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But I need you!

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Tonight, I sit here just resting from the quiet and the stress of the week with my #2 granddaughter.  I get a few days off before I get my grandson, so I will be working on VBS and writing, writing, writing.  This week I did not get any writing done at all.  I did more the week I had the Mother-in-law and the #1 granddaughter at the same time.   I adore my #2 (my Rissa Roo).  She is, however, extremely needy.  She is #2 of 4, and often gets the short end of the stick.  Since the advent of her 2 yo sister, she has taken up baby talk.  This is one of many annoying habits, but it is one that compares to Chinese water torture nails on a chalk board.

I have tried many tactics to eliminate this habit (at least around me), but to no avail.  We did make progress this week, but it got to the point where I had to turn away from her and tell her she could choose to talk baby talk somewhere else or choose to play with Grandma.  The point was to show her that her choices are her choices – a habit if you will - and she has the ability, at 8, to make better ones.  We had a few hour long sessions with tears and more, but in the end, she was doing much better.  The thing is that this child is so needy.  She is also bossy.  Along with that and some other quirks she has picked up as a bid to get attention (unconsciously), something has gone wrong.

So what? you may say.  The point here is that the child is desperate for attention.  However, the things she does to get attention work against her bringing negative attention instead of good attention.  Of course, all children will choose negative attention over no attention.  In my little Rissa Roo’s case, I have to worry about her because the attention getting behaviors are so bad and so hard to take, even for her grandma who adores her!  I want to help her learn how to 1) entertain herself, 2) accept that she doesn’t need attention 24/7 (it’s never enough) and 3) learn that the negative behaviors are choices that do not work, and so teach her better choices.  She also talks a blue streak and needs to learn that it’s ok to be quiet sometimes, but that’s another story and may have help from her ADHD. :D

Horizontal communication, that between us and others cannot happen in this kind of environment.  It may take an 8 year old a while to understand, but I know adults who have this issue as well.  They are overly needy and seek to have that need filled in ways that push others away instead of drawing them.  Sometimes, these behaviors are habits, learned early and left over from childhood.  Some of us outgrow these behaviors as we grow.  Others, either because they do not see them or because they don’t know any better, continue in behaviors that effectively cut off their ability to truly communicate with others and thus get their attention needs met.

Vertical communication, that between us and God, can look like this at times too.  We may not see it as ‘attention getting behavior’ (and neither does the child or the adult in the above paragraphs) but it works the same.  Let’s say God does something for you.  You say thank you (sometimes), but not much time lapses before you want something else.  Some people get upset if God doesn’t do what they want in the time they want, forgetting all that God has already done for them.  It’s like God has to prove His love over, and over, and over, and over.  Jesus death on the cross is proof enough, and if we get nothing else, it’s more than we deserve.  Yet we can act like a young child who loves mommy when she’s happy, but tells mommy she’s a ‘bad’ mommy when angry.

The Israelites displayed this behavior, and I believe God used their stories to show us how we do this too–so no judging allowed.  God would do miraculous things for them and as soon as life got a little tough, they would turn away from Him or whine because they are unhappy with the now.  They forgot the big things God did!  We may wonder how they could march across a sea/river on dry land, among other miracles, and ever gripe to God again, but they did.  And so do we if we do not watch out.  I sometimes wonder if it breaks God’s heart as much as it breaks this Grandma’s to see a child hurting and doing all the wrong things to deal with it.  I’m sure this is something He sees way more than I do:  People looking for love in all the wrong places. . . :(

Do you have attention getting habits that interfere with your horizontal and vertical communication?  How do you keep a grateful heart, appreciating what you get, while not griping when things don’t go that well?  Anyone have advice for teaching this to an 8 year old?  I’d love to hear what you have to say about this topic.  

BTW–the other kids have wrong behaviors too, but they are just a bit easier to deal with and more amenable to correction.  AND I l♥ve my Rissa Roo no matter what she does or doesn’t do.  :D

Ten ways to Love: Yeah, but…

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Our 5th installment of Ten ways to love is to:  Answer without arguing. 

Proverbs 17:1  Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife.  (KJV)

The Message puts it this way:  1 A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.

