Wednesday, March 14, 2012

being nice

I am trying to be a really nice mom.  It is almost killing me.  I am trying to never raise my voice or use any sort of critical words or tone of voice - despite unacceptable behavior.  I am trying to always be rational and patient and use my words.  (This is a bit comical, since I am constantly telling my children to do the same thing and I am discovering that this may be beyond me to be successful at such behavior.)

The other day, I crumbled and lectured (very briefly) my 9-year old for not closing the front door of the house though he was the last one to come out.  I caught myself quickly and then, as I drove up our street, before realizing that all four children were attentively listening, I exclaimed in desperation while clutching my steering wheel, "It is just too hard to be nice all of the time!"

But, I have decided that all of this is worth it.  We are role models for our children, and I think it is best if they work out problems with each other with words and calm, respectful voices.

A few weeks ago I suddenly saw myself, from another perspective.  I was completely and solely surviving.  I had discovered through trial and error that when I raised my voice, all four of my kids would do exactly what I asked.  If I asked calmly, three times, that they do something, they ignored me quite easily, and then when I raised my voice they stood at attention.  It became a habit, for all of us.  And it eventually became apparent that all of my energy was focused on only surviving.  I began to feel like I was raising my voice - all of the time.  I felt desperate and mean.  I felt like I had no control - unless I was mean.  I started to feel like I had no control in many aspects of my life, and that I was barely surviving.  This was not because my circumstances dictated that I had to only survive.  I chose to act that way, or rather, react that way.  And I am hoping now that I can choose not only to survive these years with young children, but to enjoy them (thoroughly) and become a better person during the process... despite how difficult it may be for me.

It's been a week and it is still challenging, but the effects are reverberating.  Just my decision to not be controlled by the actions (or lack of action) of others has strengthened me and lifted me, and helped me feel better about myself as a mom.


Your Doctor's Wife said...

From my experience, you want your kids to fear you (to a reasonable and healthy point) going into their teen years. They should fear that they will be in trouble if they are out of line or knowingly make a misstep. Being nice got me no where.
I remind them I was put on this earth to be their mother, not their friend. I am their superior and they need to learn how to properly respect their superiors.
They learn how to treat others by observing how we treat our spouses, friends and family.
I tell them I will be their friend once they have completed their education and are settled, THEN I'll be their friend... Right now, I've got a job to do.
Good luck, it's a tough job! ;)

Jamie Lamb said...

This post reminds me of what I read from January's Ensign about George Albert Smith. Being loving and nice has been on my mind a lot lately too! Here's what George Albert Smith said:

“It is our duty—I should say it is our privilege as well as our duty to take sufficient time to surround our children with safeguards and to so love them and earn their love that they will be glad to listen to our advice and counsel.”

I've been trying so hard to be careful with how I talk to my kids lately, because honestly...I'm going for results here, not simply inflicting justice! (I keep trying to tell myself that!) My most difficult child has quite the temper. It's been so helpful lately to just get him to spill (politely and in private) his feelings to me, rather than just me lecturing him. I can literally see his little eyes open up and trust me again--enough so that he makes an effort to improve. (that is huge!) Once his feelings are all spoken, THEN I kindly do my best to teach him.

Here's the link to the article I read...I never knew much about George Albert Smith before, but now I just love him!

Love hearing your insights, Liz--you're great!

Liz said...

That was a great article. Thank you for sending it! I do think love is the most powerful way to motivate each other, and I often feel that my biggest challenge in teaching my children is being able to motivate them. I don't so much think about being friends with my children. I remember thinking - even in 3rd grade - that my own mom was a bit clueless / out of touch - and now she is one of my absolute best friends! I think I assume if that ever happens (that we are friends) then it will happen later. I worry more about teaching them how to make good choices without infringing on their free agency. Oh my, my eye is twitching just thinking about it!