here because I have determined not to yell and scream anymore. I had to remove myself from the situation. I know they are still upstairs NOT doing what they are supposed to be doing. I know I'm enabling them AGAIN. But I had to leave the scene of the potential crime.

I know I'm not alone. Every household deals with children who won't obey, won't do chores, refuses to help, etc. Some homes have it better than others, though. I know this because I've seen it. What's the difference, eh? What makes some better than others? I've had time to think about this and I've decided that it's the parents. Yeah, some children are inherently a bit more challenging than others, but for the most part, it's parenting. It's attitude. It's the ability to be firm, kind, and respectful. But firm. Without yelling/screaming. I know this because I've seen parenting like this. It exists, dear reader. It does. And their children aren't perfect, but they are respectful, obedient, and kind.

My greatest fears in life aren't for myself. They are for my children. I worry that they will turn out as the "boils on the butt of society" (Steel Magnolias, anyone?) and will lose themselves in selfishness. All I want for them is to turn out honest, kind, good-hearted, and hard workers. I want to see them succeed. I want them to want to succeed.

On days like today, though, I find myself floundering. "What's the point?" I ask myself. They won't listen; they don't care. Maybe I should just let them play all day; forget the chores. Blah!

Yeah, that won't do. Doesn't make sense. I need to find a quote.

Hold on....

Okay, here we go:
...(M)ay I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you. He knows that your giving birth to a child does not immediately propel you into the circle of the omniscient. If you and your husband will strive to love God and live the gospel yourselves; if you will plead for that guidance and comfort of the Holy Spirit promised to the faithful; if you will go to the temple to both make and claim the promises of the most sacred covenants a woman or man can make in this world; if you will show others, including your children, the same caring, compassionate, forgiving heart you want heaven to show you; if you try your best to be the best parent you can be, you will have done all that a human being can do and all that God expects you to do.
~Elder Jeffery R. Holland (April 1997 General Conference)

That's better. I feel better. I'm breathing, I'm refocusing.

Off to supervise chores. With conviction this time!


Judi said...

Cheryl...welcome to motherhood.
I had the same fight within myself for years with both boys. I did good when they were young, but as the grew older and life became busier with work, sports, homework, girlfriends, became a true battle.
I feared for #1 as he left on his mission. Did I teach him enough? Did he know how to make a bed, clean his room, do the dishes, cook, iron a white shirt, do laundry, etc. The answer to some of those questions was No....a big fat No.
However, the day of his farewell with over 200 of his closest friends, not including ward members, I realized that he had learned what was most important of all. To love people. To be a friend. To care about others.
As he stood at the pulpit and gave his farewell address I realized that he was ready and he had learned "the most important things".
Now it is one year later (-4 weeks) and he has learned to cook, clean, do laundry, iron his shirts, clean the bathroom, and all those other things that I didn't teach him, or didn't teach him well enough.
He is a hard worker and does good in school, and I know that he will succeed in life, because he already is.
What I'm trying to tell you are teaching your children. They see you study, read, pray, bear your testimony, love and care for them and other people. You are teaching them the most important things.
The rest will come. Don't be so hard on yourself...or them.
Yes, our children do need to learn responsibility and have chores, etc..but they get it, they know...they are just kids and don't want to do it.
Sit down with them and make a job chart and rewards for them. The reward could be an extra 15 min of video game playing if they make their bed everyday for the week, etc. Make it some thing that they agree to as well...and then hold them accountable.
But don't worry! You're doing great!

Judi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
michelle said...

Perfect quote.

I have to keep hoping that it is as much about not giving up and the process of learning together and trying and trying again than parenting perfection or some magical plan that *finally* works. I think a lot of times we aim for ends rather than focus on the process e.g., Clean house rather than time together working on the house. Nurturing is a process, not an event.

I think part of what is hardest for me about parenting is that I'm still growing up too, alongside them, and I want to be perfect for them. But I've decided that ain't the program.

So we just keep doing our best. Keep at it.

And three months and counting. Spring will help! ;)

Alison Wonderland said...

I'm right there with you baby. We're moms, it's what we do.

The United Statements of Merica said...

Hey Cheryl!
I could have sworn I wrote this post.
When we moved into our house last year, we found a 16 cassette program called "let's fix the kids". In the storage room.. Well needless to say it caught our attention. Especially since the previous owners are Jewish and there was a picture of the salt lake temple on the cover. Turns out the program is by an lds guy named James J Jones. We listened to the tapes and realized it was Devine intervention:) AMAZING!! We searched high and low and finally found the program on cd. Basically, he covers so much! He gives you the tools to help your kids be responsible. He's a family psychologist so he covers all of that stuff too and with like 14 hours of therapy, you're good to go.. I just finished listing to it again and I have to say that it has revolutionized the relationships in our home and Lauren particularly is becoming so autonomous.. I am so glad I found it. It's like $300 so I'll try and burn you some disks in the next couple of weeks and send them.