Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Defiance and Disrespect

I am seeking your advice.

My 8 1/2 year old son is pushing me over the edge due to his lack of respect and total defiance of me. I feel I am at the end of my rope and would like to know your thoughts on how to instill into the mind of a young boy that he needs to respect his parents (particularly his mother). I thought we were instilling this in him since the day he was born, but lately his lack of respect has caused me embarrassment and humiliation, not to mention feelings of failure as I evaluate myself as a mother.

I am tired of the yelling matches. I'm tired of reviewing appropriate behavior prior to leaving for an activity. I'm tired of implementing consequences. I'm tired of the absence of my once happy and cooperative child.

I met with the school counselor last week (finally) to discuss our concerns regarding Mitchell and why we have requested counseling for him. After a lengthly discussion with Lisa (the counselor; not her real name), she actually reassured me that Mitchell's behaviors are normal for a boy his age, and really, not much for me to be concerned about. However, she is still going to meet with him in order to help him work through his issues of non-acceptance at the school and the psychological bullying that he's experienced lately. We discussed our family history and the extreme amount of stress that our household endured as a result of my stepson living with us (he hasn't lived with us for almost 3 years, but both Mitchell and Ty remember time prior to that when he did reside with us). Lisa pointed something out to me that I hadn't really thought about much before; my past experience parenting Thomas (my stepson) will affect the way I parent the other boys, whether I realize it or not. She said I am likely "hyper-sensitive" about my boys' behavior simply because of the intense behaviors Thomas exhibited. I am quick to jump to the worst possible conclusion about what my younger boys are doing; I am more sensitive to the opinions of others due to the scrutiny under which Wayne and I were subjected to while Thomas lived with us; I am just generally a more aware parent regarding "what's normal" and "what's not normal". While these things can all be beneficial, they can also be detrimental.

People tell me my boys are just normal boys. But when I observe anyone else's kids (particularly boys), I always feel like mine are not living up to the overall expectations that society has placed upon a boy of their particular age. This causes me a lot of stress and frustration. And I'm not sure how to get past it.

I honestly feel like I'm fighting a losing battle with Mitchell regarding the respect thing. And it scares me. I want to get this under control before the teen years hit, otherwise life is going to be even more chaotic than it is now. I really feel like I've failed my boys as a mom, because I am so quick to get on their case about things and sometimes I think I expect too much from them. And I find myself comparing them to the other boys in their age groups and it just leaves me feeling even more like a failure.

I know a lot of my regular readers have boys younger than 8 1/2 so I'm not sure what you can tell me. But I'd love any suggestions you may have. I love my boys so much and I just want them to be emotionally whole, healthy and happy. I feel like I've missed something important in this process of helping them mature, but I don't know exactly what it is or how to fix this seemingly ongoing problem.

Thanks for letting me share what's on my heart.


Brenda said...

I think all kids go through this "phase". One thing that worked with my older girls was to point out during this behavior how they would feel if I talked to them this way. I told them I never would because I love them and have respect for their feelings. If what you are doing doesn't work I always say to try something else. You are such a creative person I have no doubt it will come to you. You are a great mom. Don't doubt yourself. Have you read Dobson's Bringing Up Boys? That book is very reassuring I think.

The Walker Family said...

Kim, my heart goes out to you. I don't know what to say because my boys aren't of that age yet, and I don't know what all you experienced with Thomas. But I do know that you are really, really, way too hard on yourself. I'm reading this book right now titled "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" by Joanna Weaver. In it she talks about worry "So much depends on our perspective. If my God isn't bigger than life, then my life is bigger than God - and that's when anxiety takes over." She continues quoting Bill & Kathy Peel.."It's an interesting thing, the human mind, it can only focus on a couple of things at a time. When we're preoccupied with a problem and focus on our own inadequacy to handle it, there's really no room to add God to the picture. The ability to think rationally returns only when we refocus on God's adequacy." I just loved that. Kim, I challenge you to tell yourself everyday that you are Exactly the Mother that Mitchell, Ty and Thomas need. God placed you all together...don't say that your failing...God hasn't left the situation, He will get you through it and because He placed you there...you are perfect for the job because you have Him. That confidence will soon show to your boys too...who knows what could happen then...I will be praying for you Kim. (sorry about this being so long).

