Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My biggest fear

I think my single biggest fear, is screwing up the lives of my children.

I worry almost constantly about this, because I know the mistakes I've made already and they scare me.

I'm a big time yeller. They are both to the age where the hormones are starting to kick up and the "I'm not listening" bug has infected them both. I'm having a very hard time sometimes, not yelling in order to be heard or to get them to just listen to me.

I've been told by several people that "yelling does no good" - but they fail to offer me any other alternative. Honestly, there are times within the past year or so, that I feel I'm a horrible parent. My son has ADHD and my daughter is a drama queen. When I say that, I don't say it with a hurtful tone at all.. it's just a fact.

Regardless - the cycle I've noticed myself in is: I tell my kids to do something and they ignore me. I ask again, they ignore me again. I wind up yelling, they wind up back talking, I wind up yelling even MORE, and then they finally do what I've asked them to do in the first place.

I'm really feeling like a nag who can't talk in a normal tone of voice.

One day the kids were fighting amongst themselves ALL day. I'd finally hit my breaking point, so instead of my usual screaming at them to STOP IT - I gave them each a sheet of notebook paper and a pencil. I sat them both down at the dining room table and told them they had to write one nice thing about everyone in our family and then write one thing they wished that person would change about themselves. They had to do this for each other, myself and my husband and lastly, themselves.

What my daughter wrote, struck me:

Mom - Mom fixes me food. I wish she'd quit yelling.

I thought... wow. The one nice thing about me is I fix food? I wasn't sure what to think about that..... anyway, here's what she wrote about her brother:

Brother - He makes me laugh, but I wish he'd stop yelling at mom.

Now, the last thing on this earth that I want to do, is produce a childhood that leaves my children broken individuals. I realize a lot of their behavior comes with the age, etc.... but I just wish sometimes that I knew how to cope better. I didn't have a very good model and I sure as hell don't want to go down that road. My mom also, yelled a lot. My dad beat, my mom yelled. I don't want to be like either of them.

I've tried making reward charts for doing what you're asked the first time, completing chores, etc... I've tried paying for helping out around the house.... I've tried the, "wait till your father gets home" bit.. which by the way, I particularly hate because I remember that causing me major unrest when I was a kid.

Seeing certain patterns surface from my own upbringing, makes me scared of what I'm capable of. Let me clarify - I sometimes get so upset that my children aren't listening to me that I can actually feel the anger swell inside of me. My scalp will tingle and I'm betting that if I had a blood pressure cuff on my arm at that moment, my BP would be through the roof. That scares the hell out of me. It's normally then, that I have to distance myself and go to my bedroom and take five. It still doesn't change the fact, that I feel so much anger.... that's what I want to get a hold on....

I don't ever remember being told that I was loved as a child, by either of them - and I know it hasn't happened since I've been an adult, either.

At least my children will grow up knowing that their father and I loved them dearly.


Deege said...

I think every parent lives with this fear. At least in our gen, I don't know what previous gens thought?!?

I just try to not make the same mistakes, with varying success. I guess that's all we really can do!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with deege..all parents make mistakes..learn from them and grow..you do the best you can with what your equipped with

Mushy said...

Sounds to me like history will not be repeating itself through you two! Great.

BPD in OKC said...

My biggest fear is also screwing up my future children. I don't have kids yet, but I'm really afraid that when I do, I'll mess them up like my abusive father messed me up

Tory said...

It sounds like you're far from realizing your biggest fear. Your children seem secure and you make an effort everyday to make sure they know you love them both.
All parents have these fears, especially when you never had a role model. With me, I was terrified when I had my kids. I didn't know how to parent, but the one thing I did know was that if my mother did it, I would not. I just worked the opposite of what my upbringing was. You know by instinct what not to do, don't you? We all do, and we just have to feel our way along.
One thing that helped me, was to ask older people who had already parented, for advise. Then I would think about it and decided if I would take that advise.
Good Luck, and it will be alright, I promise you.
Take care

The Blogger Exposed said...

Oh, wow. Does this post strike a chord with me. In fact, I'm too exhausted b/c of a three hour tantrum my 5 year old put on tonight to expand further.

Barry said...

Well, I still fear I screwed up my kids and they are grown. It sounds like you are on the right track - but don't take the fixes food thing like something bad - maybe she was hungry at the time:)

Karen ^..^ said...

I am a yeller too. I worry the same things every single day of my life. One thing we have to keep in mind is that our kids have absolutely no frame of reference for what we went through as kids, so they cannot possibly feel gratitude for thier situation. We are the only ones who know that their situation is far better than ours was.

I try to keep that in mind while seething at how ungrateful and self absorbed they can be at times. They arent... They are just being normal kids. Something I was not allowed to be as a kid.

It sounds as if you are doing a beautiful job.

So you are a yeller! Oh well. My daughter hates the fact that I yell. But unfortunately that is not enough to stop doing it. It isn't abuse, I am not yelling horrible things at them, I am just yelling. Not beating, not verbally abusing, just yelling. We could be perfect (Like everyone else...?) but then we wouldn't be human. Now that would be damaging and disturbing.

sueke said...

I too fear screwing up my child. I think this is normal except for me I am driven to obessessive anxiety about every move I make. I think the abuse i experienced as a child makes me extra sensitive to my child's sometimes not so favorable descriptions and interpretations of my actions. I think i over identify with his feelings assuming that he feels as devastated as I did. However he is not being emotionally physically and sexually abused and i try to remind myself of this. However it hurts to know that mental illness is noticed by him. Mommy why are you so hard to wake up? Why are you so "cranky"? Why are you happy like the moms at my school?