 

Argument

Argument (Photo credit: andrewmalone)

Anyone who has ever lived with an argumentative person knows exactly how true that statement is.   Have you ever known someone who couldn’t just give a simple answer?  They always have a “yeah, but…” or some other reply explaining why they are ‘special’ and your premise is wrong.  I think all of us answer with an argument at times, but the person who consistently does this is not saying, “I love you.”  They might be saying, “I’m better than you” or “I know better than you”, but not “I love you.”   I find that many of those who make this a consistent habit have no clue what they do to others.  In their mind, they really are special, know better, or simply want to make sense of the question.

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a b...

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a bird bath in Austin, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you help someone who has no clue?         I don’t know.  That’s a rhetorical question :)  If you have the answer, let me know!

 

Since we already know we can’t help others, we can only look at ourselves.  Do we answer with an argument or do we listen and answer without arguing?  Human beings have this unique ability.  It’s called justification.  AND–it works best when pointed at our own behavior.  I of course, never have an issue with this. . . . . ;]  but just in case someone out there does. . . .

 

Anyway, back to the topic.

I have way too many people a person in my life who cannot simply answer a question without argument, and it drives me to distraction at times.  I call her on it, but she comes back with more argument.  This leads to more drama, which leads to anything but a feeling of ‘love’.   Responses often contain “Yeah, but”, “Well, I”, “You don’t”, and “I didn’t mean to” to name a few.   I have to admit I don’t always respond well to this.  Frustration probably tops the list of emotions that pop up.  How do you communicate with someone who doesn’t really hear you?  Instead of hearing what’s said, the arguer hears something they must take exception to.  I guess it’s a form of defensiveness.  I don’t know.  I just know neither party winds up feeling very good afterwards.  Neither person feels very loved or listened to either.

 

A very simplistic example of this:  

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “But, I’m not tired!”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “I can’t sleep if I’m not tired.”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “Well, sissy doesn’t have to go to bed now.”

Adult:  “Go to bed.”   Child:  “Can I have a drink.”

and so on.        Can anyone say distraction technique?

The major theme in this scenario is:   “I don’t have to do what you tell me because…..”

 

Pride.  Is pride at the base of the argument.  I think I could argue that it is (tongue in cheek).   Pride and love, real love, do not go together.  In fact, they are diametrically opposed, and offering argument instead of answers says, “I don’t have to” or “I know better” or, well, you get the point.

 

Now for the Vertical

Maybe you never argue instead of answering others.   But how about God?   Do you question Him when He asks you to do something?  Do you have some reason why the commands (already given in the Bible) are for someone else and not you?  After all, you’re not very good at that, or you don’t have time for that, or ….    I don’t think we mean to argue with God, but too often, we do.  We can show Him love by obeying Him without arguing.

 

Sometimes, whether vertical or horizontal, it takes a lot of hard knocks time and maturity to learn how to answer without arguing.

 

What do you think?   Do you know someone like this, and if so, how do you deal with it?  Have you changed this about yourself?  Any tips for doing so?  My posts are often quests, because I don’t know it all.  I’m always interested in how others deal with various aspects of communication, so I hope you’ll share if you have something to say. :)

 

 

Um, “Happy” Mother’s Day

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Slippery Slope

Slippery Slope (Photo credit: Paul Graham Raven)

As Mother’s Day approaches, I and I suspect most mothers, goes through the annual guilt-fest hearing about the perfect mom from every corner.  Then on the day, many preachers use the Proverbs 31 woman to (unintentionally) club already guilt-filled Moms to death as they seldom see themselves that way.  Today, I started down the slippery slope.  I am certainly not a traditional mom, although I did all the day to day cooking until my oldest graduated and I went back to school.  The list of my ‘failures’ is long.  I am a human after all.  However, after asking my friend to pray for me that I would not go down this path, God began to speak to me.

 

♥I♥mommy♥♥I♥mommy♥

♥I♥mommy♥♥I♥mommy♥

The dialogue went something like this:

guilt, google style

guilt, google style (Photo credit: debaird™)

Me:  “I can’t meet the standard of “the” mom I keep hearing about.  She does everything and everyone depends on her to keep their life going.”

God:  “What about all the reading you did to your children?”

Me:  “Well, yeah, I did that, but…”

God:  “What about all those trips where you tirelessly entertained and sang to fussy children?  What about all those questions you answered so patiently (well mostly)?”

