This house has been pretty tense lately. Who ever said boys are easy? Especially teenage boys? More often than not, I am walking on eggshells when my kids are in the same room as each other, prepping myself for the next throw down.
The other day, it got bad. Real bad. Gnashing of teeth bad. And I found myself spouting off a gazillion consequences at different moments of the afternoon. And I heard my conscience whisper, "That ain't gonna work."
I was at a loss on how to parent these kids.
After hashing out my frustration with a friend who has a little more wisdom with older kids, I took a deep breath and remembered a bit of advice I had recently read.
Parents aren't here to raise kids, their job is to raise up adults.
I think a big problem around here has been my mentality that parenting means I put my children in their place as a child. Besides just getting wrapped up in their emotions, trying to figure out the best consequence to remind them they are under my control and I'm the boss, ('Mwahahahaha' would probably be appropriate here) might just be a bit outdated. Don't get me wrong, consequences are certainly a good and necessary thing for bad behavior, but the nature of the consequences, perhaps the frequency, must shift as my children grow.
More than dishing out consequences, I should model what it means to be the adult. I am their biggest adult model besides their dad.
That changed the ball game a bit. That gave me advice I 'd never given them before.
I forced myself to teach them as an adult instead of bearing over them like an authority figure.
During this last blow out (means something different post-diaper stage), instead of taking away iPhones, friends, and privileges, I gave them a scenario on adult terms and grabbed their attention on a more intellectual level, instead of a "gimme your stuff, bad boy" hand-slap disciplinarian action.
Their ears perked when I gave them a peek at my adult perspective.
What teen doesn't want to be talked to about adult things in an adult way?
Just a couple of years ago, they saw Dad and I struggle badly, basically we treated each other in a way that induced misery on all who were involved. BUT, BECAUSE WE WORKED AT IT LIKE ADULTS (finally...it took a LOT of childish actions to turn our ways) I had the privilege of reminding the first-hand witnesses--aka my children--how my husband and I both chose LOVE to make it work.
A very real adult circumstance redeemed by a choice that goes against every childish tendency in our selfish human nature. Something fighting siblings might use as an internal a-ha moment next time they are tempted to spiral into a fighting mess.
Sometimes, I find myself trapping my kids in this box where discipline was once all about raising a good, well-behaved child. But they've grown well past that now. They need to learn to be adults. And I can tell they'd love to be treated that way. It's my job as their parent to guide them as best as I can...even if it means sharing the messiness of my own poor choices.
I vow to raise my kids to be adults. They'll thank me sooner than later, I bet!