Our financial advisor gave me a brilliant piece of advice I've tried to remember (and I've probably blogged about it). He likened parenthood to investment.
If you put money in the bank or investments, and you consistently do it, then on the rare occasions when you have to take money out to buy a faulty water heater or some other hardship, it isn't such a big deal.
Same with parenting.
You make "deposits" into your relationships with your children and then, on those occasions when you completely lose.your.sh*t., you have plenty of good feeling in the relationship bank so it isn't such a big deal.
Today, I made a big OLE FAT withdrawal from the bank that was precipitated by M screaming his head off in the car and kicking the side door and window of the minivan. Of course, I was the evil mother who made a 5-minute errand to buy his preschool teacher a gift card after picking him up in carpool. Call CPS! Mom made me run an errand!
I know all the parenting books and articles and manuals say, "Don't yell at your kids! You'll scare them."
But here is what I think, and the parenting experts can bite it:
1. I don't yell first. I give options. I talk calmly. I try to ignore. But when I do these things and get a giant stinking pile of psycho-kid-behavior launched directly at me, I can and will go ballistic on my children.
2. While yelling at my children, I am very clear to point out that the reason Mommy is yelling is because they launched a giant pile of stinking psycho-kid-sh*t at me, and perhaps, if they had not done so I wouldn't feel like I'd give a zillion dollars to NOT BE AROUND THEM RIGHT THIS SECOND.
3. While yelling, I also take away a privilege. I want them to understand that in addition to being disrespectful (or downright dangerous if they are doing this crap while I am trying to drive, as M was today), they made me angry, and so their tantrum didn't get them anything they wanted at all. It made me mad, AND they lost a privilege.
4. If we don't occasionally have mass blow-ups, we miss the opportunity to talk about what a dreadful thing it is to have blow-ups. Today, M said "I'm sorry" (something he has never done), and I said, "I'm sorry for yelling," (something I have often done). (When it comes to setting a marriage example, D and I are not yellers at all. We get annoyed at each other, of course, but we don't raise our voices or call names or do any of that stuff. I'm not sure if built-up resentment is better, but somehow we've managed to stay mostly happily married for 17 years.)
I don't say any of this to condone it. It sucks. I wish I could remain calm and reasonable. My patience only goes so far. Maybe because I generally keep my "parenting" bank account with my kids pretty full, I don't worry that they will fall into piles of pathetic rubble when I yell.
What I do worry about more is that if I pussy-foot around them, talking calmly and not showing a "true, real" response, they will think it is perfectly ok to do whatever the heck they want around mom. Push my buttons and drive me crazy, and I'll just take it smiling. And should they ever do this kind of stuff around someone else, that someone else who doesn't love them will bash their teeth in.
I don't necessarily think a kid knowing "The only reason I am not strangling you with my bare hands is because I really do love you, but you will NOT treat me like a piece of crap" is a bad thing.
I'm sure this will be good fodder for my "Mother of the Year" speech.