Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Relationships: the value of obedience vs. congruence


The value of obedience vs healthy loving communication


Recently the value of obedience versus healthy loving communication has been firmly rooted in my thinking and thought processess surrounding the girls and my relationship.  Many in my life are convinced that children need to have this instant obedience to pretty much all adults and especially parents.  I have struggled with this line of thinking pretty much continuously for the past almost five years.  This is actually a continuous point of disagreement between Alex and I.  However, for the past couple months I have been focusing my energy on getting the girls to basically do what I tell them the first time I tell them.  This has brought about some incongruence in myself and in our relationship. After a battle tonight over a minor issue I realized that this is not working for us, again  I want to duscuss the idea that parents are smarter and do not make mistakes therefore children should do as they are told :)
I like to encourage the girls to think for themselves. This can be tedious and tiring in the day to day living.  For example tonight, Iz, was taking a bath and I told her there was enough water in the bath and she wanted more.  We had a big blowout and now a few hours after they have fallen asleep and I have talked with a friend and thought about it myself I came to the realization that I was putting the value of following my orders over the value of having a healthy relationship with her tonight again.  As an adult I attempt to stay away from telling others what to do and how to do it.  As an adult I find it very frustrating when others try to tell me what to do and how to do it, and I am constantly striving to encourage other adults to think for themselves and do what work for them.  At least this is what I tell myself...
 I find it very interesting how viewpoints can sway throughout parenting.  I didn't even realize this was an issue before I was a parent. Now it is something I wonder/worry with pretty much every day, sometimes more than once a day.  I really want to focus on having a healthy and strong relationship with my daughters and most of the time I am.  Then there are those days where I forget what I am attempting to do and I think that following orders and obeying me is what is most important.  Its all about love, love for yourself, love for your partner, the love for your children.  This is what I want to focus on love, in all aspects of my life.  
As a child I didn't question whether my parents loved me, I have a very loving and openly affectionate family.  I didnt' realize it might be considered strange to kiss my family on the mouth until I was well into my twenties.  I think this is a blessing, I always knew I was loved and that I was loved unconditionally.  My family is very unusual in many ways.  I guess what I am working with is having a healthy loving relationship with my girls while encouraging them to follow my lead in behavior and do what I "want" them to do. 
This is not a new parenting idea, many of my parent friends talk about this dynamic. The reality I wonder upon is what if what I want them to do and what they want to do is dramatically different, how do we solve that? How does that work out to create a relationship that is loving and accepting and that works for all of us.  In the day to day, that really is what is most important to me, what works for all of us.  I know it doesnt' work for them to have to follow orders all day and not express their free will and desire.  I also know it doesn't work for me to spend all day picking up clothes and putting shoes away, setting the table and listening to yelling and yelling back. This brings us to the minute by minute of whether to put more water into the bathtub and how long is an appropriate amount of time to be taking a bath anyways... 

1 comment:

  1. Essentially all children need boundaries but they also need chances to make decisions. Boundaries and routine are there to generate a sense of safety, trust in the world and reasonable expectations of daily living. Being able to make decisions allows children to exercise their own judgement, express themselves, and help in the development of their self worth. Of course having both is a fine balance on top of it also being a dynamic practice. As your children grow their abilities will grow. Each will develop at their own pace in accordance to their environment, personal development, and temperament, among other factors. As they change your approach can change. For example reasoning with a two year old about how much bath time they have is silly because of their concept of time etc. But setting a timer for a two year old for the bath lets them know when the limit is and they may choose to be done before if they'd like. Then as they get older perhaps they'll set the timer for themselves and gauge how much time they want or need. They then can be decision makers, where they know the max is 20 min. lets say (which has already be conditionally predetermined by practice with you), and they can decide for themselves.

    In conflict or conversation we also need to look at what motivates the children right? Ask her questions about why she wants this or that. She may simply say, "because I do," or "because I want it." But her responses will greatly inform you on how you want to respond. In these moments of "battle" you should also ask yourself what is this moment about? Is it a teachable moment? Is it simply a time to fulfill a basic need, i.e. sleep, food, is needed? Is it time to encourage her self help skills? After thinking about that, then proceed.

    Being a parent as you are, and me being a teacher/nanny, we realize its exhausting raising children because they require a lot of us. You may wonder how in the world am I to think of these things in the middle of it all. But I suppose like anything parenting is a practice and not a one shot wonder.