Kristy said...

Hi Kimmy.
Just want to let you know, I'm praying for you - I'll be emailing you.........

stacey said...

i don't have answers, but will check back to see what sage advice you do get!

hang in there!

Story of our Life said...

Having BTDT - Yes I do agree to some extent that parents like ourselves are "hyper vigilant".

That being said I feel that "experienced professionals like to say things like that to make us feel better. Not only that but sometimes those well deserving professionals just dont' know what to say/do.

Do I make any sense?

My opinion....just as it is. Honest, pure, full of garbage what ever you want to take it for..

Yes...I feel it is normal.
No...I don't think it is normal.
What is normal? I don't knwo.

I do know that my 5.5 yr old is rude, obnoxious, crude and funny all at once. His dad and I are not rude or crude or obnoxious. We dont' make farting noises w/our armpits during swimming lessons. We don't say "hey how far can you spit in this pool" and get the rest of the kids to follow suit.

Where does this come from...I ask myself.I have no clue.

Not only is my son "the above" things..he is also very funny, loving and full of mischief all at once. He makes me laugh and cry all at once.

He also has significant sensory integration defensiveness. Thankfully, "my" doctor saw something that wasn't right. She didn't listen to me when I said "It's okay __ It is just because of all the stress at home". She made an appt for him w/the pediatric neuropsychologist. She then called me to say "I hope you are not mad at me. I know you said xyz...but I just think something isn't right..."

Had we NEVER went to see that doctor I would be in a really bad spot w/this kid.

My advise....pull him in close. Pull him as close as you can. Attachment parenting (does great regardless if the child has attachment issues or not). Set VERY VERY CLEAR boundries. Those boundries get broke. Tough noogies.

What does he value? My 8.5 yr old daughter and 5.5 yr old son VALUE being able to have a tv in their room, their computer time and their gameboys.

You mess w/me? You embarrass me? ALL of those things are mine...for a day...keep it up...2 days....3 days? Want me to take the batteries and the plug? I've never got past 2 days w/Bry. Abi I did get to a week. H owever, it was one of those things that as "mom" I needed to rethink what "I" was doing. (((I AM NOT sayiing you need to do something different...just for me at that time)).

Abi remembers when Corry was in our home. She not to long ago told us she wanted to "go away for a few yrs like Corry did" because she didn't want to follow the rules. I was devastated and mad all at once. We gave it no attention and told her "no you have no choice..." and moved on.

Take a step back, deep breathe in and make a plan. Find what makes him tick?

Go to the library and get the book the "Out of Sync Child" or something like that...if you can't find it email me and let me know and i will get the exact name and author. It described bry to a t. after I read that and had a new game plan...we were doing better.

next week when i'm tired of his antics and ready to bean him..please remind me this. :O)

hang in there dear!!

Becky said...

No advice, just (((hugs))).

(Sounds like you got some good advice anyways. I'm going to read it and try to remember it for when my boys are that age.)

{Karla} said...

the advice here is great.

hugs hugs to you!

xo ~K

degsies said...

"The Out of Sync Child" is an awesome book, but i don't think it's your solution - a good read though just for general behavior awareness.

My intial response to your concerns here is that boys will be boys. and you need to let them be boys. being your child's advocate means loving them, focusing on the positive more than the negatives, and trying to find simple solutions to some of the negatives. we find that the more positive time we spend with our kids, the less negative behaviors there are, and the easier they are to deal with.

I also think we compare our kids too much and think too highly of other mothers!! have confidence in yourself and your parenting - don't let yourself feel judged b/c you know your sons best and what their needs are. you are a good mom, keep telling yourself that.