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Parenting Doubt – Feeling Like A Failure…

Sunday, 2nd September 2012

Parenting Doubt – Feeling Like A Failure…

Dear big ol’ Universe,

Every parent has good days and bad days, but lately there seems to be more and more bad ones.

It seems that the monsters are out of control which makes me feel out of control.

It makes me ache on the inside in a way that no words can describe.

Nothing is how I want it to be, it’s not even close. The kids are pushing and pushing and pushing and we’re snapping and snapping and snapping.

I feel like everything we’ve tried to do to get our ‘normal’ back has failed, which in my mind automatically pushes the big fat FAIL button in my parenting career.

They said to confiscate everything.

We took everything away, and the kids became destructive. Drawing on walls, breaking into the shed and so on. I put this down to boredom because they had nothing to do.

They said to create routines.

Everything is an argument at the moment. No matter what I do to set up a routine, somebody is working against me.

They said to try rewards and reward charts.

What do the kids say to this? “We don’t care if we don’t get a sticker”…. So then what do you do???

They say to confiscate things…. Hmmmm, but it doesn’t work!

They say to follow through with consequences.

Well those of you that read us regularly would know what happened when Aria refused to tidy her room.

To cut a long story short, she was told that having her own room was not a right, it was a privilege. If she wasn’t going to tidy it up, then she would lose it. She lost her room, and she didn’t give a bugger. Couldn’t care less.

Now this was one threat I was certain of. Completely sure that it would work but alas, we’re back at square one as within a day of her moving rooms, her new room is trashed and I cannot see the carpet…. Excuse? “It wasn’t me”.

So almighty parenting gurus, what do I do next? Throw her outside to sleep? I mean the dog makes mess less and she’s out there….. Somehow I’m not sure it’ going to be legal though….

The fighting, screaming and blatant disrespect for anyone or anything is getting me down.

I have spoken to their teachers and apparently they’re fine at school, they’re just saving it all up for us at home.

Now I am well aware that children need 3 things.

1. Love & Warmth,

2. Boundaries & Rules and

3. Consistency & Routines.

In my defense I think I have well and truly covered the second 2 and in all honesty, lately I am really struggling with number 1.

Of course I love my monsters to bits. More than anything.

But lately, their behavior has been so challenging that more often than not, I don’t want them all over me. I am angry at them. I am upset with them. I am mentally exhausted with them.

The last 2 weekends I have really tried to put an emphasis on some family time and being with each other. The thought process behind this was that if we were busy enjoying ourselves and having a good time together, showing the monsters the love and affection that I always have would not be so strained.

Another FAIL.

Last weekend we took them to visit family they hardly get to see, then we took them to an open range zoo. Pretty cool I thought…. But they were constantly fighting, pushing and hurting each other. They were climbing the walls and driving everyone mental. And just when we thought we’d made progress, the ‘I want’ and ‘I’m hungry’ tantrums began.

Kids at the Werribee zoo

But I wasn’t going to let one bad experience get me down. I made plans for this weekend too.

Round 2. Yesterday we took them to the local circus. 15mins after we had eaten lunch the ‘I’m hungry’ crap started, closely followed by the ‘I want’. We purchased them 2 light up whirly things to take turns of.

It was all we could afford at $10 a pop, and after paying $135 in tickets. So they begin to fight over them. Expected? Almost certain.

10mins later, the first whirly was in pieces. Yep, they fought over it until it was literally pulled apart. The second one was pulled to pieces in the bus on the way home.

That brings me to today. Fathers day.

We took them to the market. We let them choose something to buy each, and then gave them a turn on the (feckin’ expensive) jumping castle. After the market we took them to Maccas and they had some lunch, and a big play on the playground.

All we had to do after that was head to the shop to buy some new shoes for school.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask after being treated out like that.

But no, the nonsense started again as we walked into the building and deteriorated with every step further into the shops.

They wont follow a simple instruction. 2 of them ran out in front of a moving car after being asked to stop… twice.

It’s not only frustrating and stressful it’s now dangerous as well.

