Friday, March 20, 2009

Enabling, Rescuing, or Self-Protection

Julie hit the nail on the head with her comment yesterday. It's not always about love with some of my kids. It's not about jumping in to help them so they will succeed, it's about jumping in to help them so that they will not punish me later.

Responsible parenting says, "if you don't get up in time, you can walk to school." And so, with my easier kids who don't punish me for providing them with consequences, I just let them be. Once in a blue moon they have to walk, but overall they do a fine job of setting an alarm and getting ready for school. However, my kids with ODD .... I can't make myself let them sleep because then they won't walk. They'll stay home and trash the house. They'll refuse to go to school. They'll make my life miserable. And so I force them out of bed -- not because I love them....

Now, it may well be that if I would refuse to wake them and not take them and they didn't get to go to school or whatever -- natural consequences -- that they might learn like the others. But am I brave enough to risk it? NO WAY.

Love and Logic parenting, or the approach of natural consequences, requires a great deal more parental emotional energy than most people would imagine. To shut up and stay out of things when you're watching a kid head for disaster without stepping in and doing something.

But if we are really honest with ourselves, we don't jump in to rescue them from their consequences, we jump in to rescue ourselves from what will happen to us.

Several weeks ago I was visiting some friends who have a very high maintenance granddaughter. It was late in the evening, and the kindergartner was quite tired. Her mother, knowing her daughter well, was finding her a snack. She was carefully choosing unbroken graham crackers. 15 years ago I would have mocked her in my mind and said, "no WAY I would do that for my daughter, If she doesn't want the broken ones she can go without."

But this time I knew better. I knew that it had nothing to do with enabling her daughter or spoiling her. It didn't have to do with the mom caring at all about what kind of crackers her daughter was going to eat.

It had to do with the fact that she had a 20 minute ride ahead and she was not interested in hearing her daughter scream. She was tired, she wanted peace -- thus, meticulous unbroken graham cracker selection.

And this is the way I do it sometimes too. It's not about my kids learning self discipline or anything like that.

Sometimes it's just about me remaining sane. Lazy parenting, maybe. But there are days when that is what it takes to survive.


debbie said...

claudia, i just have to write this. not really to do with your blog, but i have been reading you faithfully for the last few years and you have so changed in your outlook on parenting. it is so impressive. i used to read you as you always put a laugh in my day but now i am so interested to read how you are changing as a parent. you really focus on your kids needs and why they are the way they are. just have to say great job. i would truly love to hear you speak sometime. i will check your speaking dates and see if you come anywhere close sometime.

Claudia said...

Thanks for the compliment. However, I feel like the older I get the less answers I have and the more questions come up that I can't answer.....

Mary said...

You nailed it. I see so much of what I do with one daughter is exactly so that the chaos around us is lessened. Ugh.

Angela :-) said...

Love this!

Angela :-)

Tracey said...

Amen! You said it perfectly. I find that a lot of my parenting is for self-preservation. I'm not going to let her oversleep and miss the bus because I'll be the one inconvenienced. I really think Love and Logic is a great concept but it does need to be adapted to the real world of the kids we're parenting. It didn't take me long to realize that there's no magic trick to parenting that will work for every kid.

lskimberly said...

Same here! For all of the years that my big kids were at home, the girls always argued that I didn't treat them fairly because I did so much more for their brother. I had to! That's how we all survived!

CalvaryGirl said...

Having a "high maintenance" son at one time (he's different, now), that makes total sense.

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