I Know It's Not About Me, But Sometimes It Just Is
"If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't No One Happy!"
Preston had another (I get almost giddy that I get to use the word - another) great day yesterday and spent the rest of his waking hours playing with Bentley. With his natural tendency to be un-self-aware, it got a little rough at times, but I was pleased with the interaction (Preston has been slightly hostile to the younger brother that likes to play with the bigger brother's way cool toys). Preston was very loving, pleasant to be around and actually followed through as I made a very concerted effort to make eye-contact with him when making a request. When he starts to mellow out and be pleasant and manageable, I start thinking about what has been going on that helps facilitate the change in his behavior. I've had this thought before but for some reason this morning, the light bulb went on above my brain - IT'S ALL ABOUT ME. I have been calm, patient, loving and workable. That's it. Because I've been in a good place, he has been in a good place.
Kids feel safe when they know the parents are in control. In this case - me. Even when he is having a rough day (school, friends, having eaten something with colors in it), time-outs and discipline go so much smoother if I've got my game face on and am emotionless and appear (fake it till you make it) unaffected. Part of the Love and Logic thinking is that the parents always take really good care of themselves in front of the kids; doing what you need to do to stay calm, patient and loving is integral. You really don't have control over anything else but yourself - and that can make giant waves. Take some time to figure out what you need in your life to help you be more balanced and level-headed - does your diet need tweaking? Do you need more sleep? Would journal writing ( and/or mapping/bridging) help? Monthly massages? A night out where you don't have to cook? Whatever it is, make the necessary changes. Being a parent is the toughest job you will ever have (I don't care what anybody else says - it just plain is) and you've got to take care of you in order to be able to care of those around you. Especially those tiny little minds that are soaking in everything you do and say and feel (yes, our energy can say a lot about us) like a sponge. Take care of yourself a little better and I think you will see some small and great changes in your home.
As a blended family with a yours, mine and ours; parenting gets a little tricky. Preston will often times be very resistant to my husband. I've had my therapist, books and a random person at the park note that it is the best practice of step-parent to play a 'consultant' role and stay out of parenting/disciplining the step-child. There will always be a different bond between that of a blood parent to their child vs. step-parent to step-child. There is also a level of trust and love that takes time (and what the length of time is will differ for every child) to build between these new people that just appeared out of nowhere that are now living under the same roof and we're all of a sudden a 'family.' My step-son has been very accepting of the whole situation from the get-go; that's his personality (I got really lucky on that one), but it's been tough for Preston and that is largely due to his personality (not to mention that kids with ADHD struggle with transition).
My therapist made a key distinction for me recently regarding enforcing vs. parenting. My husband, by nature of his work, is very busy and in an out regularly. That leaves me here as the person in charge fairly consistently. As the 'consultant' parent to my step-son, I can enforce the rules of the home but leave parenting issues to my husband to address. This applies also to my husband and Preston. My husband asked me at one point that without playing a 'parenting role' how does he be a fatherly figure to Preston? Simple: by example. I learned more from my parent's examples and little notes of encouragement on my bed than I did from any lecture or major discipline. They're watching us people. Make it count.
What do you do to take care of you?