Am I game enough to attempt what’s planned for next weekend?? I just don’t know.

I don’t know if I have it in me to deal with their nonsense. I don’t want to quit trying, but I am at my wits end.

I wake up each day feeling like I’ve failed them as a parent and I go to sleep each day feeling worse.

For years I have always ‘done my best’, but what do I do when my best isn’t quite good enough?

Yours sincerly,

One upset Mumma. xox





    Written by:

    1. Huge hugs. I can completely relate. I took Mr Z (age 8) to a psychologist. She has been a huge help with routines, rewards, etc. I had also tried everything! I hope you can find a solution that works for your family.

    2. commonchaoschronicle

      That's what I am thinking is on the cards Melissa, except everyone keeps telling me that they're just being 'kids'.... I know kids,but this is beyond that though! Thanks for the reassurance, I know there's a light at the end, I just have to find it!

    3. karen nightingale

      Oh Jac my heart goes out to you, having been following you for a while now I know that you do truly try, could you maybe arrange for the kids to go family and friends and just have time with hubby and baby for a weekend, probably not all at the one place, praying it gets better, sending you big hugs

    4. Don't be so hard on yourself Jacqui. I can see how hard you try, sometimes kids just love testing their boundaries and all methods can fail because let's face it, there's no foolproof method of bringing up a child let alone 5! Maybe instead of bringing them all out at once, try going on a 'date' with just the girls and the boys can go with their dad? Also, could something be bothering Aria that she's acting the way she is? Maybe have a one on one with her? Maybe she's missing you? Don't know, just giving you some ideas. xx

    5. commonchaoschronicle

      I got some scrapbooking stuff today while we were out to do with just Aria one on one. I'm interested to see if it will make a difference. :-)

    6. Bri

      One strategy that can work is finding each child's 'currency'. What matters to them the most. And as a flow on, what would matter to them the most if it was taken away. For example, my son's is his technology. So when he misbehaves, we use his currency to mete out the consequences. Which in his case are removal of technology privileges. He doesnt want to do his chores? Fine. But he loses the computer, ipad, Xbox etc. He soon does his chores again. It is just a matter of finding each child's currency. And the currency might be something you aren't anticipating. Worth a try if you haven't already.

