We may view it as our responsibility to control something that is not in fact within our control and yet fail to exercise the power and authority that we do have over our own behavior. Mothers cannot make children think feel, or be a certain way, but we can be firm, consistent, and clear about what behavior we will and will not tolerate, and what the consequences are for misbehavior. We can also change our part in patterns that keep family members stuck. At the same time we are doomed to failure with any self-help venture if we view the problem as existing within ourselves--or within the child or the child's father, for that matter. There is never one villain in family live, although it may appear that way on the surface. (148)I'm a do-er, and Phantom's comment on the last post reminded me of this book, and I felt more hopeful already, just knowing I could stop at the library on the way out of work and pick up a copy. I feel more hopeful knowing that I can read more of it.
Although I snorted as I read a few pages later, in a story about a woman whose 4 year old daughter was upset about the mother's dating, and kept throwing fits that would get the mother to cancel dates. With St. Harriet's help, the mother realizes that she can't control her daughter's reaction to the dating, and that her daughter shouldn't be the one making dating decisions for her. So she learns to validate the daughter's feelings and make adult decisions about the dating. Good work all around. And then there's this: "....throwing a tantrum was unacceptable behavior. If Claudia did this, Alicia would pick her up and take her to her room, where she would have to stay until she calmed down" (152). And of course, if CG were the sort of child who would just stay in her room until she calmed down, I'd be blogging about something else entirely.
I think I'll also pull out my copy of Deborah Gray's wonderful book on attachment and adoption, and Keck's Parenting the Hurt Child. I don't know--I never know--whether CG's emotions are adoption-related, but I always wonder. Her anger has to be trying to communicate something, and those are some other resources to try.
I don't mean to overstate the problems here, nor do I mean to assume that I (or even Politica and I) can change CG's behavior. Seems like there's a little less resiliency there than there used to be; maybe it'll pass; maybe we need a little professional help, in or out of school. I don't know.
But I do know that I can change my reaction to CG's outbursts, and I can snicker at all the parenting books that make it sound like time outs work if parents are serious about them, and that will probably make me feel more hopeful.
And feeling hopeful is a good thing. Harriet. Hope. H.
This is really the