Friday, December 28, 2007

Control Issues??

Okay, this is what I am pondering.

I have a son who is at times VERY adamant about what he will and will not do/allow. For instance, lately he doesn't like singing. My singing, radio playing with songs on it, Jim singing, the family singing etc. It's been about three weeks now of "Mommy can't sing!" Accompanied by plaintive crying and shaking his hands in the air. Talking he asks. Mommy talking?

So...I may start to sing, but I often end up not singing. OR I may start with some jolly Christmas music being sung, but switch to instrumental music.

He is not a boy very tolerant of change...it can take time to get him to try new things (aka underwear or new pajamas or _______) He had a fit on Tuesday at mom's when I made him wear PINK MIckey Mouse Pullups! How dare mommy!!!!!!! And at first I said, okay buddy you don't need to put them on now. but eventually I got him calmed down enough to try and with some distraction from Oma we got them on. But the next day he was very adamant NO MICKEY MOUSE PULLUPS!

My giving way to him is often commented on as "I'm letting him run the house" and "I'd better watch it or he'll end up running me". (or thinking he's in charge etc). I find those statements bothersome and they make me wonder if I am parenting him well. They make me think.

I have to admit. I dislike conflict hugely. I will go out of my way to avoid it. I just don't like it. So giving way to my boy in someways fits well with this. And times when I KNOW I'm giving way simply because I'm not up to the fight about it.

BUT at the same time I hesitate to say that's why I say you know what.... we don't have to do whatever is causing you distress.

For instance... my hubbie does not like country and western music. He will occasionally tolerate it, but he doesn't like it. So I indulge in my Country and Western music desires when he is not home. I "give way" to my hubby in this. There are things I don't like...for example scary movies. Jim won't watch them when I'm home and awake. He "gives way" to me in this. Doesn't mean we don't occasionally say...NO just for a minute listen to this...isn't this song GOOD? or Hold on hun just this part is scary, you can open your eyes now.

I wonder...how is my giving way to my boy any different then what Jim and I do for each other? There are times when I"m not ready for change, so Jim gives me time, and vice versa...and there are times when we push each other a bit. So how should it be different with Justin. Should I say...no I want this simply because I (as the parent) want it and if you (as the child) don't like it too bad?

Mixed in with all this is CJ Maheney teachings. Here's where you can to find his teachings. In most particular his ones on the idol factory. Finding the idols in our lives.... from our very own selfishness...which tends to cause most of the conflicts between us, to other idols...that being anything which is more important to us than God. So...am I helping Justin to be selfish when I say okay, you don't like, we don't do it. OR am I being selfish if I insist on something, or don't insist on something because it's easier one way or the other?

If my desire is to raise up a boy of good character who loves God (not that I can control his love of God, but I can hopefully help him see God more clearly so that he in turn will want to love God deeply), how do I do that?

How does one figure out the lines in all of this?

8 comments:

Susan <> said...

Hi there,
Just wanted to drop in and say hi and that I receive your posts via RSS and I really enjoy them!

I think all of us, our children included, can be adamant and strong willed. The upside of this trait is that one might stand for truth and righteousness and once their heart is set on the path of God's ways, that they will not falter. But I think an important aspect of that is that we need to ensure that our children are able to control themselves- their thoughts, desires and actions and that they know when and where to be strong willed and that they also know when they are under authority and need to submit.

I do have two children who were very much like you described- my eldest daughter in particular. During our days, I would often plant little seeds-I'd gently and indirectly let them know that Dad and Mum ARE accountable for them, are responsible for them and that God has given us authority over them. I told them this so it would never be questionable. I talked to them about authority- how in some way each and every one of us is under the authority of someone...so we'd better start to learn the art of submission- correct, biblical submission ;)

I wanted to develop this character trait so that it would bloom into godly character, not be something ugly and self serving.

I find the early years of a child's life to be essential for this. As they get older, there is a lot more room or opportunity for a display of grace and of 'give and take' type of way.

I can respect my husband's ways and desires- he is my husband!
My husband respects my ways and desires- I am his wife! But my child is not my equal in age, wisdom, maturity, knowledge or life experience. There may be times when it is acceptable for me to to give way, but I have made it known that I do so because I chose to- not because she/he has cajoled or manipulated me into it. (Not saying your ds is anything like that- I don't know him- but I do know my own children ;)) I might say to the child that I can listen to my music, it is my home and I have responsibility, but that I choose in this instance, to prefer the child's preference over my own. Other times, I might say that I would like to listen to my music and it is good for the child to learn to accept things which she/he cannot change. That's a life lesson- that's homeschooling! To accept the things we cannot change and have the courage an strength to do what is needed when change is needed.

