I had an interesting conversation with my husband today. He remarked that my parenting is changing in an interesting way. I said I hadn't noticed. In truth, maybe I have.
When I first became a parent, a trusted older friend who had already raised her children gave me a book by T. Berry Brazelton called Touchpoints. I loved the book's approach to varying child temperaments and its description of developmental stages. But what I took special pains to implement was Brazelton's approach to child discipline. The goal of discipline, as I understood his explanation, was to lead a child to self-discipline. That is to say, to give a child tools to operate successfully in the world and to own his or her own decision-making in a conscious way.
When I was growing up (sorry, Mom and Dad) the only goals of discipline that I could discern were maintaining order and showing who was in charge.
I will admit, there was a learning curve for me. As a young mother I lost my cool more than once. There were times that I had to stop myself from reacting to a situation or an undesirable behavior just to show I was still the boss. But, I have learned to be more detached and to understand my children's choices as exactly that -- their choices.
Fast forward to today's conversation. My husband observed that I have been giving my oldest child a "longer leash" when it comes to his temper. He has been easily frustrated lately, and sometimes it seems that his emotions are bubbling just beneath the surface, ready to burst out at a moment's notice.
Experience tells me that heightened emotions are par for the course during the first part of the school year. Schedules are changing and so are relationships. With so much up in the air in my children's lives, it's no wonder that they choose home as their safe place to let their emotions fly.
But in a way, I can see my husband's point. I have been shifting gears on discipline with our oldest. Maybe I'm waiting for him to find his feet on his own. Maybe I'm hoping that the ever-elusive self-discipline will kick in. Maybe I understand that I can't muscle him into a place where he has full emotional control at all times.
I'm not even in that place yet.
I explained as much to my husband. And he gave me a raised-eyebrow look of appreciation. "You may be right," he admitted. "Let's just wait and be supportive."
So now we wait and help and express our confidence in our son. I'm hoping this year will be an important one for him -- a time he'll look back at and recognize that his parents started giving him more responsibility and more credit for making his own choices.
I suppose we'll see if this was the right time to shift gears.
- Midwest Mom