That first year of life with your child, you are at their whim. You get no say for the most part and do for them what they need. As they get older (like the day after their 1st birthday) the relationship changes and they’d like you to continue to do for them all the things. You start to say no more often, they start to scream, there might be spanking involved at some point and then they are tweens. That is something else entirely. They haven’t even hit teenagerland yet.
I’ve noticed that I will take a lot of crap until I won’t. Once I won’t, that’s it. I listen longer than I should to the ranting and let them get away with a lot. Between Jason and I, if you had to pick the heavy, Jason would be it. The kids don’t really talk back to him and I think why is a combination of things. He’s rarely here (comparatively), he’s got the authoritative male voice, he’s old school, etc. Mom’s voice just becomes background noise at some point. I also try to listen for more reasons. Are they upset about something else and it’s just coming out loud? I like to get to the root cause and teach in the moment if possible. That’s not old-school. Good parenting seems to be a combination of both, in my opinion.
In the thick of things, day to day stresses, I believe we put up with a level of disrespect. It’s different for everyone, but we aren’t machines and we get worn down by the constant bickering, whining, and neediness of children. It ebbs and flows through phases and ages. Our relationship with our child also has a lot to do with the level of disrespect you will accept and that relationship is constantly changing as they grow. As I’ve grown I’ve begun to stand up for myself a little more. It’s sad to me to think that we have to defend ourselves against our children, but boundaries need to be set for all relationships. I’ve actually said out loud lately, “you cannot talk to me like that”. I’m sad to say that because I love my children and would hope that they would regard me with the respect I deserve simply because I gave them life and we do our best to take care of them and give them a good childhood. Did I mention I’m also too trusting? ;-)
Henry has that idolization, but Noah? He thinks he’s grown. He’s realizing that he doesn’t HAVE to do anything. I’m realizing that I can’t MAKE him do anything. There’s just keeping the relationship healthy, giving good consequences and trying to teach him to make good choices. For Nora, it’s an entirely different relationship. She’s really angry and feels persecuted, for example, because she has to clean her room. Such drama that one! I’ve been letting them talk back to me, ignoring their rants, but have realized that that is not okay. It’s important that they treat me better. Not just because I’m their mother, but because it effects everything. It effects their school life and how they interact with teachers. It effects their sense of security. It effects their future relationships. It effects our household and the peace I’d like to have and we all deserve.
I also noticed that the kids were coming and going in and out of our bedroom. That was an outward expression of their level of respect for us. I put a stop to that. I kicked the dog out too (his crate) because that seemed to make our room a common area for them. That began a good precedent. I’ve begun to notice disrespect instead of ignore rude behavior towards me and others in the house. Rude behavior might include screaming at me or calling each other names. I deal with that first, now. Anything you change for yourself becomes a ripple effect for those around you and I think that’s what is happening here and I’m glad. I’ve also started rereading Boundaries with Kids by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It’s a christian book, but still very good as is their whole Boundaries series. Things have begun to calm down around here. I was reading something about teenagers and disrespect and one thing jumped out at me. Teenagers are territorial. They begin to leave their crap everywhere to assert dominance. Ha! I’ve started a plan with Nora and her room. She doesn’t respect property, her own or anybody else’s. I’ve started to demand and trying to reward her for taking care of her stuff. I took most of her toys and stuff out of her room, giving her a small amount of things to take care of and if she can, she’ll get her stuff back as well as be able to pick out some new sheets, curtains, paint color possibly. It’s slow going, but I think she is getting there. Respect encompasses a lot more than just how we speak to one another.
With us being a step family and ongoing issues with the kid’s father, life is rocky, loud and hard at times, but I love it. We continue to grow and change. We learn what works and what doesn’t and I know the kids benefit from our consistency and stability. That foundation is most important. I don’t feel yet that there is ever a point that you can’t make different choices. The kids aren’t ruined because I’ve been a doormat. They won’t be perfect now because we speak to them differently, but our household will be a little bit healthier, hopefully more peaceful and we’ve all learned a thing or two.