Friendly Friday #8

When I put a tweet out on Twitter asking for mommy or daddy bloggers interested in being featured in my Friendly Friday series, I was thrilled when Emily responded! The most amazing thing about the internet and social mediums is meeting and learning from others. I find that now truer than ever since becoming a parent. There are loads of amazing parents and different philosophies on raising children that always pique my interest. I may not agree with you on everything (or anything) but I’m the type of person who wants to know more! That brings me back to Emily’s post! My house is soooo busy just with one child that I can’t imagine three…..well I can imagine three I just can’t imagine all the planning, etc. Anyways, Emily’s post is great! I loved reading it and I hope you to do. Please check out her blog and say hello at http://ohboymom.com

Stop Reacting and Start Parenting

 Along with my house of boys comes a steady supply of daily wrestling matches and disagreements. Here’s a sampling of some of my reactions – voiced in an impressive shrill — to my boys’ behavior on a typical day:

“Get off your brother NOW!”

“Be quiet or I’m really gonna scream!”

“Stop treating the furniture like a jungle gym.”

“If you don’t stop punching your brother, I’m taking away video games for a month!”

And on it would go…

I’m no parenting expert and I’m certainly far from being super mom.  But, someone recently gave me the piece of advice to “stop reacting and start parenting” and every day I now strive to try to follow it.  I need to try really hard because every hour of every day I feel like reacting to something one of my boys said or did.  A house with three active boys is no picnic.  Don’t get me wrong, I love their energy, but along with energy comes lots and lots of fighting and noise.

In the past, whenever I intervened, I inevitably looked like I was taking sides, especially if it was my youngest dude getting pummeled by one of his brothers.  “He’s only 8 – of course I have to defend him!” I’d shriek.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I WAS taking sides.  By involving myself in their fight, I was injecting myself right into the middle of the scuffle and I usually assigned blame to the one who wasn’t hurt or crying.   Big mistake.  Maybe the crying son had instigated the fight.  Or maybe this was a continuation of a disagreement from the day before, making it hard to distinguish who should be blamed.

The bottom line is that they are brothers.  All siblings, and especially brothers, fight and argue.  The fighting is actually GOOD for them.  They are learning how to compromise, share, and settle disagreements.  I have to learn to let them fight it out, within reason of course.  Once I see blood or the possibility of a concussion, I put on the black and white striped uniform and break it up.  Otherwise, I don’t involve myself anymore.

The boys are still adjusting to my hands-off approach.

“Mom, aren’t you going to DO anything?!  He just grabbed the TV remote!” Middle Dude will scream.

“Yeah, well he just punched me in the stomach!” Little Dude will whine back.

My reply?

“Work it out guys, work it out.” I calmly say.

I know what you’re thinking.  That can’t possibly work.  Believe it or not, sometimes it does.  But, you’re right, there are other times when they do need a little guidance.  So, I initiate a discussion on how they can solve the disagreement.  With the TV remote fight, I might say something like, “Well, if you both want to use the remote, why don’t you figure out a way where you can each have a turn holding it and then switch off?”

This approach can almost work like a magic elixir:  When I re-direct them and make their dilemma into a project for them to solve, they almost become distracted from the original issue.  When they were constantly fighting over whose turn it was to play video games, I suggested they draw up a schedule of who plays when and for how long.  They spent so much time designing the schedule that they barely played any games that day.

I know my method isn’t perfect, but if you are a reactionary person like me (ie, yeller, screamer), I highly suggest you give it a try.  You’ll be parenting in no time.

Emily Cappo is a mother to three boys, ages 8, 12, and 15 and one girl dog.  When not parenting, she can be found writing, blogging, playing tennis, or drinking iced tea.  If you’d like to read about more of her adventures as a mom to boys, go to:

Comments

  1. jnine0712 says:

    Love the guest blogging today!! Even though I have girls, I can totally relate and was finding myself constantly being the mediator and after reading your articles you truly gave me some food for thought on how to handle some of these situations. Thank you for that :)

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