Me:  “Well, yeah, I did that, but they don’t even remember it!”

God:  “Yes they do.  Somewhere inside them is that memory as an attachment to you.  What about how often you worked with them in their school work and tried to help them learn when it was difficult?”

Me:  “Well, um,….”

God:  “What about all that love you lavished on your children?  What about all the fun you brought to their daily life?  What about how you took care of their needs?  What about how you taught them about Me?”

Me:  “Oh, well, I guess when you look at it that way, I had more good than bad.”

God: “Exactly!  I gave you to your children as Mom.  I gave you the gifts you used to nurture them.  I did not make you like everyone else, and I really don’t like hearing you bash yourself like that.  Neither do your children.  It’s time to let it go and accept yourself as you are.  Satan magnifies your faults in order to keep you from being the Mom I called you to be. . . .  Remember, Princess, I created you, and I love everything I put into you.  Your kids appreciate you too.  Now it’s your turn.”

♥I♥mommy♥♥I♥mommy♥♥I♥mommy♥

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A pastor once preached the Proverbs 31 passage, but went beyond the traditional view.  He applied the principles so that people who didn’t fit the traditional pattern (and those who did) could see themselves in this woman.  In a discussion with my family after church, (I hadn’t really gotten it yet) my husband said, “I can’t believe you don’t see yourself in that!”  My husband and children proceeded to tell me how they saw that in me.  What a wonderful gift.

Then a few months ago, I was talking to my daughter, and she said, “You are a great mom!”   The lightbulb went off.   Oh!  Just because I have flaws and messed up some things doesn’t mean I’m not a good mom!  The flaws do not negate my parenting.  One or two points or events do not negate the good mom status.  Even those events are often viewed through my lens of “I wish I had done….”

♥I♥mommy♥♥I♥mommy♥♥I♥mommy♥

So, I choose to look at my job as a whole and no longer pick it apart with enemy-enduced guilt.  If you struggle with this or have a mom that does, I hope you can stop guilting yourself and accept yourself as you are — your kids do! (Well most do.)

Fathers can fall victim to this ‘viewing life through guilt-colored glasses’ as well as Moms and those who are neither.  Why is it we tend to remember bad things more than the good?  Why do we drag ourselves down by looking at the negatives instead of rejoicing in the positives?

♥I♥mommy♥♥I♥mommy♥♥I♥mommy♥

What about you?  Do you ever struggle with this issue?  How do you deal with it?  Do you think your kids would agree with you or would they tell you you’re a great mom/dad?  Can you forgive yourself for any mistakes and go forward accepting yourself as God created you?  What characteristics do you think a “great mom” has?  It’s about more than who cooks/cleans/works outside the home/etc.

My mother made mistakes.  Of course she did.  BUT to me, she was the best mom ever, and I wouldn’t change one thing about her.  She has been gone for 7 years now, and I can’t wait to celebrate her mothering again at the great reunion.  I love you Marilyn Koser Masters with all my heart.  You are sadly missed.  See you in the morning :)

♥I♥mommy♥♥I♥mommy♥♥I♥mommy♥

Taking a Ride?

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No Guardrails

Today I drove down the road — thinking.  (Yes, thinking while driving is quite dangerous, but the thought police have not enacted a law against it as of yet.) Anyway, driving and thinking about the side of the road where there were no guardrails and quite a drop if I would happen to slip off the road for some reason.  I don’t like these kind of places.  I like guardrails to give me some kind of safety buffer from almost certain death.  That’s never happened to me before, (well, duh! Do I look dead?) but I fear it none-the-less.

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English: took this photo using my mobile, in J...

Image via Wikipedia

Guardrails

From there, my mind wandered to the guardrails, actual guardrails or a stand of trees or something else to stand between me and potential disaster.  They may not stop me, but they make me feel safer.

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Immovable Objects

Mahi-Par Mountain Pass in eastern Afghanistan.

Image via Wikipedia

From there, I thought, “Well, I guess I’d rather go off the road at a drop off (depending on how steep) than to hit an immovable object, such as a rock wall.  At high speeds, I’m guessing that’s pretty much a death sentence gonna hurt!  Going between the cuts in the hills, solid rock on both sides, might mean disaster for the unwary motorist. 

Huh?

