I scream a lot. I make terrible threats that the kids know I would never carry out. They know I would never serve one of them for dinner. They know I would never rip their arm off and beat them over the head with the bloody end of it. They know that if I am screaming at them, I am very unlikely to actually hit them. My parents believed very strongly in frequent corporal punishment. I try not to do that. I mean, I have spanked my kids. But not often and not much. But, slapping them is the first thought that crosses my mind. It is like an instinct. My mother slapped me, so it must be the right reaction. Instead of slapping them I try to let myself cool off. I guess I cool off by letting off some steam. That steam-letting seems to almost always involve yelling.
I do make use of restrictions and rewards. They aren’t very effective, but I use them. I put all of my kids on restriction for bad behavior. Taking away TV time, computer time, game console time. Taking away toys, moving bedtime to an earlier venue, timeout in their bedroom, stuff like that, is what we try to use for punishments. Our kids usually aren’t fazed by any of it though. They just shrug it off and it seems like what ever I take away they act like it never mattered to them in the first place.
For rewards, we return whatever was taken away or we offer small shopping incentives or a movie at the theater or something. They don’t care about that stuff either. If we never give them a reward because they never did the good thing to earn it, then they just act like it is no big deal. Like they didn’t really want the reward enough to bother earning it.
I guess my kids are spoiled. They aren’t as polite, especially to me, as they should be. I do manage to enforce their better behavior for other people much more than I can enforce it for myself. One of them is prone to temper tantrums, too. I am trying really hard to learn to ignore the screaming and flailing in the floor. Supposedly, if you react to the tantrum, it feeds the part that encourages the tantrum. So, I am working on that. I am also trying to give in less. I am actually doing pretty good with that. I am saying “no” and not changing my mind.
I think the yelling from me and the temper tantrums from the middle child really put people off. I think me screaming makes people think I have no parenting skills. They can’t really see that I am not hitting my kid like I want to. They can’t see that I am not being my mother. I am not taking my frustrations and anger out on my kids. I am not being my father. I am not drinking every single day to keep reality at bay. Actually, I seldom drink. *shrug* The loss of control scares me. I do not want to be not in control of myself. If I were not in control, I may act on the instincts my parents gave me. If I started hitting my kids, what if I couldn’t stop? What if my mother really does live inside me?
Many times, when I complained to my mother about how the kids were being bad, she flat out told me I wasn’t whipping them enough. She has repeatedly told me they need to be “beat”. A couple of times, I asked her to babysit, and when I came home she had been out and picked a switch and threatened my kids with it. A switch! In my house! She didn’t hit them with it. But she threatened them with it. She laid it on my mantel where they could see it. I had to tell her, in no uncertain terms, that she was not to hit my kids. Not with anything. Not for anything. If they need punishing, send them to their room until I get home. I will handle the punishment. *shudder* It completely freaked me out.
So, yeah. I yell. I scream. I cuss. I threaten to sell them to gypsies. I offer to drop them off at an orphanage. I sometimes say I am going to pinch their head off. Or duct tape their mouths shut. But I also tell them I don’t mean that stuff. And I never do anything remotely like that. They know I will not hurt them.
I still suck at parenting though.