Monday, October 8, 2012

31 Days of Repetitive Parenting: Day 8 "Are you trying to get into more trouble?"

Sometimes rainy days and Mondays get me down.  Add to it, deadlines, appointments, teen drama, toddler tantrums, hormones - and the conditions are ripe for a parental perfect storm!

That was the case today.  One day it may be clear sailing and the next a hurricane surge of raw emotions.

At times like these, Hubby and I attempt to navigate the oncoming storm by asking a simple question, "Are you trying to get into more trouble?"  This is sometimes worded with a more positive spin, "How can you get out of trouble?"  Depending on the emotional weather conditions, these questions may be met with a deep breath and a calm response as our son or daughter consider their words carefully, attempting to calm the storm within.  At other times, well, not so much.

In those cases when things are tumultuous, even the calm reminder to think about getting into less trouble rather than more trouble, only seems to escalate matters.  What began as a gentle reminder to reconsider a Facebook post ended up with the expectation of a five page research paper with full bibliography.  As, Darlin' expressed when observing how we handled disciplining her brother, "Wow!  You sure have some creative punishments."  He wasn't nearly as amused.  Of course, she lacks the sunny disposition when it has been her turn to write the essays!

Fortunately, theses flash flood teen moments, tend to calm down as quickly as they arose and that is when we might revisit a particular punishment to confirm if it did indeed fit the crime.  Our kids know that they can approach us calmly, with reasonable suggestions for an alternative disciplinary action.  Sometimes we may stand firm and at other times we may relent, having recognized that we too may have gotten caught up in the tornado of emotions when forming our original judgment.

It is quite important, as a parent, to recognize when we may have over reacted...just a bit.  We must ask ourselves if the punishment we have chosen for a particular infraction is appropriate or not.  It is at this point that I usually call Hubby and bother him at work!

The most memorable time, was when Darlin' was in preschool and I called Hubby out of sheer frustration.  I did not know what to do, because after things had escalated so much, I realized I had just taken water away from her for a week!  His calm response was, "I'm pretty sure we can't do that."  Naturally,  I knew that my discipline had become quite ludicrous and I needed another, less emotional, parent to step in and help.

Our kids know that we recognize our mistakes.  Even today, after calmly issuing the 5-page essay verdict, I was willing to acknowledge that an appeal could be made to Hubby to determine if I hadn't repeated the water fiasco.  Now that the storm has subsided, I am probably much more willing to accept the oral presentation that was offered as an alternative.

As we continue to navigate the choppy waters of the teen years, I am thankful that they respond pretty well to our mayday signal. "Are you trying to get into more trouble?"  Just like an S.O.S. from a sinking ship, it bears repeating.

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  1. Your post bought me right back to the days of raising my teenage boys! I never ever thought I would survive but I did! You will be able to look back one day and realize how well you did navigating the choppy waters!

    1. Thanks! Fortunately, the frenzied moments are not continual and we see so many great qualities in our kids. We look forward to seeing what they will do as they grow up!