    7. Sarah

      I'm currently attending a parenting course on exactly this problem. Heart Ties: Enriching Parenthood is run here in Brisbane (which doesn't help you much, I know). It's a 5 week program, and they don't even really get to discipline until week 4! So here are a few tips: First - Bulldozing over your kids (taking everything away, etc) doesn't really teach them anything. It can work - until they can avoid the penalties. You can smack until they are big enough to smack back, you can confiscate stuff ... but it's adversarial. It's bad for you, and it's bad for them. So instead, whenever they misbehave, take a deep breath, plant a smile on your face, DO NOT YELL. (Having said that, I lost it at my kids tonight - no one's perfect!). When they nag at you "I hate you" reply with "I know" and a smile. That'll throw them, and you are removing the fight. "I'll starve to death if you don't feed me!" "Possibly" with a smile. It sounds weird, but it works! If you do lose your temper, apologise and tell them that it's not acceptable to yell in this house - any rule that applies to them in terms of behaviour needs to apply to you too. That way it's fair, and that's one less thing they can argue about. Give them a choice - as many as possible. Let them choose which cup, let them choose where they sit, let them choose whether they do their homework or clean their room - but they get to choose between one of two or three choices that are acceptable to you. Both need to be fair and logical, but one can be a little more favourable than the other. "You can choose to eat your vegetables, or you can choose to skip dessert." "You can choose to get your homework done, or you can choose not to do it. If you choose not to do it that is fine, but you will not be able to watch your favourite TV show." "You can go to bed now, or you may choose to stay up for an extra 10 minutes." (Tell them that 10 minutes before bedtime if they can't read the clock - they'll think they got to stay up late!) "You may clean your bedroom now, or you may clean it tomorrow." And of course they'll try to circumvent you - they'll promise to clean it the next day, but they won't. However, they NEED you. "Mum, can you clean my uniform?" "Sure, sweetie, as soon as you clean your room like you promised." "But MUUUUM I need it clean!" "I know." And walk away. They'll either clean their room, or wear a dirty uniform to school. They'll learn, but they'll learn from the experience, not from you punishing them. And when they DO make the choice you want them to make, praise praise praise! "Wow, it's very responsible of you to do your homework straight away, well done!" If they refuse to choose, tell them you'll count to 5 and then you will choose (then choose the one you know they will prefer - they'll be more compliant that way - so if you have offered "blue cup or red cup" and you know they prefer blue but are just being defiant, choose blue). They will learn to choose quickly! Work out their Love Languages (assessment available at ) and make sure their "love wells" are full. Everyone needs all 5, but say child A's most important one is physical touch. That means that it will empty faster. If you haven't hugged A all day, you're likely to have a grumpy, non-compliant child. So stop, hug A when he's being a brat, stroke his skin or hair ... whatever it takes. He'll probably wander off happier. B might need quality time. That's the hardest on us parents because it takes TIME - but you can do a lot of one-on-one attention while drying dishes together. When your child screws up, don't freak out and definitely don't fix it for them. Instead, say "Oh, no! What are you going to do about it?" If they are stuck, you can say "I have some ideas if you want to hear them." Then shut up. They'll ask eventually. And you can make your suggestions, then ask what they want to do. If they've left their assignment at a friend's place, they'll probably expect you to pick it up. Let them know that spending that time means that you won't be able to get a load of laundry done like you planned, so you'll be happy to drive over there IF they agree to do the laundry. Again, make it reasonable. If they spill their cornflakes, instead of screaming at them, tell them where the dustpan is and teach them to sweep it up. Even a 2 year old can do that, and they will feel so accomplished by doing so (I did this one 3 weeks ago ... half a pack on the floor ... heck of a job to control my temper, but the smile on my boy's face was worth it and no repeat performance!). If they really don't want to do something - is it worth it? Maybe you can swap. "I'm happy to clean your room for you, if you mop the floor/clean the toilet for me." Try not to say no. So if they say "can I play outside now" don't say "no, because you didn't do your homework". Instead, try saying "you're welcome to play outside as soon as your homework is done". You've given them permission - with a condition. Harder for them to argue with. Likewise it applies to teenagers - "can I go to a friend's place for the night?" "I'm happy for you to do that as soon as you have shown me that you have perfect table manners." (If that's the issue.) As for the zoo, I have a very specific suggestion that I've been using for dealing with my terrors in the car. I pull over. "Boys, you can choose to sit quietly and keep your hands to yourself, or you can choose to sit here in the car and be bored." Works BRILLIANTLY. After the third time I pulled over on one trip I only have to warn them that I'm about to pull over and they shut up. They *really* hate sitting there, going nowhere, when they don't want to be in the car in the first place. So with the zoo it's the same - "right, we're all sitting here in this incredibly boring part of the zoo (or going back to the car if that works) until you all decide that you are ready to act like a loving family". And then sit there. They'll buckle, I promise. You'll probably have to do it again and again but eventually they'll realise that it's just not worth it to misbehave. And *HUGS* you are definitely not failing as a parent!! I promise we all go through this, some more than others, and we are very good at pretending that we are coping better than we are!

    8. commonchaoschronicle

      Wow. Thank you so much. It's heaps of info so I'll read it a few time and also get hubby to read it too. Already I am loving the car idea and how you would us it at the zoo. Thanks for sharing. xox

    9. Fiona

      Hi Today is the first time I've been on here. I'm a mother of 7. Marriage of over 20 years broke down a few years ago so Im also a single parent. I sit here reading this blog thinking thank God I'm not the only one whose children push them to the brink. I can empathise with you as unfortunately we can give our all but they'll still want more or push our buttons even harder. I agree with we're told do this and do that (which of course we try) but also everyone has their own personalities too so what may work for one doesn't work for another. I quite often feel that I'm failing. We can only do our best and keep trying. Have really enjoyed reading your blogs. Great ideas and down to earth conversation. Hang in there. :)

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