The Parenting Pendulum

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

August 14, 2010


Categories: Family

If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably have gotten the idea that I like to discuss ideas. (Come on people, comment more!) Relationships, in their myriad forms, are at the crux of many of these discussions. Whether it be politics, religion, love, friendship, parenting, sibling rivalry – relationships are the basis of discussion. How we work together, how we decide together, how we live together. In a recent post, I discussed my skepticism of attachment parenting. Getting Levi in daycare, these past two weeks, picking up The Trouble with Boys, and just thinking more about how we raise our children makes me wonder about how we raise our children.

I was in kindergarten. We were living in Iron Mountain, Michigan. My school had two floors. We lived at the top of a hill. We lived there during winter. I would slide down the hill and climb back up (no fun), when it was covered with ice and snow. School was maybe two blocks away from home. There was a small main street, and I think the laundromat was near school, although that recollection is much fainter.

I remember having to sit with my head down, arms folded on my desk, the standard punishment when something bad was done. I remember my name being written on the board, the clue to how you knew you’d been bad. I remember sitting out recess and not being able to play with the toys. I remember being confused because for the life of me, I had no idea what I had done wrong.

I have asked my mother about this, and she rationalized that I was simply a brat at that age. So, what would make a 5 year old girl such a brat? Well, my father had left. I think that would have done it.

So, why do kids act out, and what do we do as adults to deal with it? 27 years ago, my name was put on the blackboard in the bad corner, and I had to sit at my desk (the ONLY kid) with my head down wondering what the hell I had done wrong. My adult brain wants a rational reason for being put in time out. My adult brain wants to discuss this bad thing, and certainly, simply know what that bad thing was.

Now, I am a parent. Now I employ timeouts and sometimes spankings. The frustration I feel when Levi doesn’t listen (something that is quite typical for the 3 year old) says talking out feelings doesn’t work all the time. Why? Because the kiddo isn’t listening. Watching Levi’s teachers and they patience the consistently employ is amazing. (The State of Oregon and ridiculous school policies will be expanded on when I have more energy.) I don’t have that kind of patience, day to day. I have patience, but I don’t have that kind of patience. There is a difference, and the reason why I haven’t explored teaching as a profession. Sometimes, as a parent, I need a quick, “STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND LISTEN TO ME.” So, I warn, sometimes I raise my voice, and sometimes I yell. It’s not that I’m angry, per se, it’s an attention getter for kids. This is what I don’t understand about attachment parenting (or rather my understanding of it).

In Attachment Parenting, it’s as if the prophesiers of the theory forget about kids not listening. As the adult, you are supposed to be calm, all the time, kneel, look the child in the eyes, and talk about your feelings until the cows come home.

As a child, I wished more people would have sincerely asked me how I felt. As a child, I didn’t feel listened to, and I am sure thats why I acted out. But, not all children act out out of frustration. Some do, and it’s not paid enough attention to (enter The Trouble with Boys). But, as a society, our pendulum has swung, and we’re missing some links in our chains.

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