Gord and I are pretty strict parents. We have high expectations for both our kids and we work extra hard at teaching those expectations. Although they are high expectations, they are not unrealistic ones.
With Jonathan, however, we knew that more than ever we needed to be on top of our game. We knew he struggled with attachment, had all kinds of challenging behaviours, trouble self regulating…and on and on. We also knew that the counter part to these challenges was consistency, strict boundaries and follow through (every.single.time).
Even though I know that these three counter parts, aka rules-to-live-by-when-parenting-Jonathan, are the best way to parent him, it often leaves me feeling like Mrs. NoFun. We do have our fun; our tickles, laughing at silly things, doing things we like, but most of my day consists of feeling like a drill sergeant.
He gets away with nothing. That we know of anyway:)
We take away privileges and give time outs like some people eat and breath; we don’t even think about it. Being rude, not listening, and yelling will land you in hot water with us each and every time.
In the car, at the store, at a friend’s house, it doesn’t matter. We follow through. If I think I cannot physically and mentally handle carrying him up the stairs kicking and screaming for the 14th time out that day (he sometimes runs to the furthest corner from the time out spot, go figure) it doesn’t matter.
I dig deep and I do it. In all the ways you can dig; physically, emotionally, mentally, I’ve dug.
Because I know that is what he needs.
I also know what being 15 years old and having no boundaries, respect, trust, compassion, empathy, looks like. And it ain’t pretty. So we ignore the frustration and the exhaustion and feelings of wanting to throw a temper tantrum ourselves, and we just keep doing it.
You guys, shut the front door, it’s working.
I may feel like a cranky old hag, but it’s shout it from the rooftops working!
There are small changes that I see in his day-to-day behaviour that simply would not have happened 6 months ago, or even 3 months ago. Heck even weeks ago!
And the thing is, the more it’s working the more energy I have to be more fun. The more fun we have the stronger our attachment is building. The stronger our attachment is the more he is listening. The more he is listening the more he is getting positive attention and thriving. Thriving.
Raising this little rocket is the most exhausting thing I’ve every done. I have found patience from who knows where when all I wanted to do was scream. I have smiled and talked calmly when all I wanted to do is throw something. I have breathed deeper and let more go than I ever thought I could.
And the pay off of having a happier boy is starting to come to light. Don’t get me wrong, we have a loooong way to go, but there has been so many little changes happening that it’s unbelievable and so motivating. I can see it under the anger, I can feel it in his hugs. I can hear it in his voice.