This thought reminded me of parenting styles, and I began to go into analogies.  (I know — welcome to my world.)  Most agree with four styles of parenting.  Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive, and Uninvolved.

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No Guardrails

Permissive parenting is like driving with no guardrails.  Guardrails provide boundaries.  They say, “This far and no farther.”  Children need guardrails or boundaries to feel safe and to be safe.  They depend on parents to set these guardrails for them.  Yes, they will push against them and test them, but that’s part of the process too.  Permissive parents are often indulgent, with low expectations and rare discipline.  These are the ones who want to be their child’s friend.  Just like the road with no guardrail, the children often feel unsafe with no boundaries.

Guardrails

Authoritative Parenting is a somewhat democratic process.  The children have their guardrails or boundaries along with expectations of following them.  But, it’s not a ‘my way or the highway’ type of parenting.  Children ask questions and receive answers.  The children feel respected and loved and know exactly what the parents expect of them.

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Immovable Object

This correlates with Authoritarian Parenting.  The parents make strict rules with no room for failure to follow them.  Harsh discipline followsany infractions.  These are the ones who likely expect their children to obey because they were told to.  Children are not allowed to ask questions or negotiate.  They must obey.  This also leaves very little room for building relationships between parent and child.  A statement, attributed in some sources to Grant East, states that, “Rules without relationship breeds rebellion.”   Just as hitting an immovable object in a speeding car would probably lead to death, hitting an immovable parent brings about the death of relationship and often breeds rebellion.

ADDEND:  If you’ll notice in the comments below, a question engendered a new aspect to the immovable object.  ALL PARENTS NEED IMMOVABLE OBJECTS!   “Go play in the traffic.”  “Here drink this chlorox.” “Feel free to stay up all night and miss school in the morning if you’re too tired.”  “Sure watch that horror movie.  Every child should have nightmares.”  You get the picture.  In the case of the authoritative parent, all the rules are immovable.  Whether important or trivial, they are expected to be obeyed – PERIOD!  The child becomes frustrated by the extreme strictures and the inability to do anything about it other than rebel.  Bedtime at 8 is a fine rule for younger children, but it should not be inflexible.  Children should be able to negotiate some of the rules, and they should begin to earn autonomy in their decision making gradually as they grow.  In other words, rules should change with growth.  After all, at some point, they will have to make their own decisions without you.  I think Ann Marie Dwyer said it best, “A lot is said for allowing teens to have precursor adult decision making. They need the experience while parents can mitigate (but not eradicate) the consequences.”

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No lines, no edges, no shoulder, no guardrails

The last style of parenting, Uninvolved Parenting, is like driving down a road in which there are no guiding lines of any kind:  no lane lines, no clear edges, no shoulder, no guardrails, no guidance.

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An icon illustrating a parent and child

Image via Wikipedia

OUTCOMES: Just as a miss on the road can have differing severities based on where it happens, parenting styles bring about differing penalties as well.

Authoritarian/Immovable Object - The outcome here is children who obey (or rebel).  Unfortunately, these children struggle finding happiness, liking themselves, and getting along in the world — either because they need those strict boundaries and don’t get them or because they resent it and have problems with authority figures in their lives.

Authoritative/Guardrails -  This parenting style breeds children (and adults later) who are happy, Able to fend for themselves, and able to operate successfully in the world.

Permissive/No Guardrails - Children raised by these parents also have less happiness in their lives.  They also have trouble with authority figures (having had no example) and in regulating themselves. Without the guidance of parental pusing, these children will likely struggle with school work as well.

Uninvolved/No guides - This type of parenting produces the worst outcomes in children across the board.  They have competency, self-esteem and self-control issues that make life difficult for them.

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Questions to ponder:  What style parent are you?  What style did your parents use?  Did you have parents who gave you a ‘push/pull’ as they each used a different style?  If you have children, what style do you use?  Do you find yourself slipping into the style of your parents, despite best intentions?  Do you have any thoughts on how a child (now adult) would overcome the negative aspects of their raising? 

Profilskiss på en Kohlswabalk

Image via Wikipedia

Remember:

No one gets it right all the time.  We’re human and we kind of learn it as we go.

I hope you all enjoyed the ride!  Come again soon.

Source disclaimer:  The above information was crammed into my head during several college classes many moons ago.  No copyright infringement is intended.

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