Imagine a large, translucent bubble. Inside the bubble you can see your ideal parent/child relationship, as if it's a movie played in front of you. In my ideal parenting world, I never yell. I am one of those picture-perfect, supporting, loving moms that's at every school function and sporting event, and is always calm and at the ready with stellar advice.
Now imagine that bubble bursting into thin air. Yeah. My ideal world is an illusion. Shocker!
If I'm being honest, I am a recovering yeller. When my child was younger, I lost my temper WAY more often than I would have liked. My reality and my ideal world were galaxies apart.
Admittedly, I had a lot of stress back then. (Explaining all that was going on would just sound like excuses, so I'll skip them.) In a nutshell, I wasn't being the parent I wanted to be and I needed to figure out how to find some middle ground between the parent I was and my ideal, never-gonna-happen vision.
I vowed last March to reduce yelling to only when I felt I was at the end of my rope. You know...the moments when all your patience is gone; when all your strategies have been implemented—and they still aren't working; and when your anger is so overwhelming that you feel like you could explode? Yeah, that rope.
I significantly reduced my yelling right after setting that intention. Impressively, that's all it took. I just set the intention to do better, and I did. Since then, things have been far more pleasant than I would have dreamed. I did yell occasionally over the past year, when that rope was about to snap. But, I also found myself yelling at times when I felt my daughter just WASN'T listening. Yelling proved to be an effective way to get her attention because I had used it sparingly.
Over the past month or so though, I've noticed my yelling has increased significantly. (What is it about being 7 years and 11 months that changes a child? The dramatics are out of this world...and she's not even eight yet!). I felt myself slipping into that space of disappointment again, of not being the parent I wanted to be. Therefore, I renewed my commitment yesterday to reduce my yelling, if not eliminate it this time.
Just today, my daughter was being outrageous. I mean, seriously unreasonable. She was complaining about something or other. Her tone was condescending. Her voice continued to rise until she was yelling at me. She refused to listen and only wanted her point to be heard. Really, she just wanted her way.
My insides were revolting. I wanted to scream at her from the top of my lungs. I was conscious of this anger, and I refused to give in to the desire for the quick fix. Instead, I chose to ignore her. That was hard—I mean really hard. Not responding amidst snide comments made under her breath, followed by overt statements of how I hate her and don't care about her was beyond grueling. Oh, how I wanted to scream at the hurtful remarks and make her take it all back. But, I didn't. I continued to ignore her.
Within 10 minutes of her walking away from me, dinner was ready and I called her to the table. Shortly after starting to eat, she apologized. She didn't say it kindly, but I didn't press the point because I could tell she was embarrassed. The important part was that she thought about her actions and apologized. We had a heart-to-heart about what was difficult for her and why she felt she couldn't control her anger.
In all honestly, that discussion felt WAY better than yelling at her. While yelling certainly would have resolved things more quickly, I don't believe it would have been as effective. My daughter apologized because she felt guilty about her behavior, as she should. It was downright terrible! I'd much rather that though, versus an apology based out of fear or a feeling of compliance.
My renewed commitment was tested today, and I proved I was up to the test. (And it was no small test.) I just need to remain conscious about this renewed commitment, as there may be more tests on the horizon. Or, maybe my ideal world will become reality. ;)
Be open to what comes.