We all need to learn to prefer one another- but if one is only ever the recipient of this preferring then how is one to learn how to be the one who does the preferring? (Does any of that make sense?)


It is different because I am not responsible for teaching my husband the many and various character traits and behaviour. That's why it's different. I am not my husband's teacher but I am required to teach my child/ren. Sometimes directly and other times, indirectly- but always by example.

And last but by no means, least, the most important aspect is prayer and the study of God's word (which I see you do).

If any of this resonates with you, please take any meat and spit out the bones...I don't have it all together...I'm a pilgrim on the same path as you. :)

Blessings,
Susan
http://kerugma.net/blog

Susan <> said...

Doh! me again. I hit submit before I proof read.

The other thing I wanted to add is that I have found it helpful to learn how God parents us.

Does He let me have my own way? Does He discipline me? If so, how? Does He teach me lessons? If so, how?

In learning how God parents me (coz I'm His child) I have learned a lot about how I can parent my children. It's an interesting concept eh?

Now, I'm off...

jen elslager said...

Susan, ditto.

Annette, I would expect that those who are telling you to be careful are doing so because they care about both Justin and you. What they say is true -- he could easily end up thinking he can get his way about anything just by demanding it. And that wouldn't be good for anyone involved. What are Jim's thoughts on the matter?

You're not a bad parent. Clearly, you love Justin to pieces. But sometimes our job of loving our children is really tough in that we have to deal with making them unhappy in order to instill good character.

Another thought -- you say you go out of your way to avoid conflict. This is probably testing for your character as well. We cannot get through this life without conflict, and I'm sure God will teach you the way to handle it in this situation. It's not easy, but it is necessary.

Like Susan said, I'm also just another pilgrim who doesn't have it all together. My comments here are said in love. :)

Annette said...

Susan
Thank you for advising. :) Means much. It helps me to set my thoughts better. To realize, that as much as I dislike conflict, I would dislike my boy child learning things that he aught not because of my neglect. That it is more important to teach my boy than to do what is always easy. :)

Overall he is a good child, tries hard, but he is so "set" on somethings that it's hard to always know what is what. Is it disobedience or wilfulness or need?

I can get better at telling him that he does need to listen to mommy and daddy simply because we say so. And that it is part of learning how to be an obedient child of God. I really like this "That's a life lesson- that's homeschooling! To accept the things we cannot change and have the courage and strength to do what is needed when change is needed."

Thank you for your graciousness in giving me some input. :)

Annette said...

Jen
Jim and I actually did talk about this abit....after I posted. He knows that I need time to get my thoughts together when I'm thinking about stuff and he's good to let me do that.

His response was to remind me that one of the pivotal differences in how we relate to each other is that generally Jim and I know how to do the give and take in a relationship (for the most part though we are by no means perfect in this).

And our boy child is still in the learning process. So just acceding to every whim is not good for him (or us in the long run). Not that I accede to his every whim...that would be very stupid and would make for a spoiled brat which I have no desire to raise.

So it's a process to learn how and when to discipline and the reasoning behind it, or even if things are a discipline issue at all. I sometimes feel it's a careful line....so as another friend of mine who privately wrote me said.... teaches one to depend on God's grace all the more. :)

Stan said...

I'm the "I hate conflict" type, too. But I also see the danger in giving in at all times to my kids. (To be fair, "saw" the danger -- they're all grown up.)

The trick for me was learning what was important and what was not, what was appropriate and what was not. There were things they didn't want to do that I had to make them do because they were important. And there were responses they had when they didn't like something that I had to discipline them for because their responses were not appropriate.

It's not an easy thing to figure out. Perhaps he doesn't have to wear Mickey Mouse pullups. (I would say, "What were you thinking???" :).) On the other hand, he certainly needs to learn to be kind to others when they do things like sing around him and he doesn't like it.

It's not an easy task, being a parent. Sometimes you have to give up what you like, and that's not fun. Sometimes you have to be firm and even discipline, and that's not fun. One son of mine really warmed my heart one day in his teen years when he came to me and said, "Dad, I'm not questioning that I have to do what you told me; I just wanted to ask why you want me to do it." He had learned the proper response.

Annette said...

Hi Stan
I have to admit to something here. The pink pullups were a stop gap measure. It had been a crazy weekend with one after another that needed attending.
I forgot to bring a change of clothing and diaper for the lad! I was SO fortunate that my SIL had an old pullup available. It was pink. It was new. NOT a good scene for a little boy who was full up of change and busyness in his life.

Normally pink pullups are not the thing that I would do to a wee lad. :)

Thank you for stopping by. There is hope for me and my not wanting conflict ways. :)

Susan <> said...

Oh Annette,
What lovely teachable spirit you have.

God bless,
Susan